Les Miserables Review: Hit the High Notes?

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Les Miserables is even more boisterous than the stage version on which it is based. On many fronts it is jaw-dropping what director Tom Hooper (The King's Speech) has done to widen the scope of a story that is already epic. Yet, the transfer to the big screen suffers a few hiccups along the way.

Anne Hathaway Les Miserables
Fans of the musical should be thrilled, particularly those that have seen the work on stage multiple times -- as legions have. It is a story that warrants many viewings, but what we have here onscreen with Les Miserables feels a bit off. First off, Hooper's use of extreme close-ups for most of the emotional singing gets repetitive after an hour. By the better part of three hours, it was simply too much.

Led by Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman, the cast is sensational... save for one "just OK." Hathaway makes the most of her time onscreen (which is not much) and belts out a I Dreamed a Dream that meets and tops all previous versions you've heard. As Jennifer Hudson scored an Oscar for singing And I Am Telling You in Dreamgirls, so too will Hathaway for her take on the song that made Susan Boyle an international superstar.

Hathaway does much more than sing in that iconic musical moment. The actress turns in a performance that will steal your heart and haunts the entire film.

Introduced in the Les Miserables trailer, Jackman is Jean Valjean, who serves as our entry into the Les Miserables story. He is a prisoner, who we learn is about to earn his freedom, despite the clear objections of lawman Javert (Russell Crowe). Valjean spent 19 years in jail for stealing a loaf of bread to feed his family and that bitterness may lie inside him, but he takes the second chance at life and makes the most of it. That is, until his path once again crosses with Javert. 

Valjean is now a leader in his community, when Crowe's military man shows up to execute his duty to protect the town. He is familiar with Valjean's face, but cannot pinpoint it. Once he does, hell is unleashed.

Production design dominates and should be rained upon by Oscar love. They capture post-revolutionary France with a devil in the details attitude of getting it right. And it is that fight for freedom that many may truly learn about for the first time. After the initial French Revolution, the monarchy returned to the throne decades later and it took a second revolution to rid them of the royals altogether.

Hugh Jackman Les Miserables
Eddie Redmayne plays Marius, a man of privilege who is part of the resistance to overthrow the government. There is a love story centered around him and Amanda Seyfried's Cosette in Les Miserables that anchors the film and is a single ray of light in an otherwise dreary landscape.

As Javert... Crowe is devilish, yet his singing is a bit of a distraction. He is commanding on screen, no doubt, but his vocal tone misses the mark. As that turn may disappoint, a joy is found in Samantha Barks as the lovelorn Eponine. The stage veteran with the voice of an angel shines and that buzz surrounding her right now is more than warranted.

Our Les Miserables review finds the film is longer than it needs to be and in the end, feels a little bloated. A new song was added, most likely to qualify for a Best Song Academy Award, and it does nothing to advance the story. But, epics can be long, and considering the source material, what to cut must have been an enormous question to answer for filmmakers. Although Les Miserables is as faithful of a Broadway musical adaptations we've seen of late on screen, it isn't the heavyweight we expected nor what fans of the most popular musical of all-time deserve.

Review

Editor Rating: 3.5 / 5.0
  • 3.5 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (95 Votes)
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I've seen Les Mis just yesterday, and, I have to say, even though I wasn't expecting that much from a movie version, it was actually amazing. I loved every actor in their respective parts but Crowe. I like him very much as an actor, but he doesn't have the voice to play Javert. I was very disappointed when, in the suicide scene, he couldn't reach the last high note. That is my favourite Javert song, and he totally ruined it for me. I am now left with a sense of void, and I think I will go and listen to my favourite Javert from the 25th Anniversary to make up for it. So, yeah, he totally ruined the movie experience for me. A pleasant surprise was Jackman: I knew the man could sing, but I really didn't think he would live up to my expectations. The apotheosis of his singing was reached with "Bring him home", obviously, but I have to admit I liked him way more in "One Day More", my all-favourite song from Les Mis! Cosette - well, let's forget for a moment I hate her character, but Amanda Seyfred wasn't actually that bad. Sure, she struggles a little with the highest notes, but I kinda liked her. As for Eponine, I liked Barks' performance better in the 25th Anniversary. And she was waaay to skinny, and that distracted me a lot. Nothing to say about Marius and Enjolras - they were both awesome (even though no one can beat Michael Ball as Marius in my heart). Side note: Sacha Baron Cohen as "the Master of the House" Thenardier was the best choice ever! I didn't know about his casting (I try to avoid certain news before I watch the movie, so I can be surprised), but he was great! Helena Bonham Carter was okay - nothing special, but I wasn't pleased nor disappointed by her, so that's good. Read more celebrity gossip at: http://www.thehollywoodgossip....

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Russell Crowe was terrible. I have NO idea why he was cast to play Javert. He didn't do the character justice at all and was totally out acted and out sung by Hugh Jackman. As a fan of the musical I was SO disappointed with his performance that It bothered me the entire film. If this were a speaking role, he would've made a fantastic villain, but it wasn't. He's not a singer, and this was a musical. Surely there could've been someone, ANYONE better for the role? Jackman and Hathaway were flawless. It had the potential to be amazing. Unfortunately it fell short for me. Prepare to be slammed, Russell.

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Russell Crowe was terrible. I have NO idea why he was cast to play Javert. He didn't do the character justice at all and was totally out acted and out sung by Hugh Jackman. As a fan of the musical I was SO disappointed with his performance that It bothered me the entire film. If this were a speaking role, he would've made a fantastic villain, but it wasn't. He's not a singer, and this was a musical. Surely there could've been someone, ANYONE better for the role? Jackman and Hathaway were flawless. It had the potential to be amazing. Unfortunately it fell short for me. Prepare to be slammed, Russell.

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Acting? Russell Crowe was acting? Maybe that was during the three minutes it took me to use the restroom. Darn, I missed it! If he'd have been acting, maybe I could over look his singing. Oh, wait. Did I say singing? Oops.

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I don't get all this complaining of Russel Crowe's singing. First of all, THIS IS A FILM NOT A STAGE PRODUCTION! Such a production NEEDS EMOTING AS ONE IS SINGING!!!Sure there are performers who have " better "voices than RC , BUT JAVERT ON SCREEN NEEDS MORE THAN A MAJESTIC VOICE. He needs to convey his grimness and his insane absolute duty to capture jean Val jean. RC's singing AND ACTING were PERFECT for this role!!

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I love the stage version, but from what I’ve seen in all the reviews I don’t think I will like the movie. Some of my DISH coworkers are going to see it this weekend, but I’m going to wait for this one to come out on DVD. It will be really interesting to compare it to the stage version, so I put it in my Blockbuster @Home queue that I have through DISH. That way it will be mailed to me when it’s released on DVD, and I have the option to exchange it at the Blockbuster store near my house.

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I was really looking forward the the screen adaptation of one of my favorite musicals. My husband knows the music but has never seen the stage production. After the film, we turned to each other..he said he loved it...I did not. Although epic and beautiful, the lack of a strong Javert was a point I could not get past. He is one of the most important characters, yet Crowe's performance was nasal and flat. I actually found myself bored and annoyed when he was onscreen. I was disappointed. My husband, on the other hand, enjoyed the movie.

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An awe inspiring movie that hits the mark- and passage of time- with the message framed and created by everyone who touched this work of art intended to bring forth. Like the play itself, this movie will be in the list of all time inspiring movies that speaks to the timeless sufferings of humans throughout history along with the triumph of the human spirit. Read the production notes before and after the movie as it is a story in of itself of how this movie was developed, casted, and filmed like no other movie to date. Every cast member added his or her honed acting skills along with their real-life singing voices that embraces you with a firm grip and leads your emotions through a maze of feelings while watching this movie. After reading the production notes you will understand why the movie was 3 hrs long and why there were many close-ups. Here is a tid-bit from the production notes: Unlike normal movies where the production of the singing is in a sound stage, the singing is LIVE on-set, while the camera is rolling, all while the music is played through an ear piece while the actors are poring their soles and physical emotions into their bodies and singing voice. This is the first time ever that a movie was filmed in this manner! If you walk away untouched than you need to "thaw" the block of Ice around you out a little bite... Google "les miserables production notes" without the " " and look at the third link with a [PDF] marker. Enjoy the Movie and Production Notes~ Dave

Les Miserables Quotes

Marius: In my life, there is someone who touches my life. Waiting near...
Éponine: Waiting here...

To love another person is to see the face of God.

Jean Valjean

Les Miserables Review

Les Miserables is even more boisterous than the stage version on which it is based. On many fronts it is jaw-dropping what director Tom...

Read Review Editor Rating
  • 3.5 / 5.0
  • 1
  • 2
  • 3
  • 4
  • 5
User Rating

Rating: 4.5 / 5.0 (95 Votes)

Les Miserables Trailer

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