Les Misérables (2012)


I’ve made no secret that there were two major releases that came out on Christmas Day of 2012 that I was immensely excited for. One was Django Unchained, Quentin Tarantino’s slavery revenge action epic, and the other was the first big budget cinematic adaptation of Les Misérables, one of the most beloved stage musicals in history. To my dismay, only one of them met my admittedly lofty expectations. And while I’d love to talk about that one, you hardly need my input to tell you to see a Quentin Tarantino movie. But I will anyway: Go see Django Unchained.

Les Misérables, as most know, is based on the Broadway musical adaption of the Victor Hugo novel of the same name. The story takes place in 19th Century France and follows the lives of a collection of characters leading up to the June Rebellion of 1832. Chief among these characters is Jean Valjean, a thief who upon being released from prison is given a new lease on life by a kindly priest. He breaks parole and assumes several new identities over the course of the story, always pursued by the rigid, self-righteous Inspector Javert. Along the way, he takes pity on a dying homeless woman, Fantine, who entrusts her daughter Cosette to his care. He raises her and… well, things go from there; I’m getting dangerously close to summarizing the entire plot, which most of you probably know by this point anyway.

There have already been many movie adaptations of Les Misérables (or Les Miz for the sake of brevity), and this one in particular had a lot going for it. Unlike all previous films, it’s the first to adapt the musical rather than the book itself. So not only were they working with a classic highly revered piece of literature, but also one of the most beloved musicals in Broadway history. They had a stellar cast headed by stage musical veteran Hugh Jackman, whose first role in a film musical has been long overdue, and they had the revolutionary technique of recording the actors singing vocals live on set, rather than having them lip-sync to a soundtrack, something that hadn’t been attempted in nearly 40 years. The whole production practically makes itself. All they needed was for the director not to fail in every way imaginable. But director Tom Hooper somehow managed to do just that.

On a directing level, the film is an absolute disaster. The opening shots are nice and suitably epic, but almost instantly descend into disorienting shaky camerawork with a ridiculous overuse of close-up shots. It truly is network television-level cinematography, but even network television is usually easier to watch than this. Presumably, as is the usual argument for poor handheld camerawork, the intent was to make things more realistic and immediate, and fair enough. Recording live does give the vocals a kind of raw, emotional realism, so making the visuals a match for that is an idea with merit. But such a thing is extraordinarily difficult to pull off, and Hooper could not have failed to do so more abysmally.

The editing is also atrocious. This is something that’s always an issue when it comes to adapting a stage musical to the screen. Stage plays are designed to account for breathing room between scenes, as the curtain must close for actors to get in place, sets to be rearranged, etc., whereas a film has no such luxury and must maintain forward momentum scene to scene. Les Miz is especially problematic, as unlike many musicals, it’s not a case of spoken dialogue frequently interrupted by song. In point of fact, there’s virtually no spoken dialogue, with virtually every line sung. These things are very difficult to translate between mediums, and while I appreciate that significant obstacle, countless musical films before have proved it very surmountable, and I’ve yet to see a film fail at it to this degree. The pacing is all over the place, and scene transition is awkward at best. The idea of letting the actors set the tempo though the live recording may help give some excellent performances in the moment, but without the director guiding them with a cohesive vision in mind, the final product will inevitably be a disjointed mess.

The film is not without merit, however. As previously mentioned, the cast is excellent. Although most of the main actors do not come from a stage musical background, they all give excellent performances. Much fuss has been made about Russell Crowe, admittedly the weakest singer to be given a main role, who plays Inspector Javert, but with the deliberately unpolished sound of the vocals, his voice never becomes much of an issue. As you may have heard, the true standout is Anne Hathaway in the role of Fantine. She’s only present in the movie for the first act, but her performance of the famous song “I Dreamed a Dream” is worth the price of admission alone. Anne is nothing short of heartbreaking in the role. She’ll almost certainly receive an Academy Award nomination for this film, and it’s well-deserved. Of course, as I said, she’s gone within the first half hour, so after that you might as well leave and save yourself two and a half hours.

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  • But who do you think did a “better” job: Russell Crowe as Javert, or Gerard Butler as Phantom?

    •  Hard to say. I never really had a problem with Butler either, & in fact have a bit of a soft spot for him. I saw that movie when I was 15, and it was my first exposure to the musical. Butler definitely has the benefit of being in the far superior movie, though.

      • Sofie Liv

         Well Joshua.. don’t take this the wrong way, that’ll make it difficult for me to buy it when you say. “The singing here was oki.”

        Cause quite frankly, any trained singer or musician can tell that Gerard Butler is not a singer! same way we can tell that Jonnhy Depp isn’t a singer, I can hear the difference between trained and none trained singers, and see none trained singers on such big sat-up productions, it pains me deep inside.

        Sigh, had hoped this movie would at least be a feast for the eyes! I want this movie to be good, really I do, sigh.. well, guess there’s goods things about this first coming out in Denmark at March -_-;

        • Muthsarah

          Look on the bright side:  maybe they’ll dub it. 😀

          • Sofie Liv

             No, this is a life action adult movie, so they wont…. but I can watch it in german ones it comes out on DVD! they dub every-thing!

        •  I didn’t say he was good, I just said he didn’t bug me. Yeah, Butler, like Crowe, is obviously the least experienced person in the main cast, but neither one of them killed their respective films for me. Honestly, some of my favorite musical films feature actors with little to no singing experience. Man of La Mancha, Sweeney Todd, etc. I can recognize good and bad singing (to a degree, it’s not my area of expertise), I just value their acting ability above their vocal talents. As long as they can sing within a reasonable margin of competence, I’m usually ok with them.

          Also, don’t count on a feast for the eyes. Like I said, the camerawork is headache-inducing.

          • Sofie Liv

             Gerard Butler didn’t ruin the film for me at first back when I first saw it as a fourteen year old.
            Then I started to gain exstended musical lessons in singing and piano and I learned better, trained my sense of hearing, and now he does…

            Sweeney Todd was definetely a movie ruined for me, which I got no joy out of, because of the definit none-singing cast.

            Yes, Depp is a good actor, yes I suppose he delivered the emotion he was supposed to, but! movies like this, are actually about, the music! It’s supposed to be the top of the crop, making the music sound grander and bigger than ever, and Depp and Bohman carter, man I hated them in that movie, I was just constantly pulling in my hair (For real.)

            And this is Les Mis! The greatest score ever of massive songs, it’s all about the singing here!
            And a master singer of cause also have the ability to show emotions with the songs, that is what great singers does.

            This was a ones in a life time chance, of a musical movie being made which you just know, it’s going to prevail and people are going to watch it in twenty years. Wouldn’t it be better to focus on making it stand as grand and time-less as possible?

            For that matter, who the hell goes watching Les Mis because the poster says “Russel Crow.” or “Anna Hathwaway.” .. We go see Les Mis, because this is the grand musical les mis, dammit.

          • MichaelANovelli

            Um, Sofie, I hate to tell you this, but Les Mis isn’t that big of a deal in America, as far as novels go.  It was a popular musical and all, but not as big on the cultural radar as, say, Rent or Cats.  Besides, as someone who’s seen the film, I think Crowe did much better than Anne Hathaway did.  And, once again, it seems, you and I square off on the old argument about whether or not it’s better to teach actors to sing than it is to teach singers to act…

            And, the acting will always be more important than the singing, because movies are an actor’s medium.  So there!  😉

          • Sofie Liv

            I know the novel is a big deal! but it all-ready had several straight interpretations in the form of movies and television mini-series, and I am sure it will have even more with time! it’s one of those things people just love to make more important looking interpretations of. This one decided to do the musical! the biggest musical ever, so do the musicals.

            And Musical movies also used to be a singer and dancers medium! because they are musical movies.
            Look at the Bob Fosse Legacy, look at the beloved Fred Astaire and Gene Kelley classics, it’s all about what is put up in dancing and singing there.

            I can’t mention more recent musical movies, because no more is it about the dancing and singing talent that fits the roles, I can only come up with one recent musical movie. “Reefer madness.” from 2005 where the cast is just perfect consistent of singers and dancers whom fits the characters and the tasks bestoved upon them.

            And great singers will also be good actors, because they can interpret and convey the songs they are singing.
            They are tons of people out there whom are both good actors and good singers, they are just not famouse, or well they are in their own circles, just not movie famouse.
            Which is the problem, not because they can’t act, because they aren’t famouse enough.. and who cares when it’s a movie like this? That the cast would consist mainly of people we odn’t know?
            Doctor who is a really smart show in that way that it knows people do not need a famous name to sit down and watch, we just want our doctor who, so they have just gone a ahead and casted complete unknowns as the Doctor and the companions, and it worked better that way, cause the actor fit the characters perfectly, and we as an audience is not watching some actor we all-ready know pretending to be the doctor, we are watching the bloody doctor.
            Like this movie, people would still watch it if it didn’t have one single recognisable name, so why not go ahead and use that to your advantage?

            This is the the biggest production ever, of the biggest musical ever, so the music should be presented in the grantest bestest way ever and be all top of the crop wiped cream and orgasm for the ears. apparently it’s not, and that is what it should have been, so no, no pass.

            People only get casted in big things because they are famouse nowadays.

            Why not Terrence Mann as Jervert? he is a legend on Broadway AND has been in a lot of movies, recent movies.

            Matt Lucas as Thenardier, he did that very well on stage AND his break through was in television, and he has been in a lot of movies.

            Why not Katherine Jenkins as Fantine? she has proved herself a very capable TV-actor these last few years, as well as being a singing legend.

            Why not Imelda Staunton as miss Thenadir? As very accomplished character movie actor and a west-end legend.

            These people are very talented, have voices that fits the money and can act! some of them can even act like hell and earned genuine awards for their acting, staunton has a lot of dramatic awards on her shelf. They just aren’t as famouse as the people whom did get casted -_-;

          • MichaelANovelli

            You do know that Russell Crowe used to be a professional singer, right?  Plus, I can never agree with you about Bob Fosse, as his movie all kind of suck…

            Also, this obsession you have with bringing Doctor Who into all of our debates is disturbing.  Have you considered the possibility that you might be some sort of scarf fetishist?

          • Sofie Liv

            And I think all three Bob Fosse movies are brilliant. “All That Jazz.” is a master piece in the musical genre if you ask me, and is a source to endless fascination to me, I have watched that movie a hundred times and I still can’t get enough, I love it.

            The camera ankles, the mastery dancing which is just perfect, the dirty theme which it doesn’t hold back on, but just exploids fully, it’s a master piece.

            It’s just because Doctor who does a lot of things right, other stuff don’t, and I am a whovian, so yeah.
            Well, Sherlock, they casted an complete unknown as Sherlock and he was perfectly casted, every-one agress, so there.

            And I don’t know how any-body sounds in this movie, I am just talking about the genneral thing that happens with big budget musical movies.

            I havn’t seen this movie! it does not come out in Denmark before March!

            Tell me though, when you say Russel Crow used to be a singer? do you mean classical singer or some-thing else?
            There’s a huge difference between being a classic singer and some-thing else.

          • MichaelANovelli

            He was the lead singer in a band called 30 Odd Foot Of Grunt, back in Australia.  They toured for decades.  And, cue Sofie saying that rock and roll-style singing doesn’t belong in a Broadway setting…  LOL

          • The_Stig

            I disagree. I happen to think Phantom would be one awesome rock opera.

          • Sofie Liv

            I am NOT saying it doesn’t belong in Broadway.

            Shows like “Jesus Christ Superstar.” and yeah, Phantom of the opera, which has hidden rock value to it, oki.

            Not Les Miserable! Les miserable is a fully classical piece. Know what you are casting for!

            Cabaret is a jazz musical, so is Chicago, so it doesn’t require classical singers, only jazz singers.

            Anni is based on ballad music, so you need to ballad singers, not necesarily classic singers.

            I love Liza minelli, I loved her in Cabaret and in New-york New-york. I would not want to see her being casted as any-thing in Les mis! She doesn’t belong there at all.

            Les Miserable is classic music, so it need classic singers!

            You cannot categorise musicals as just one genre! Like animation, it’s so unfair to call it one genre! there’s lots of under genre!

            Jazz musicals, rock musicals, balad musicals, comedy musicals. Rock musicals need rock singers and classical musicals needs classical singers, it’s very simple, and Anni can get away with singers whom are not neccesarily masters as long as they can act and dance. Know what piece you are working with.

            You don’t want Hockey players to play your base-ball game do you? even if they are great sportsmen and worlds best hockey players.

            And Gerard Butler isn’t even that good of a rock singer, you can get better with more ground and power in their voices, that would have been an awesome Phantom. There’s no umf or volume in his voice, it’s very insecure and fraquile when-ever he tries to raise it a little bit, which is why it doesn’t work for me.

          • midnightcyn

            Fred Astaire is a bad example; a divine dancer, a passable actor in light fare, but a horribly thin singing voice. He came across better than he was because directors knew how to overcome is weaknesses on film.

            They paid a fortune to buy the rights to Lez Mis, produce it, and market it. They believed they needed recognizable names to draw the audience. Russell Crowe was a poor choice; his vocals were just irritating; I would have liked to have seen Victor Garber in the role.

          • Muthsarah


            Hathaway or Crowe….that’s…technically a matter of taste.  Non est disputandum and all that.

            But as for acting vs. singing.  In a movie musical, you can’t separate those.  How you sing IS how you act, especially if you do nothing but sing.  Sure, there’s more to acting than speaking lines, but in a musical, nothing an actor can do is more important than the singing.  Not their appearance, not body language, not any other form of emoting.  And that goes for musical theatre as well (and why should “acting” be any more important on the screen as on the stage?)  I don’t think Crowe did anything well in this movie, and I don’t know where to start thinking about where Hathaway could have so disappointed you.

            You trollin’.

          • MichaelANovelli

            Anne Hathaway’s whole subplot just felt tacked on.  I know that the *character* was important to the story, but they never got around to setting up why.  It seems to me her whole story could have taken place off-screen and it wouldn’t have made much of a difference.

            And, while she did get a Big Song, I didn’t care for it…

  • Muthsarah

    One thing that I really want to learn to understand is criticism involving editing and pacing, beyond the most obvious (jarring cuts as a stylistic norm, scenes that go on and on with no payoff, comedic reaction shots).  When you say that the pacing is all over the place, what does that mean?  Some scenes are faster-paced than others?  The story slows down sometimes to focus on certain bits more than others? There’s got to be more than that, since not all scenes should “feel” the same unless the story is monotonous.  At the same time, I had no problem whatsoever with the scene transitions here.  Major leaps in time and location were covered with brief text blurbs, and the rest flowed pretty organically (though I do already know the story).  Were your complaints limited to the littler transitions?  Which ones?  Finally, the only scene whose camerawork felt even remotely distracting to me was the battle at the barricades.  I had thought the camerawork was pretty good (at least not a detriment) until then, but the sudden shift to Cloverfieldvision was irritating.

    I got the sense that the director/producers were trying to please everyone, without trying to really satisfy anyone: throw in as much of the material from the musical as you can, but stage it (and cast it…) with general audiences in mind.  And yeah, even I can see how that can end up clunky and unwieldy.  Now, I find I’m always on the side of the purists (even if it’s a brand I don’t like), so I would much, much rather the filmmakers try to please the fans of the source material first and bring anyone else along second by just trying not to alienate them too much, only cutting stuff out to smooth things out and never add or otherwise change the source material to “broaden the appeal”.  Every complaint I could summon about this movie was about something I recognized or at least assumed was a concession to mainstream audiences, one that they understood would not go over well with those who already knew and loved the musical.

    I felt the casting here was half-dreadful, the worst concession made to general audiences, one that offered nothing and made no sense.  Shakycam is always annoying, but felt like it was only in a couple of scenes, and not even the more interesting ones.  The movie did feel long, but I’m aware that the source material was itself far longer and I suspect a number of songs were cut anyway just to get it down to 2 and 40.  I was getting a little restless by the end, but I don’t hold that against the movie, since I’d rather the fans of the musical get what they want, and I suspect they’d want to see as much as possible.  It’s a shame modern movies don’t have room for intermissions, or I would have been just fine with it being even longer.  I am aware of movies that have bad pacing (every PotC movie), but again, it has to be pretty glaring.  If this movie has some of the worst editing and pacing you’ve ever seen (which you heavily imply), could you maybe…expand on that?

    • Sofie Liv

       There needs to be a certain flow in a story.
      A flow so that almost seeminglessly scenes waves together, it means that scenes that needs to dwell, dwells and the scenes that needs to be fast-paced are fast paced.

      When you down-right notice. “oh there’s an edit! and there’s another one, okay we are jumping scenes now.” then it’s because the flow is off, and the flow.. is just another word for pacing.

      If you don’t even notice that they are changing scenes, because each scene had just the right amount of time to exist, then the pace is perfect.
      And I thought the first pirates of the carribbean movie had great
      pacing, it was fast when it needed to be fast, but also slowed down for
      sentiment moments, it was a very solid well pace swush-buckler flick..
      can’t say that for the rest thought -_-;

      And I have to disagree compleately with that sentiment about they should try and please the fans.. Especially pourist fans can be bad for franchises if you listen to much to them. The movie maker should gennerally just try and make the best movie possible… for the sake of making the best movie possible!
      They are supposed to have some kind of a vision don’t they? so they should follow that, there are room for changes, stage-shows adapted to movies are best when you make the changes neccesary for the new vision.
      Also… it’s not always the fans even know what they wants, they think they know.. but do they really?

      • Muthsarah

        It’s almost impossible to tell a seamless, transitionless story that isn’t a one-act play.  Whenever you move from one location to another, have any visual effects, or show even a simple transition of time, you’re going to have a noticeable edit.  This story is set over many years, in a prison, a church, a small town, Paris, etc., there are battles, scenes needing stunt work, scenes that obviously couldn’t have been filmed on location, and a lot of plot points had to be condensed, not just from page to stage, but from stage to screen, so the audience is going to notice some rather stark transitions. The alternative is to rip the story apart and pare it down to its barest of elements, like the 1998 movie.  I didn’t have any problems with the transitions in this movie, with the exception of the really glaring beginning of the barricade scene, but that was because it fundamentally changed the way the film was being shot.  There were also some really stupid and unnecessary Dutch angles (Battlefield Earth glaring), that I had to stifle a laugh at, so I can understand some of the gripes about the way the film was shot.  But 90% of the time, I didn’t see a problem with any of the visuals.  I recognized some cinematic conceits (the opening shot, the close-ups) that obviously weren’t stage-y, but I don’t understand why anyone would have a problem with them.  They’re standard for movies, and if one person is singing a heart-wrenching solo…why not have some close-ups of her face?  Even old musicals did that at times.

        As far as the purist thing, yeah, that’s something I learned about myself long ago, and I understand that puts me in a rather difficult position regarding any adapted work.  And I do agree that filmmakers should try to make the best movie they can, but BEST FOR WHOM?*  I think the fans of the work the film is based/built on should come first, as there wouldn’t be a movie without them.  Make the movie for them first, and then try to bring as many others on for the ride, but don’t even bother making something if your mindset is “oh, and let’s also throw in some stuff for the fans”, as if they should be placated with a few scraps, while the film is made first and foremost for general audiences, people who come in not knowing anything of the work and who will probably forget they even saw the movie within a week.

        As for Pirates….ugh….no.  They had TWO pairs of bickering comic relief idiots (one is plenty), they went to the Island of the Dead TWICE, every scene that existed just for comedy should have been in the deleted scenes (Depp, one pair of idiots, and the monkey provided plenty already), and the whole thing – an original work, that owed very little to its thinner-than-reeds inspiration – was over 2 1/2 hours long.  No.  Badly paced, movie.  Badly paced.  I don’t claim to know a thing about the process of filmmaking, but I could tell the first time I saw it that its script needed a re-write, and the whole thing should and easily could have been a whole 30 minutes shorter.  General audiences would have liked it more, theatres could have fit more showings in and thus made more money, it would have cost less to make, and there were no purists to upset.  It was a good movie, but it was shoddily produced, and it succeeded due to the relative novelty of the premise and a once-in-a-generation brilliant comedic performance.

        * – Obviously, the “correct” answer here is the investors, which means get as many butts in the seats as possible, which means general/casual audiences are far, far more important than any established fan base.

        • Sofie Liv

           It should still feel natural to you, as if the movie and you as a person is in a constant flow, and it allows you to drift into the exsperience of the movie.

          If you suddenly blink and say. “Hey? what? where? what did that mean, was it important? where are we now?” then it failed at the pacing.

          I still think some of the best entertainment in the world is when you can just sense the creator himself sat and exclaimed. “YES! and then this happen, and we are going to have this big shoot, and then this twist, this is going to be so awesome!”
          “Doctor Who.” the current script main writer, whom has done a marvoulus job the past four years and has brought many other great things to the screen as well, when he writes, it gets so clear that he is writing for one person and one person only… himself! he is like a self-indulgent yet skilled little child, making all that stuff happen he wants to happen, and the show themselves become fun and self indulgent, it’s a joy to join that ride.

          Pirates was supposed to just be a fun little flick, it’s disney, the place of childish fun and adventure! and I still really love it! I think it’s funny, well put together, have a true sense of adventure and swushbuckling, it’s the greatest call-back to the 40’s great swushbucklers I can come up with, and the movie the closes to replicate that feel yet still update it!
          … again, can’t say the same for the rest. The second movie all though being flawed and in some places badly paced, just manages to get a pass from me regardless, mostly because of the last act and fighting sequence on the island, which I just purely love watching over and over.

          Their new version of the Lone Ranger though… looks like shit and Jonnhy depp giving the worst performance of his entire life! it’s just horrendous! which is a shame, cause the lone ranger as a figure and a legacy deserves better treatment.

          • Muthsarah

            “It should still feel natural to you, as if the movie and you as a
            person is in a constant flow, and it allows you to drift into the
            exsperience of the movie.

            If you suddenly blink and say. “Hey? what? where? what did that mean,
            was it important? where are we now?” then it failed at the pacing.”

            I felt Les Miz flowed pretty well.  Nothing story-wise was jarring, the only things about it that felt rushed or forced had to do with the characterizations from the musical itself already being that thin, and the story (again, from the musical) being highly condensed from a massive novel.  Like how Cosette and Marius fall in love instantly (or how Valjean accepts Marius as a son-in-law in the course of two lines), after just looking at each other from 100 feet away.  Yeah.  Fairy tale stuff.  But whatever, there’s a lot of other stuff to cover, so I wouldn’t want them to slow the movie down to explain it to the audience.

            Which is another major complaint about the movie (not made by anyone here) that I can’t agree with: that the plot is hard to follow, too much is happening, the characters aren’t fleshed out or believable, etc.  Well…this is a musical.  It’s here to sing to the audience, to tell a story through song.  A story that the viewer should already know.  If the viewer doesn’t…well…that’s not the movie’s fault, because it has to operate as if you do, or it couldn’t possibly work.  It doesn’t have time for exposition, it’s rushed enough as it is.

            “I still think some of the best entertainment in the world is when you
            can just sense the creator himself sat and exclaimed. “YES! and then
            this happen, and we are going to have this big shoot, and then this
            twist, this is going to be so awesome!”
            “Doctor Who.” the current
            script main writer, whom has done a marvoulus job the past four years
            and has brought many other great things to the screen as well, when he
            writes, it gets so clear that he is writing for one person and one
            person only… himself! he is like a self-indulgent yet skilled little
            child, making all that stuff happen he wants to happen, and the show
            themselves become fun and self indulgent, it’s a joy to join that ride”

            Absolutely.  And most of my favorite stories and movies are ones that sprung from a single person’s vision, not just something adapted from one person’s vision and re-shaped to be one-size-fits-all, by adding comic relief to serious stories, to add romantic subplots to stories that had none, to make the story more approachable by making it more familiar and less unique.  Groupthink doesn’t make good movies, at least not anymore.  You need visionaries like Miyazaki.  It doesn’t always work, certainly, but production-by-committee produces just as many disasters, and far less memorable successes.

            “Pirates was supposed to just be a fun little flick, it’s disney, the
            place of childish fun and adventure! and I still really love it! I think
            it’s funny, well put together, have a true sense of adventure and
            swushbuckling, it’s the greatest call-back to the 40’s great
            swushbucklers I can come up with, and the movie the closes to replicate
            that feel yet still update it!”

            Except that it isn’t little, it’s two and a half hours, bloated and redundant.  It’s funny at times, it looks fantastic, has a nice score, a good cast, Depp is amazing, some fun action scenes, sure.  But it also has scenes that stop the movie completely, and it goes on too long for what should be a fast-paced shallow but fun action movie.  Parlay, the scene with Sparrow and the two soldier idiots, the first trip to the Isle of the Dead, they add little.  A re-write could have made for a much tighter movie while removing only the weakest parts, mostly involving characters not important to the story.  A two-hour Pirates of the Caribbean would have been amazing.

            Considering that pirate movies were deader than westerns back then, shooting around water is always very difficult, and no one could see Jack Sparrow coming (Depp wasn’t THAT bankable back then), I’m surprised Disney didn’t try to reign in the film’s costs and keep the film a manageable length while it was still in its script phase.  I hate to say it, but there’s more Transformers than Star Wars to that movie.  So much filler.  We’re lucky it worked out.  Except for the sequels yes, which were no less bloated, just far less funny and original.

  • Alexa

    As a none Les Miz fan, not that I dislike it I have just never seen the musical performed and I know I am missing out, I can understand the disappointment. You have high hopes and the final product is just not up to what you hoping to expect, its not a fun feeling at all.

  • Joseph Tedesco

    I guess this puts me in the minority of people that thought this films was one of the better film musicals in a while :-/

    Anyways, here’s my own mini review:

    As I type this, I came back from seeing the movie. I saw it with my whole family and found each one of us crying at one point of the film. I understand that sentimentality doesn’t make a movie good by default, though I did go into this film with no expectations. At first, I was turned off when virtually every line was sung since I’ve never seen the original play but was familiar with the book; however it grew on me when the film would introduce a new character that was a lot of fun to watch. 

    At one point when the film nears the second act, I thought to myself “Damn, with a movie so depressing; what can they do to make this light-hearted?” Then lo and behold, Sacha Baron Cohen shows up on screen and I was laughing up a storm! So I can respect a film that can go from managing to have laughs, tears, and some satisfying action. I know that the close up shot on the face is usually used to make the audience feel intentionally uncomfortable; and there were times where it felt appropriate. I might even go as far as to say that this film would alienate some people in the audience, which I guess was the major criticism for this film.

    I also found Russell Crowe to be annoying as Javert, though not terrible. It’s a great character nonetheless. Maybe it’s a bias I have because I felt that Geoffrey Rush really did a good job in the earlier non-musical adaptation. Also Amanda Seyfried did a fantastic job… BOY! that kid’s got pipes!

    Overall I give the film a high B average since I do see myself seeing this film again. It’s got it’s flaws, but it was worth siting through. Then again, I’d much rather sit through a 3-hour musical over a 3-hour hobbit film any day… you can take away my geek card now.

  • I…I actually loved the movie. Yeah, it has its weaknesses, but I don’t think it ever actually -failed- in any way, really. Of course, I’m not trained with any sort of camera-work, but from a perspective of a layman, it was fantastic. Having such a tight focus on the actor’s faces allowed the audience to see every single emotion, which made everything feel very raw and realistic, in my opinion.

    Also, I loved all of the actors’ voices. I personally loved Javert’s voice, even. It’s not as strong as any Javert in a stage production, but it still conveyed the character well, I thought. Also, for its weaknesses, there’s also the strengths of the movie production versus the stage production–being able to emphasize some things that are very difficult to show on stage, which I definitely appreciated (for instance, see the “Lovely Ladies” scene; I’ve seen Les Mis on stage several times, but the horror of the situation for Fantine never really came across as well as the movie.)

    I could write a very long post about this, but unfortunately, I don’t have the time. 🙁 I sum it up this way: television shows, movies, musicals, pretty much any form of entertainment rarely, if ever, makes me tear up. This movie made me bawl…five times. >_<