As a Les Miserables fan, okay - tragic I was nervous about how the film would stack up as a musical feast versus visual feast; I was right to be worried. Jackman, as our hero Jean Valjean and Crowe as our villan - Javert were both underwhelming musical performers although fine actors. Jackman perfectly portrayed Valjean's virtue and earnestness and Crowe was an imposing Javert although fell short of showing Javert's internal struggles, particularly before his final song. The upside of the two leads being weaker singers allows room for the real stars and surprises of Les Miserables - firstly and primarily Anne Hathaway, her wretched performance, shot in a single head shot, of I Dreamed a Dream is truly spellbinding. Eddie Redmayne gave a more passionate, less soppy account of Marius than I have seen to date (on stage) and this single performance has guaranteed him a brilliant, lifelong career. Eponine, Cosette and Enjrolas are all superbly cast.
One of the selling points of Tom Hooper's version of Les Mis has been the risky technique of recording all actors on set singing. For weaker singers like Jackman and Crowe this fails abysmally and leaves you pining for a mastered dubbing. For Hathaway and Redmayne, the rawness of their performances only adds to brilliance of their musical solos - it was difficult to tell if I had sobbed an equal or greater amount of tears in I Dreamed a Dream compared to Empty Chairs and Empty Tables.
Running roughly two and a half hours Les Mis moves fast, a disappointment in my opinion. Audiences are used to 3+ hour films being released on Boxing Day, and the shortened versions of songs, while in Jackman and Crowe's cases were a blessing, dismally undersold the film's terrific chorus numbers (At the End of the Day, Turning and Look Down) and diminished the film's chance to expose more shades of the lead characters - you get the feeling Hooper left a whole lot of this film on the cutting room floor. Having said this, there were beautiful CGI transitions giving wonderful visual feats of 1890's Paris and the technique of keeping the camera put on the leads as they performed their big numbers all but guarantees and Oscar for Hathaway and possibly Redmayne. Les Mis doesn't quite achieve what tragics hope it will but does come very close.
A great movie with an excellent cast and thankfully Gywenth's character dies early on so you don't have to put up with too much of her and she doesn't have time to annoy you. What I loved most about this film was it's use of musical interludes where there's no script, all shots, sometimes just a series of simple single frames, it's captivating and commands you watch. The script is a little typical in some places but altogether an excellent exploration of how modern society would react if a killer virus spread uncontained. Definitely see this - also look out for hilarious quote on blogging being graffiti with punctuation!