There was a time in Hollywood, when musicals ruled the box-office and won numerous Oscars. That was many decades ago.
And while every now and then we see a musical do well financially, as well as critically, it’s still considered a risk to put a big budget musical on the big screen. That’s why director Tom Hooper needs to be commended for his brave effort in bringing Les Misérables from the stage to the movie theater.
It’s a risk that nearly pays off, except when the film isn’t too busy drowning itself in it’s own grandiosity.
Before I continue on with Les Misérables, lets break out into song for no reason about some trailers.
TRAILERS ATTACHED TO Les Misérables:
Indentity Thief – Jason Bateman = very funny. Melissa McCarthy = very annoying and unfunny. : Sell My Stock!
The Heat – Oh great, more McCarthy. This time she teams up with Sandra Bullock. The trailer looks like a 3rd Miss Congeniality. : Sell My Stock!’
Oblivion – I trust Tom Cruise when it comes to picking good projects, but this trailer isn’t wowing me as much as I thought. I could be wrong. : I Will Be There Opening Night!
The Great Gatsby – One of my favorite books of all time. Fantastic cast. So why am I worried? Not sold on Baz as director, nor Mulligan as Daisy. But the trailer is spectacular. : I Will Be There Opening Night!
Zero Dark Thirty – If I see this trailer one more time, I might need to be water boarded. : I Will Be There Opening Night!
Side Effects – The trailer might as well have just put up the words “CONTAGION IN PILL FORM” : Sell My Stock!
Temptation – Tyler Perry production. Oh and Kim Kardashian is 3rd on the cast list. Enough said. : Sell My Stock!
NOW ON WITH THE MAIN EVENT…
Perhaps I’m biologically incapable of liking musicals. Although, despite musicals being one of my least favorite film genres, I do like Grease and Sweeney Todd.
Having seen Les Misérables on Broadway when I was a young boy, I knew what to expect with this film adaption. The classic tale written by Victor Hugo has always provided audiences with a gripping drama. That same powerful story still remains in Tom Hooper’s film, but gets slightly sidetracked by the music. Not the musical numbers themselves, as many of them are a real treat, but by the fact that the dialogue is about 98% sung rather than said.
In 19th-century France, during the French revolution, Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) spends decades being hunted by a ruthless policeman named Javert (Russell Crowe) after he breaks parole for stealing a loaf of bread. After a bishop helps Jean, he starts a new life under a new name, becoming a saintly town figure, as well as a successful business man. He agrees to care for one of his factory worker’s daughter. Anne Hathaway portrays Fantine, the poor factory worker who is forced into prostitution. Her daughter, Cosette (Isabelle Allen as a child, Amanda Seyfried as an adult) ends up loving Jean as if he were her real father.
Hathaway gets the best moment of the entire film with her rendition of “I Dreamed A Dream”. It’s hard to not be blown away by this moment, as well as her superb acting in the first act of the movie. Other catchy tunes include “Master Of The House” by Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter, “Lovely Ladies”, “Look Down” and “One Day More”.
Hathaway and Jackman act as if they’re on stage, instead of in front of a camera. It works beautifully to their benefit. Jackman has never delivered such a powerhouse performance like this before. The real surprise, or disappointment, is Crowe. One of the best actors of the past 15 years, gives his first poor performance. It’s not that Crowe can’t sing (he’s the lead singer for his band 30 Odd Foot Of Grunts), he just wasn’t meant to sing for this. His tunes as Javert sound like one part David Bowie and another part barking dog.
The third act drags on considerably, which is odd since this is where most of the action takes place. The young love triangle involving Cosette ends up being clumsy and by the time it starts pushing well past the 2nd hour, you begin to not care about true love or the revolution.
The performances of Jackman and Hathaway, the guts of director Hooper and the heartbreaking story (if you can handle it being sung to you at all times!) are reasons enough to check it out.
I give Les Misérables *** out of ****.