Thursday, December 27, 2012

Les Miserables (2012 First Impressions) (Movie Review)

    Of all the classic Broadway Musicale’s, Les Miserables is one of my absolute favorites. I’ve seen the play and listened to the music countless times. It’s such an epic story and the music is just larger than life at times. Based on the novel by Victor Hugo, the story is massive and the musicale had to chop a lot of it down, but it worked well on stage and when I heard that they were going to make a motion picture of this phenomenon, I got really excited. It wasn’t the first time, there was another theatrical film rendition in 1998 starring Liam Neeson, however that version had no music and that made it feel incomplete. This time, we have an actual musical adapted from the play and the result is a mixed blessing.

     I went into this film with the wrong mind set, I was expecting the music to sound just as sensational as they sound on the stage or on the classic album, however the singing is only decent in this film by comparison to how stellar other renditions sound. However, the strength of this film comes from the stellar cast and emotional depth of the characters. In this regard the films shines, the performances are very passionate and the drama is deep. Take this part as an example, if you heard Anne Hathaway’s “I Dreamed a Dream” on its own, then it’s just okay and you’d probably want to hear a really good singer like Susan Boyle instead. However, when you see Anne Hathaway in the movie singing, she just puts so much passion into it, and when you see all that emotion in her face, it just tugs at your heart strings. It gives you an even more powerful feeing then just hearing the song on its own.

      In regard to films in general, everything was done very well in this film, Hugo Jackman gives a stellar lead performance, Anne Hathaway is sensational, the rest of the cast dose their job very well and the emotional quality is strong. There are even a phew cast members from the actual play who are making their film debuts in this movie, most notably Samantha Barks who’s reprising her role as the character Eponine, her singing voice is still just as good as when she sang for the 25th anniversary concert of “Les Miserables”. I also like how the actors are actually singing directly in front of the camera as opposed to recording their voices and dubbing them over later, which is the method that’s usually done in musicals. My only real criticism is that a lot of this film feels a little too tight, literally, 75% of this film is spent zoomed in on someone’s face and that can get really annoying. Usually musicals will have breathtaking cinematography and a lot of wide shots, but this film only has a hand full. The opening shot is really good and there are a phew cool wide shots near the end of the film but like I said, most of this movie is filmed in a very confining way.

   Overall, if you’re going to watch “Les Miserables” just out of love for the music alone, then you’re probably going to have a better time watching this on the stage as opposed to the big screen. But if you want a good film with decent music then you’ll probably like this film just fine. I’m glad I saw it, even though the music didn’t sound as good in other play renditions, this was still a very good adaptation of one of my favorite musicals and the ending will certainly leave you with chills. I give “Les Miserables” 4 stars.         

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