Ok I feel like I need to open this by saying I love the musical. Unfortunately I have never seen it in person, but the music is some of my favorite music from a musical out there. I Dreamed a Dream, Do You Hear the People Sing? and One Day More are 3 must-listens for me whenever I get in a musical mood. Which happens a lot. So please keep that in mind as I say that I really do not like this movie. Why? Well, my good sir, (or madam) I will tell you why! Several reasons: first of all, this movie is shot in a disgustingly horrible manner. Tom Hooper, who jus directed The King's Speech, makes his return to the screen with Les Mis . Unsurprisingly, he brings that same style of directing to this. It works in The King's Speech, however it does not work here. Not only does it not work here, but it crashes and burns spectacularly with the exception of one scene, which, if you've seen the movie or know anything about it at all you know exactly what scene it is I am referring to. I'll get to it later. But using uncomfortably close headshots throughout the movie just doesn't work in a musical as grand as Les Mis. It works brilliantly to create the intimacy of The King's Speech, but NOT HERE. And when it's not uncomfortable head shots, we get these these HUGE wide shots of Paris or wherever they are at that point of the movie. Why can't their be a medium ground? Why can't we have typical dialogue style shots? Guess we'll never know. My next complaint: Amanda Seyfried. She is hopelessly out-acted by Hugh Jackman and Eddie Redmayne, who I know very little about. Also she can't hit some of her notes. I know they are impossible notes for almost anyone to hit, but if you can't do it, please take it an octave down. It was painful to hear her sing those notes. This isn't my only complaint against her. She was in Mamma Mia as well (for better or worse) but she was pretty awful in that as well. Final complaint: Russell Crowe. Ok everyone who knows me knows that I don't like Crowe to begin with, but he was grossly miscast in this movie. It's comparable to seeing Alec Baldwin in Rock of Ages. Well, a lot of the actors in Rock of Ages shouldn't have been in Rock of Ages but that's besides the point. But he's a guy who's in the movie musical more because he's a recognizable actor as opposed to his musical talent. To appeal to the common folk. Seriously? Les Mis isn't going to appeal to the "common folk" regardless of whether Crowe is in it or not so might as well get someone who's actually qualified to be Javert to play him.
Ok those are my complaints. Unfortunately that paragraph is going to be longer than this one, which is about what I liked. First of all: Hugh Jackman. He was spectacular in this movie, fully engrossing himself as Jean Valjean. He kind of starts out absurdly strong then slowly gets weaker as the movie progresses, but it's like going from phenomenal to just great. So not much of a fall of here. Next: Anne Hathaway. Yep. I Dreamed a Dream is without a doubt the best scene of the movie, and also without a doubt the best single scene in a movie of 2012. I feel safe saying that. In that scene, everything Hooper does works. And it brought me to tears. But the credit goes to Hathaway here for making the single 6-minute long head shot work. That scene is all her. Did it deserve an Oscar? Well personally I say no but clearly I'm in the minority because she did win it because of this single scene. Of course the other major problem with this is that this scene is about 15 minutes into the 158 minute movie, so the rest of the movie cannot live up to this scene. The other thing I like about this movie is action sequence. There's only two real action scenes but they were shot and choreographed really well. Finally, I also liked Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen as the comedic relief, (no surprise here....Helena Bonham Carter is one of if not my single favorite actress right now) and Samantha Barks, who plays the character she played in the movie in the actual musical as well. I am glad that they did this. But can I just say that Marius is silly for picking Amanda Seyfried over her? No offense to Seyfried but man is Samantha Barks beautiful.
To wrap it up, this movie is defined by the I Dream a Dream scene. This one scene is worth the price of admission. The problem is that when it's done it's back to the same old crap from Hooper for another 2+ hours. And in my opinion it gets really hard to watch as time goes on. Not even the fantastic music could save this for me. One final note: apparently there was on-the-set singing in this, but in my opinion this didn't really add anything to the movie. With the exception of I Dreamed a Dream, obviously. If this scene isn't in the movie, it's probably about two points lower for me. You know what? Two different verdicts coming up.
The Critique: A great musical shot in an unbelievably uncomfortable and distracting way. Overlong, too grandiose, and poor acting mixed in with some great acting. I hate to use the word mess but that's kind of what it is.
The Recommendation: if you are going to see it, you already have. If not, I would not recommend it.
The Verdict: With I Dreamed a Dream: 5/10
Without 2.5/10 so that's an average of 3.75/10 somewhat bad