Starring: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Sacha Baron Cohen, Helena Bonham Carter, Eddie Redmayne, Aaron Tveit, Samantha Barks, Daniel Huttlestone, Isabelle Allen, and more.
Directed by: Tom Hooper Screenplay by: William Nicholson Based on the Novel by: Victor Hugo Lyrics by: Herbert Kretzmer Music by: Claude-Michel Schönberg Cinematography by: Danny Cohen
Premise: Javert and Jean Valjean spent nineteen years together as jailer and prisoner. Yet after Jean Valjean is given parole and a kind man turns his heart from despair, the two are fated to meet again and again as France and her citizens once more grow dissatisfied under the present king's rule. (Rated PG-13)
1) Acting - Total Thumbs Up: The acting in this film was fabulous. Great job by Hugh Jackman and Russel Crowe. Anne Hathaway will have you in tears. Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter were delicious as the entrepreneurial and ever so lucky Monsieur and Madame Thénardier. But I was even more amazed by Eddie Redmayne. The emotion pouring from him as he sang of the friends he would never see again was breathtaking.
The kids in the film were also wonderful. Little Cosette was adorable and made you totally believe in the castle in the clouds. Daniel Huttlestone tried to steal the show with his great energy and charm in his role as Gavroche.
2) Special Effects - Total Thumbs Up: Most of the special effects in the film have to do with CGI for scene backgrounds or overhead views. Some really imaginative creations they were, too - especially the ship yards at the very beginning of the film.
3) Plot/Story - Thumbs Up: A lot of those going to see the film will already be familiar with the story line from the famous musical. For those not acquainted with "Le Misérables" or in love with the music and lyrics, the film may seem somewhat long at 157 minutes. (Some 'significant others' might be disappointed, expecting more action than is actually present in the film.)
4) Locations/Cinematography - Thumbs Up: Some truly nice spanning shots, especially in the first ten minutes or so. The shipyards, the barren hills, the monastery, different sections of Paris, all were shown to great effect. I wished they'd done a lot more of it.
When a musical is made into a film, one would hope it is with the thought of making the size of the stage even wider. But while this film definitely does that at several points, there was also an amazingly and disturbing amount of long drawn out closeups. And they were so close they cut the top off the actors' heads. While this might be a technique that could be used to add emphasis to a scene, it doesn't work well when it's done all the time. With the great backdrops and sets, it was a pity we are denied seeing more of them due to the rash of long closeup scenes. It made the grandeur we glimpsed now and then in the medium seem a waste, it was used so little.
5) Costuming/Makeup - Total Thumbs Up: Some great makeup work in the movie. The film spans several decades, so the touches to Hugh Jackman and Russel Crow to show their progressing years was decently done. Their makeup for Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway for their last few hours of life, however, came out even better. They truly did not look to be feeling well. Nice job!
Even more surprising was the amount of trouble they went to to show the unwashed masses. The dirt on Éponine as she changed into the boy's clothes was a very nice touch.
Conclusion: Fans of Hugh Jackman, Russel Crowe, and Anne Hathaway will totally enjoy their performances. Fans of "Les Misérables" will be pleased with the music though they'll also note that a little of the grandeur that should have come from the musical being converted to a film didn't entirely make it through. Those new to the story might wish the director had snipped off a few minutes here and there.
Rating: 4 out of 5 (Hubby's Rating: Better For Matinee)