Les Miserables came out to movie theatres this Christmas and I’ve seen ads for it in a lot of places. Will this usher in a new age for movie musicals? That is too early to tell but it does look promising with many more stage musicals slated to become movie, among them Wicked and Into the Woods. Now it seems many big name movie stars are all looking to find some musical to be in. Tom Cruise has Rock of Ages, Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway in Les Miserables, and there are rumors that Meryl Streep is look to play the Witch in the movie adaptation of Into the Woods. So it looks like we will be seeing these movie musicals for a while now, be it on the big screen or on our television screens.
So how does The Miserable Ones stack up? I’ve seen the stage version two or three times and the 10th and 25th anniversary concerts a bunch as well, and I have even watch some dreadful youtube videos of high school productions. There were some flaws but that’s the course for a movie adaptation, there is always something to complain about. I was taken by surprise that everyone could at least carry a tune. Russell Crowe a singer? was one of the first reactions I had when he was cast as Javert. I had already known that about half the cast Jackman, Hathaway, Seyfried, Baron Cohen, Bonham Carter, Barks, Tveit and not to forget Wilkinson and Ruffelle all have done musicals in their past and I’ve heard sing. So I was at least going to see it, and this was tough since I am not a huge fan of Russell Crowe’s acting. So after seeing it I think that the film is decent. I really like how Hooper had the actors singing live on set so as to get the emotions into each song. Anne Hathaway is heart breaking in her short performance as Fantine, and it looks to have a shot at an Oscar. Sam Barks is a delight as Eponine and I hope that she continues and finds a way to balance acting on stage and on screen. Hugh Jackman does a fine job as Valjean but to me sometime he falls flat. Baron Cohen and Bonham Carter didn’t seem to want to take their role as the Thénardiers anywhere and with an emotional-less performance from Crowe these two things seemed to be the sour note. These might have been directorial choices but I cannot tell.
All in all I would go see the movie again, it is a lot cheaper and easier than waiting for the National Tour to come around again. Now I know there will be those who are adamant that Colm Wilkinson is the best Jean Valjean ever and we should just watch the 10th anniversary concert and be done for the day. I do enjoy the bit at the end with the Jean Valjean’s from around the world come and sing. There might be others that are huge Nick Jonas fans and love the 25th with a similar fervor. It’s not up to me to say which version you can like but it’s worth the ten dollars to go see the film version.