Internet Movie Database
CinemaSins Movie Reviews
From the novel of the same name by Victor Hugo, and dudes, if you haven’t read it DO IT NOW, it’s AWESOME.
Love + forgiveness = redemption in France in the early 1800s.
So this musical came to the SF Bay Area around 1990. And Mr. Otter and I, who love musicals, borrowed the soundtrack from one of our libraries and listened to it.
And we were not impressed.
But we had never read the book, and that was a point in our lives when we spent a lot of time reading to each other. So we got the book from the library and read it to each other.
The whole thing.
It took NINE MONTHS.
It is, after all, 1400 pages long; think of reading the Lord of the Rings trilogy out loud (which I have also done).
And it was GREAT. We loved it, and I have re-read it several times.
And after reading the book, we totally got the musical. Because now we understood and loved the characters, and the situations, and why everyone was doing/feeling/reacting as they were. And I saw the musical twice in San Francisco (with that huge revolving stage, it was amazing!). And I have the French, British and American soundtracks (the American is best) and have listened to them a billion times. And love them. And the book.
So guess how excited I was about the movie? Yup, on a scale of one to ten it was about 150.
We saw previews. I *vibrated* in my seat, I was jumping up and down so fast. I was so excited.
And then it was opening. On CHRISTMAS DAY, oh my god. No, I’m not THAT excited.
But…Mr. Otter and I both had the day after Christmas off, and it’s a big shopping day. Let’s go to the very first show that day at our local movie theater, I said. Everyone will either be shopping or sleeping in.
So we got there at 10 am, on a bitterly (for the San Francisco Bay Area, around 45 degrees) cold morning, before the box office opened. We were third in line, and the theater was half full…although when we got out, there were lines EVERYWHERE, and didn’t we feel smug?
So after all that…how was it?
Well, True Fans, as you know, I sent an email right afterwards to say how wonderful it was. I was overwhelmed. I was not the only woman in the theater crying my eyes out, I can tell you. It was really really amazing.
But…details kept niggling in my brain. So I decided to wait to review it til I had seen it again, which I knew was imminent.
And indeed, we ended up with a house full of guests over New Year’s, and the Barracuda, the Magyar Princess and I joined Bassoon Boy and Craftygirl at the 8:30 pm show on New Year’s Eve, figuring nobody else would be there. We were partly right, nobody else but ANNOYING SOCIAL REJECTS were there…someone kept kicking my seat, and the guy ahead of us had to make all possible noise with far too much food…but I digress.
It was really really good. Anne Hathaway was AMAZING, she just broke my heart both times. Hugh Jackman was excellent. I liked the guy who played Marius. I kept thinking Amanda Seyfried looked familiar, and I was right, I had just seen her in In Time. The actress who plays Eponine (Craftygirl says she was Cosette in the original production) was excellent too. And I liked Sascha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter more than I have in anything else they’ve done.
Russell Crowe…not so much. Not a good choice. I always think he looks whiny and depressed because he has almost no facial expression…and in this movie, everyone sang in real time with closeups, so that was not so good. Especially the part where he can’t really sing that well. Sure, he was on key and hit the notes…but everyone else in the cast was a GOOD SINGER. Him? no. And it was painfully obvious, and a shame, because Javert’s songs are really wonderful if you can do them justice. Which he didn’t.
The cinematography, settings, costumes, all the STUFF was good. The bits of rewriting to make it comprehensible to people who have not seen the show or read the book (now you know why you should, don’t you?) were good.
What DIDN’T I like?
- Russell Crowe. Okay, but not as good as someone who could actually look and sing the part AND ACT.
- The rinky-dinky disneyesque song they added for Valjean to sing in the carriage as he takes Cosette away.
- Cutting some really good songs that advance the plot and make more sense of it. Would it have been so hard to keep them in and make it a 3 hour movie instead of 2 hrs and 30 minutes?
- Cutting whole characters (like Marius’ grandfather, who shows up for approximately twelve seconds).
- Having Javert pin his medal on Gavroche. This is an affront, would never have happened and should never have been done. Feh.
- Why didn’t Fantine lead him away at the end? did Jackman really have to grandstand? it’s what the song says, after all…and is an awesome ending. Wierd.
Overall? lovely. I’d go see it in the theater a third time. I’m probably not going to buy it, but would gladly rent it every couple of years. But really? the book is SO good and so much better, I’m just going to reread that. Join me!
Oh, and this is the best review ever. Wish I had thought of that.
Also awesome: Les Mis in emoticons…
Okay, one more: Nostalgia Chick talks about the stage show and the movie. Funny and absolutely on target, in two parts: Part 1 and Part 2.