Les Misérables (2012)


Les Miserables
 
Some films aspire to cinematic greatness but fall short. Others manage it with seamless effort and surpass those expectations. This film was one of the holiday seasons most anticipated – it’s not hard to understand why but with exception to moments of magnificent passion, charm and powerfulness, that is where my indulgence of this fandom ends.

With no other option before him, Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman) stole bread to feed his family. For this desperate act, he is punished with a prison sentence. Now, following years of prison life, he’s paid his dues and is released on parole but finds life as a free man harsh. Unable to obtain work, he falls back into the same pattern of thievery, only this time, he’s forgiven by the kindly priest whom he stole from – a man who urges him to take his second chance and do right by it.
 
Years later, he has changed his name, become a prosperous mayor and respected businessman but skipping out on his parole those many years ago has set the law on him again, specifically, one man who has been relentlessly searching for Prisoner 24601, Inspector Javert (Russell Crowe). 
 
When their paths cross in an official capacity, Valjean realizes it’s only a matter of time before he is found out. His departure is delayed by a chance encounter with his former employee, Fantine (Anne Hathaway) who has fallen into despair leading her to a life on the streets as a prostitute, desperate enough to accept the life in order to provide for her young daughter. Ill beyond what medical can provide, Valjean promises the woman he will care for young Cosette, and with the child in tow, he makes his escape. His life then revolves around creating a home for Cosette (Amanda Seyfried) who he couldn’t love more if she were his daughter but with time, France enters a time of unrest leading Valjean and Javert back into one another’s paths.  
 
In the weeks leading up to the release of Les Misérables, I cannot tell you the times it appeared on my dashboard or in article headlines. Initially, the prospect of a musical version of this timeless story seemed oddly dull, I did grow more anxious to see it from the excitement the hullabaloo created plus friends who’d seen it on stage were enthusiastic. Unfortunately - this will probably “shock” many of you and perhaps even offend your cinematic tastes, but it cannot be helped: This was underwhelming. It wasn’t at all what I hoped it’d be in any sphere – and trust me when I say, I really wanted to like this. More than anything in a long time. 
 
To its credit, all of the right elements were in place, including grand landscapes, music, a respected director and a phenomenal cast but it didn't know what to do with them or how to handle the passion the story should evoke. Like all classics, I’ve not read the novel by Victor Hugo. In reading more about it, I've learned that this version is the closest to the novel and that makes the musical even less impacting. As a (cinematic) story, it morphed into a powerful representation of forgiveness and as a result, recognizing the persuasive message of Christianity symbolized in a very suspenseful saga is a presence not just seen but "felt." Here, there is a mistaken implication that the way to God is through man. The first and only time I’ve experienced the story was in the adaptation starring Liam Neeson (which is immediately a point against this version considering it lacks that phenomenal actor!). 
 
Originally written as a musical, I regret to say what should be an intact revolving theme of the script is missed entirely. That’s not to say it couldn’t have worked in this form – in fact, had certain things been altered, this would have been brilliance, but there was a lot of elements skipped over and brushed aside in favor of creating a Broadway-sized production that may be pretty but in pursuing that, it misses the point. By the time credits roll, personally, I was left feeling far emptier than the meaning of the story means to inspire. The entire film is sung in some form or another with only brief moments of dialogue but even then, it’s "sung," and as much as I enjoy musicals, this belittled what impact the story should have had. (Plus for some of the actors, hearing them attempt to have a conversation set to music is painful.) 
 
This lessens the beauty and sway the musical numbers should have had – and in fact, aside from the well-known “I Dreamed a Dream” number, young Cosette’s, “Castles on a Cloud” song and perhaps one or two others, there is very little to praise about the placement of the songs. It’s not that the staging isn’t lovely, it’s more that the script decides to throw out any speaking parts to effectively break from the music and whet our appetites for the next number – and in my humble opinion, choosing not to mix music and a well-written script was poorly done. It may have "worked" had it switched that up.  
 
Lest this seem like a bashing review, let me correct that impression. There is much to be praised in this elaborate re-make. The staging is grand in the scope of each scene, including everything from the outdoor sets to the dark, dingy streets, everything represents the notions of a Broadway spectacle well. Costuming is also a thing of beauty with its lavish brocade patterns and hoop-skirted ladies. And as for the biggest question – or debate if you like, of all, the actors. Interestingly, none of the songs were recorded in the studio with the actors lip-synching; a technique that is easy to spot in the film as the emotion is raw. 
 
Kudos to the ladies, Amanda Seyfried, and Anne Hathaway who both have lovely voices but I wasn’t always impressed with Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe. Both men turn in fantastic – as do its four main stars and the entire supporting cast which includes Helena Bonham Carter and Eddie Redmayne, emotional performances but Crowe didn’t have the same vocal talent as some of his co-stars. His one memorable number is “Stars.” (Not only was it powerful with the film work and setting but he actually sounded decent vocally.) To be truthful, I cannot say I was sorry to have seen this film on the big-screen because I’m not. It was beautiful in the small moments (like Valjean meeting Cosette) and aspired to be so much greater than it was. For that, I applaud it. No doubt, it will also pick up a slew of Academy Award nominations; I’m just not sure it will deserve some of the awards it may win. As it stands now, the 1998 version packs a superior emotional punch – and in truth, a story like this deserves that much.
 
(Parental Concerns: There are at least two scenes showing inappropriately corset-clothed women working at their “trade.” One woman grabs for a man’s crotch (out of camera range) as a means of distraction. Women are fondled and we experience Fantine’s first costumer (her expression of pain is focused on while the man kisses her neck). Comically, there is also a scene of a woman straddling another man, with movement. One song references sexual activity. Multiple people are killed by gunfire including one young boy and later men are seen lying in their own pools of blood. Profanity is the commonplace uses including a**, h*ll, sh*t and abuse of deity. The film is rated PG13.)
 

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Rissi
74 Comments

74 comments:

  1. Oh, Rissi, I am sorry you don't like it... You are missing out... :P

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    1. It's not that I didn't like it, Tory because there was much I did praise about the production, it's more that as a musical, this version totally missed the point. It wasn't nearly as impacting as the 1998 adaptation. And for me, that was sad to experience because the story is such a powerful one of forgiveness.

      Super glad you liked it, Tory. :)

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    2. Wow!!! I have the total opposite opinion!!! Isn't it funny how that can happen sometimes??? lol :) I thought it hit the nail straight on the head with this adaption. I loved the less than perfect singing because it made it seem like they were actually there, feeling those things and singing from their hearts. They were LIVING the lyrics.

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    3. Have you seen this article??? It pretty much sums up my entire opinion about the musicality and the vulgarity. :)

      http://bobbixby.wordpress.com/2013/01/05/miserable-means-miserable/

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    4. Nothing wrong with that, Tory; I'm very glad that you enjoyed it so well. :) And, yes, I always find it interesting/humorous to read when opinions differ so much - I don't mind a debate so long as its kept polite. In fact, it's fun sometimes. :D

      In terms of how they filmed the songs, it was wonderful - usually stars record in a studio but here they sung "live" while filming and yes, it does open an entirely new level of "emotion." I wasn't "bothered" by Russell Crowe's lack of an operatic voice but that was a "big" question for a lot of fans so my conclusion was that he was the weakest link in the vocal talent whereas Amanda and Anne sung their hearts out.

      Thanks for the link - I'll have to take a look at it. :)

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  2. Yeah, that's pretty much what my girl friend Savvy said -- it missed the mark, big time; the emotional impact wasn't there; the singing wasn't as solid as it could be, etc. I kind of think you have to LOVE the musical to love this film -- and I've never loved the musical.

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    1. Well, I must agree with Savvy, Charity! As a story, this version completely missed the point. It wasn't nearly as emotional as the 90's film even though the music was pretty - the two best numbers were 'Dreamed' and young Cosette's 'Castles' - but having the entire movie striped of "normal" dialogue felt like a huge error in judgment. As it stands now, I'd be sad if this swept the Oscars.

      I'd agree with that assessment - having never seen the musical I shouldn't judge but if it's anything like this movie, the non-musical packs a greater punch any day.

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    2. You and Savvy aren't alone -- Katie said pretty much the same thing, that some of the roles were miscast, having all the dialogue be sung was a bad idea, and that they underplayed the theme of redemption too much. I've noticed that is more of a trend than it used to be -- I just saw the new "Anna Karenina" and they did the SAME THING. It was good -- very good, very pretty, but rather empty, and that's a total tragedy because stories like these DO have a point, a moral message to impart, and if you miss that, you miss everything.

      (On a minor note -- the Bishop in the film is the singer who originated Valjean when the musical first started on stage, which I think is a wonderful thing.)

      Many bookphiles and fans of the musical don't like the 1998 adaptation because it strips out the last half of the story; I, however, like that, because I want to think of Valjean as living a happy life, not distancing himself from Marius and Cosette and dying alone. I was so ANGRY with him in the book for doing that. I'll still see this eventually, but I don't have very high expectations for it, in part because I've never "adored" the music.

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    3. Glad to know that. I think generally critics liked the film but I've heard a few people saying that it doesn't completely live up to the hype. I'd agree with what Katie says: Yes, Russell Crowe is a fantastic actor but he doesn't do the role of Javert justice. As my mother said, Geoffrey Rush is pretty hard to beat in that character - he plays is very well. It disappointed me that there wasn't "normal" conversation and I think had writer's written more of a conversational script, it would have inspired the message of forgiveness/redemption to be more powerful. As it stands, I just didn't feel that "passion" the story is meant to inspire.

      My family was trying to remember how the 1998 version ended and thought it was different from this - which as you say is truer to the novel. After all the guy went through (another thing the 90's one does better - more suspense!), he should have a "happy ending." Cosette loved him so much and he has the nerve to go off and... well, die!

      Seems like I recall seeing that somewhere about the Bishop actor - plus Samantha Barks played her same role in the 25th anniversary edition or something of the sort. It's neat to read that sort of trivia.

      Saw your thoughts on Anna Karenina and am glad you liked it visually, anyway. I always planned on seeing it at some point simply for the cast but I already know I won't be that fond of the story because it's such a tragedy.

      Hope you enjoy 'Les Mis' when you do see it. :)

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    4. I LOVE Russell Crowe. For some reason I can't understand, I just... well, I'm really attracted to him, which isn't my usual type at all! But once I heard he was cast, I had my doubts. He's a brilliant actor but not that great of a singer. (Oh, dear, are we having a repeat of the Phantom film all over again?)

      1998 ends with a certain someone's death and Valjean going home to Cosette and Marius, a free man. That's an ending I can get behind -- it ends on an incredibly powerful, shocking note, instead of tapering off into total misery.

      I did really like Anna Karenina -- I think Keira is the BEST Anna I've seen yet (well... maybe she ties with Vivien Leigh), so that alone recommends it to me. But yes, it is a tragedy!

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    5. Wow, it is so interesting how different people can see things differently!!! I absolutely HATED the ending to the 98 version because to me, Javert's death isn't the end to the story. Seeing Marius and Cossete live happily ever after together is sort of the embodiment of all that Valjean had been striving toward all his life. :)

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    6. Charity - ah, well! That is just one of those unexplained things in life you must except... right!? ;D Crowe is a fabulous actor but you are justified in those doubts if you want the star to have a credible vocal talent. Or that is my opinion.

      Yes! That is how we remembered the ending being - mom was talking about the musical and going, "I didn't remember Valjean dying..." Needless to say in "our" version that is changed. You put it so well: "instead of tapering off into total misery."

      This will be my only foray into the story of Anna Karenina. Mom saw a version years ago and was so depressed by it that I've never been inspired to rent it.

      Tory - LOL! Yeah, it's fun to read differing opinions. :D

      To be honest, I understand what you are saying and am sorry you dislike the ending to the '98 version so much. You reach an excellent conclusion in saying that all Valjean wanted was to to provide Cosette a better life and that comes full circle in the "original" ending BUT for me, seeing him be able to experience joy with Cosette in life is far more beautiful. :)

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    7. Methinks it's his deep voice that makes me like Crowe. I have a weakness for deep voices. But yes, he is a wonderful actor and that helps. I still am eager to see him as Javert, although -- no one can top Geoffrey Rush. I'd argue that's his most powerful performance, second only to "The King's Speech." =)

      Focus on the Family has a wonderful radio drama of Les Mis -- that is also like the book, it has a bittersweet ending.

      "Anna Karenina" is indeed sad, but at least its sadness serves the purpose Tolstoy was trying to spell out -- happiness built on the unhappiness of others cannot last, and is soon undone by its own miseries. I'm not sure why I love the story so much -- possibly because it makes me think, and it's deeper than one might suspect. But yes, it is GORGEOUS.

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    8. Ah, ha! There's the reason why: After all, you like Liam Neeson as an actor too. He's got such a distinct voice. ;o Geoffrey Rush is fab in the role - that was one of the first things my mom said: It is hard to beat him.

      Hmmm... never heard the radio drama. The only thing I've listened to on tape was a production of David Copperfield years ago. All I remember was that we enjoyed it as a family.

      It's so good to know that the 2012 film of 'Karenina' is good. Even if it has a purpose - though it's MUCH easier to accept, I detest sad/bittersweet endings. In the case of this film, you are right though: Viewers nor characters should be rewarded considering that the lives are built on cheating spouses and other immoral shenanigans.

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    9. I really do have a "crush" on good voices -- Alan Rickman, Jeremy Irons, Liam Neeson, Russell Crowe, Benedict Cumberbach... the list goes on and on. I'll probably send you an e-mail with more thoughts on the 98 version and this one, particularly about Javert -- I'm undecided on whether or not to write a blog post about it, since I know I'd just incite arguments among my readers with my opinions. =P

      They do some beautiful radio dramas. I have Les Mis, the entire Narnia collection, and I bought my mom The Secret Garden and Anne of Green Gables. It's a great way to spend a winter evening.

      Since you don't like sad endings -- never, ever watch "Oscar & Lucinda." Just saying. I love 90% of that movie, but when we get to the end, I want to hunt down that author and bury him alive for being that mean.

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    10. Hey, there's nothing wrong with that - those are all phenomenal actors! :D I like them all for the "powerful" roles they've respectively played. And how can we go wrong with Benedict Cumberbach as Sherlock!?

      I think I remember reading your review on Oscar & Lucinda. It probably "screamed" unhappy ending so I chose to skip that film. Needless to say, if the film is THAT bad, I'd likely feel the same way. The pointless ending of 'Mill on the Floss' was like that for me. It ended and I was like, "that was a HORRIBLE movie!"

      That's wonderful to know about the radio dramas. Now you talk about them again, it seems like we've brought them up in past conversation. I confess I get caught up in my TV shows over the winter months but I love to play board games and like I mentioned before, the one I listened to was quite entertaining!

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    11. PS: I feel your dilemma about blogging. I've still got some posts in my files that I go back and forth over publishing. When you're in doubt, I suppose its best to leave it be but then, so long as its "polite" debate, I don't mind. :)

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    12. Benedict is lovely as Sherlock. I'm going to have fun rooting for... err... against him in the new Star Trek film. ;)

      Oscar & Lucinda: let me put it this way -- it has the most adorable little romance you have ever seen in your life, between Ralph Fiennes and Cate Blanchett, and then one of them DIES in exactly the way they have FEARED their entire life -- leaving the other to mourn. It's like a Nicholas Sparks novel set in the Australian outback.

      I used to draw when listening to radio dramas. I ought to take it up again.

      What's been primarily on my mind of late is how Christian standards are slipping when it comes to movie, and what we excuse when it comes to movies, and how we treat one another's standards. Yet, I can't write a blog post on that without coming across as condescending, judgmental, and hypocritical. So, I stay quiet. But... I don't like bickering in any form, so often I'll keep my mouth shut in general just to avoid a fight.

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    13. You said that right! Benedict is grand as Sherlock.

      Aw! Really!? Cute romantics are my weakness. ;D I hate when a movie is so "good" and then the end is a huge let-down. I saw one like that not long ago but cannot seem to conjure the name of it now. (Obviously, it was unforgettable.) Because I like to know the spoilers of a movie, if I rent something "knowing" that it won't be happy, I can deal with it because I chose to still see it but if it's a total shock and I liked the film, it's not good. (Just reading some synopsis' give away the "tone" of a movie.)

      Standard's are slipping. It is very unfortunate. We just had a similar conversation with our neighbor this afternoon albeit on a different subject. It is hard to write a post sometimes without coming across as if you're being judgmental or a "know-it-all." My goal is always to preference things that these opinions are strictly my OWN and I'm not suggesting anyone else should believe them. It has opened some interesting discussion so far and I respect that everyone else is entitled to their opinion also. Believe me, I know what you are saying. No one likes conflict (trust me, I don't do well with it), but so long as readers are polite and are merely expressing their thought in much the same way as I am, I don't mind it. :)

      Oh, you make me jealous, girl! I cannot draw to save my life. :D

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    14. PS (again): What you said about Sparks? It made me laugh!

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    15. Nicholas Sparks is the toe-jam of Satan. =P

      I wasn't warned going into O&L -- I was what, fourteen? Caught it on television one afternoon while cat-sitting! I hated the ending but loved the rest of it, so I wound up owning it -- but I can't watch it much without crying.

      Christians are free to have different standards, but not to try and pressure another believer to violate their own standard to watch something. That's a sin, yet I run into it constantly!

      I'm... fair to middlin' as an artist, nothing special but I used to enjoy it. I haven't done much of it lately.

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    16. That's perhaps a little harsh. ;D He does have some good things to say. Sometimes. LOL!

      When you know nothing about a movie and are then crushed in the final minutes, it's way worse. For example, I'm going to take the ending of a certain ITV drama way better because I've read all about it (plus there was you! :D) and looked at photos. Had I not seen that, I'd be devastated.

      I agree. I don't mind talking/debating movies (or any subject) that I have no interest in seeing but if someone "insists" that I see it, that isn't something I think they should press on you.

      That's cool! Even my five-petal flowers are pathetic. The eight-year-old I babysit once observed that I drew a lot of flowers - or butterflies, cannot recall which. Inside I was laughing my head off that she even noticed something like that. But then, she is 8 going on 25. :)

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    17. Nah, it's spot on. He spreads misery wherever he goes. =D

      I knew about a Certain Someone's Death going in too, because it was ALL OVER TUMBLR five seconds after it happened. But that didn't make it any easier to bear. =P I think sometimes that's why I like reading books before seeing the movies, then I'll know beforehand if some devastating event will transpire that I'll cry over.

      Hehe, you're the butterfly flower girl. That's cute. Maybe I'll send you something I've drawn sometime -- I did a couple of sketches of Scar (from The Lion King) that I'm rather proud of.

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    18. ...if you say so... ;D

      Yeah, it does seem as if people aren't very sensitive towards viewers who'd rather NOT be spoiled (looking at Tumblr!). Guess I am weird that way: So long as I know something dreadful is about to happen ahead of time, I can "deal" with it. Or perhaps its more to do with the fact that I've already raved my heart out prior to finally watching whatever show or movie I'm sad about. By then, I'm all talked out. LOL!

      That doesn't sound so bad! Thanks for that. :) Oooh! That's an "intense" subject for you - one of Disney's more terrifying villains. If you haven't, you should frame some of these - and sometime I'd like to see something you drew. :)

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    19. Yeah, and there's a lot of whining about it on tumblr too, and here I am thinking -- if you can't watch your show until morning, why are you on tumblr looking through the tag?! Either look and don't complain, or simply stay away from tumblr until you've seen your show! <- typical INTJ "caring" attitude.

      Scar is awesome. Someone did a list of Disney villains and ranked them awhile back, and I was majorly irritated that he wound up so far down on the list! DUDE, HE KILLED HIS OWN BROTHER!! Doesn't that rate top tier villainy?! It wasn't until I was an adult that I rewatched and said, "Um... this is HAMLET WITH LIONS!!" =D

      I'll have to hunt it down now and scan it in for you.

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    20. If you know that Tumblr is that way, then stop whining about it and stay off-line for the day. I agree 100%. Don't be so wishy-washy, right!? And don't blame Tumblr when YOU could chose to not click through its pages! Duh!

      Never thought of Lion King that way. Its been years since I saw it although I don't think I've seen an adaptation of Hamlet. My cousin gave me his favorite version once but I never got around to seeing it. Ah, well, someday. :)

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    21. Shakespeare is not my thing, but I'll say this:

      If you've seen The Lion King, you've seen Hamlet, only with a happy ending. Basically, the King (Mufasa) dies at the hand of his evil brother (Scar), who then takes over his kingdom and his wife. Hamlet (Simba) then sees his father's ghost (as Simba does his father, in the clouds) and returns to ... fix it. But in Shakespeare's version, just about everyone dies. =P

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    22. He isn't my "thing" either - again, the language bugs me with all the "thees" and "thous."

      That's good to know that I've seen the "kid-friendly" version. ;D

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    23. Oh, gosh, Shakespeare is a pain --

      "Dost thou bite thy thumb at me, sir?!"
      "Yes, sir, I do bite my thumb at you, sir!"

      *insert massive eyeroll*

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  3. Thanks for the review :) I was kinda "meh whatever" about the whole thing. My parents had talked about taking me to see it (although they were pretty sure that the other version couldn't be topped) at some point, but I didn't really care. I'll have to let them see this review. I have a question...what do you think of Anne Hathaway's short hair? Sierra
    Keep growing beautiful!

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    1. At first, I was also, Sierra but the more I read/heard about the film, the more excited I got - plus I love the cast! I think if your parent's like the "old" version, they'll want to see this but in my opinion, I'd agree: This doesn't top the 90's version by a LONG shot. Hope this review helps in their decision. :)

      Honestly, Anne Hathaway looks really rough for her character in this movie but in the shots I've seen of her at events, she looks really cute in a pixie. Looking back, I think she's "prettier" in a more natural way with length to her hair whereas this style "hardens" her features a bit - makes her look edgier. How about you?

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  4. So sorry you didn't like it!! :( My cousin and I went to see it on Christmas Day and loved it. I own the soundtrack and listen to it all the time.

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    1. Oh, I wasn't sorry to have seen it, Rosie - and I did like it... the musical just didn't live up to my expectations. Have you ever seen the 1998 non-musical adaptation? It is MARVELOUS and the impact is unmatched - plus the ending isn't quite as weepy. My cousin has my copy right now, and I really want to re-watch it to confirm my remembrance of that adaptation.

      The music was lovely - especially liked the famous 'Dreamed' song (Anne was spot-on PERFECTION) and Cosette's 'Castle' song. :)

      SO happy to hear you and your cousin enjoyed it, Rosie!

      (Hope your Internet issues are back up and running smoothly. :D)

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    2. I have to say (sorry for the trolling....) I do like the 25th Anniversary Concert versions of the songs better. The music was MUCH better done in concert than how they presented it in the film...and yet, it is music...in an epic musical...so I loved it anyway....

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    3. Only having heard a few of the 25th versions, I think I'd agree with that, Micah. The vocal performances are MUCH stronger if my recollection serves me right.

      NEVER apologize for all the comments, girl - love each one. :)

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  5. Wheras I haven't yet seen it so can't yet say whether I agree with you or not...hearing from someone that they DIDN'T care about it that much is actually somewhat refreshing...after the HUGE hype and frenzy that everyone has been in over it! After I watch it, I may join the ranks of the lovers and dreamers, of course, but for now at least, I appreciated the balance your review brings. ;)

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    1. Believe it or not, Kellie, I think the reviews are mixed. Most of the mainstream critics liked it but I've heard some say that it wasn't as good as they'd hoped. When you've seen the Liam Neeson version, everything else seems to pale in comparison though to be honest, this COULD have been as impacting - it chose not to be. Even in the disappointment, I wasn't sorry to have gone to see it.

      Hope you enjoy this when you see it - the music is pretty. And thank you for reading!

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    2. p.s. I loved the movie, loved the Liam Neeson version, loved some other random version I watched...I just love the strength of the story. Not particularly because of the musical (though I do love the music), but just because (as I said in another comment on here somewhere), the story is so passionate about REDEMPTION. I think it is beautiful. :)

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    3. The story is powerful, Micah - that's what makes it such a favorite with Christian audiences. It's because of that forgiveness/redemption message but for me, none of that was nearly as poignant in this 2012 re-make. I'm so glad you found it among the musical though. :)

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  6. I really wanted to watch it,but it sounds like it has to much inapropriate content for me.
    Maybe I could find an edited version after it comes out on DVD.

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    1. I wouldn't recommend this for young family viewing, Ella - it's a bit too mature for young people. My aunt told a story about a guy who took his 5-year-old granddaughter and that is CERTAINLY too young. I think it all depends on the family: For example, when I was a younger teen, I saw NO PG13 movies unless my parents had previewed it first, and even then, I watched them WITH my mother/a parent. Sometimes certain scenes were fast-forward through. I think if you watch something as a family, it makes a huge difference.

      (Did you ever see the 90's version of this? It's more "adult" also but very good.)

      Once this is out on DVD, you'll be able to see it edited through the company ClearPlay if you own their DVD player. My family invested in it a while back and we aren't sorry. Sometimes the film "jumps" around a bit when it cuts out portions but it's worth it to skip out on hearing crass language. Hope you can find it, Ella!

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  7. Oh, I'm so sad you thought it was missing some. I loved Les Mis, however, I do agree with some of your points. I thought that Anne Hathaway did a fantastic job,and while Hugh Jackman...was a fabulous actor, his singing wasn't as powerful as I expected it to be. Annnd, they cut Eponine's song "A Little Drop of Rain" in half. That upset me, but all in all, I loved it as a movie!

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    1. Yes, it sure was, Joanna. I'm sad about it but wasn't at all sorry to have seen it at the theaters. It was lovely... only it lacked the same powerful story-telling that the 90's version had. It's an unfortunate thing for me because I really wanted to like it as well. Anne was the STAR of the entire movie - her voice is beautiful and yes, the guys were out-shined in general. It's too bad because as a actor, Hugh is a great one.

      Oooh! Sorry to know they cut Eponine's song. Suppose it had something to do with the already loooong run time. :)

      Glad you loved it, Joanna - thanks for reading and sharing your input!

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  8. I liked Les Mis, but I thought there was way too much singing. I get it was a musical, but they didn't have to sing even casual dialogue.

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    1. I don't disagree with you at all, Jessica. The main point of the story was terribly ignored as a result of their being (for lack of a better way to say it) no script! It was sometimes a bit painful to experience. You put it very well.

      Thanks so much for dropping by - please do so again anytime. :)

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  9. I cannot describe my love for this movie....so fantastic. Such a deep and touching story so centered around redemption. I adored it.

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    1. Yay! So glad to know you found this one met and surpassed your expectations, Micah! It's it prior versions, I agree with everything you say. :)

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  10. Interesting review Rissi! I haven't read the book (it's still sitting on my eReader--maybe this year?) or watched the musical so I'm not sure if I'll be checking out this movie at some point (then again I'm generally not a big fan/watcher of musicals; still have not finished watching Fiddler on the Roof and I started watching that years ago *blushes* You think the setting would've compelled me enough to finish the rest of it...)

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    1. Neither have I, Lianne but then with me (who never reads ANY classic lit.), that's not a shock. ;D

      Well, if you do see it, I hope you share what you think! Did you see any version of this story? Granted the 90's adaptation is the only other one I've seen but I don't see any other one out that that is able to take its place. So far. :)

      I saw Fiddler on the Roof years ago and haven't re-watched it since. So long as the movie breaks for "normal" dialogue I love a good musical now and again - sadly that was another point against this film, there was NO scripting!

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  11. Huh I haven't seen it yet...I still really want to :) but this is really good to know, thank you :)

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    1. Thank you for reading, Miss Hatcher - I hope you enjoy the film. :)

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  12. I'm sorry to hear LeMis disappointed you, Rissi. I enjoyed it very much, but like you, I think it could have benefited from more dialogue and less song. The actors were fantastic, and had me and my sis crying at the end. Beautiful movie. I haven't seen the one with Liam Neeson yet.

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    1. I was also, Gwendolyn. In retrospect, the 1998 adaptation spoiled me but it's also not a bad thing to watch that first then see the musical because the story is fleshed out much better and holds more meaning.

      If I had to pick ONE big complaint, it'd be that the film chose to forgo dialogue - with more scripting and less singing two things would have been accomplished: The musical numbers would have gained more "power" and the story would have been better told.

      Happy you enjoyed the film! :)

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  13. This was my first ever experience with Les Mis, never read the book and never seen the play but I LOVED this version! I did think that Eddie Redmayne sounded a bit like a Muppet when he was singing but I loved Hathaway and Jackman. The last song with Hathaway and Jackman at the end had me bawling my eyes out. I thought this had a ton of emotion and that the acting was superb not to mention the movie wasn't completely smutty like 90% a lot of the movies out there today. I loved it. I'm sorry you didn't care for it, my cousin who went with me to see it didn't care for it either. :-(

    xoxo,
    Renee

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    1. Really!? That's great, Renee! So happy you liked it. It wasn't that I didn't like the movie - it was memorable in many ways - it was more that it didn't meet the expectations I'd set up for it. Liam Neeson stars in the non-musical version and the story is SO much more impacting. It's a powerful, suspenseful saga of redemption - and the ending is better. Or it is in my opinion. :)

      HA! I cannot say I noticed Eddie's vocals - or lack of, but your comment made me laugh! If I remember right, the song he sang with Amanda (at the gate and beyond) was pretty - I remember thinking it melded really well. The final number was quite good though I liked Anne's 'Dreamed' song. It was so raw and one of the most emotional songs.

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  14. You read my review....so you know my thoughts. That being said, I do feel like this version lacked "an emotional punch" as it were regarding some of the characters. At least for me--I had friends bawling their eyes out. While I love musicals, I don't know if that is the most conducive way to get people invested in the characters.

    Hands down, Anne Hathaway's performance was my favorite. She was fantastic

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    1. Indeed I did, Ella and am glad to have. :) I'm not a crier save for rare films (like October Baby), and this one certainly didn't inspire tears. It's sad because it could have been that great. Or that was my overall impression.

      No, I think you are exactly right: This sort of musical is not the way to invest viewers in the characters. It's hard because we WANT to be but don't ever - or rarely - feel the "pull."

      Anne was FANTASTIC. I wouldn't mind if she won the Oscar but don't think the film deserves all its other nominees. :D

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  15. I decided to see it and... hmm, rather poorly done for a movie that should fulfill the definition of "epic." I think the weird camera angles, the shaky cam, and the long, continuous shots pretty much did it in for me. Also, it lacked any sort of character development and the sing-talking didn't help it much. I'm not sorry I saw it, but I don't think it's "Best Picture" material by a mile. =P

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    1. So ya' gave in, huh!? LOL!:D

      As you know by now, that was my overall impression also. Nothing inspired the "greatness" that the earlier version did. I didn't mind the camerawork so much as I thought the lack of dialogue basically "did in" the story. It was a poor decision in my uneducated opinion. Ella was just saying that also(above comment) that this was so lacking in investing us in the lives of the character's - and you are both accurate in saying that. I think if I could only pick one thing to have changed, it'd have been the "sing-talking." It was a BIG mistake.

      Glad you aren't sorry to have seen it though! I'll look forward to more of your thoughts - and agree 100%. This isn't "best picture" material AT ALL. But it should have been.

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    2. There are things I liked about it -- but overall, I think they could have done much better. I think it tried so hard to be artistic that it undermined itself (and it didn't help that half the extreme close-ups went in and out of focus!). I haven't seen all the Oscar nominees (obviously) but so far, I think "Lincoln" deserves to win.

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    3. It was the same with my family. None of us hated it but we didn't "love" it either. Sad since it COULD have been so much better.

      I felt pretty "meh" about the Oscar noms. this year. It made me happy to see Anne nominated since she deserves it but other than that... Oh! That's right, Brave earned a nod also. Such a cute flick. :)

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    4. I think I may watch it once more before forming a true opinion on it. I think once you KNOW what it's like, it's easier to sit back and enjoy something without the constant distractions of "wait, WHAT?? WHY DID THEY DO THAT?" Sometimes my views will change in time -- hated Snow White & the Huntsman the first time through, quite enjoyed it six months later on DVD. But yeah, I do think it might have benefited from a few changes.

      I did like their Javert, though -- it makes him much more human and... well, pitiable. Or maybe I'm just a sucker for misguided anti-heroes.

      The Oscar nominees are pretty blah this year, and they're not even giving a pretense of fairness -- no nomination for The Dark Knight Rises? No nomination for The Hobbit? ARE YOU KIDDING ME??

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    5. That will be my family also - though I don't suspect it will rank much higher than it is now. Believe it or not, my dad probably had the most good to say about it but then, he always did like the story.

      I hear you. Sometimes I tweak my reviews after posting them here - not so much because my opinion changes but more because I feel a need to cut out some of my incoherent babbling, and some of the time on reflection an opinion will expand. (Likely in the next week, I'll probably do some editing to this review.)

      Honestly, other than noticing a lack of intensity like Rush and Neeson had, I didn't pay much mind to Javert's character to be honest. In reading your thoughts, and reflecting, you are right: He wasn't that "villainous." That scene at the end even shows how regretful he feels - when he walks through the path of deceased men. That was maybe his best "moment."

      Yeah, I've only ever watched the Oscars ONE time the entire way through - and it was with my aunt which was weird since she couldn't have cared less about the show. Ah, well! Before then, and since then I just satisfy myself with the last twenty to thirty minutes; it's probably all the time I'll give them this year also. That reveals the "biggest" wins anyway. :) My cousin LOVES 'Rises' - in fact I bought her a copy for Christmas.

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    6. I gave it a rewatch (a screener turned up) and as I suspected, I do like it a LOT better now than I did at first. I also know what I think my main objection is now, and why it doesn't emotionally resonate -- but I'll save that for a blithering post later today (in a nutshell -- once you've seen the shorter version a hundred times, the musical seems much more bloated and ponderous).

      Ahh, Javert... pinning the metal on Gavroche was extremely touching, a throwback to his lyric "I was born inside a jail / I'm from the gutter too!" SIGH, poor man.

      I watched the Oscars several times, but this year the lineup is just... lackluster. I don't have a TV anymore (meaning: no cable, no reception) so I won't be watching this year!

      Most people think the sun shines out of DKR's backside -- I think it's too long, but still good. And I LOVE Anne Hathaway as Catwoman. =D

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    7. Lucky you. :)

      That's wonderful that you like it so much more now. I'm glad for that. It will be something I won't mind occasionally watching but sadly it won't ever become as impacting as the "other" version. Plus if this is the closest to the novel... wow! That makes my favorite film all the more powerful. IMO. (Read your post and thought it was great. :D)

      Seeing Javert show such compassion was wonderful - and I liked his "Stars" number also. Those were Crowes' two "big" scenes.

      I'm looking forward to seeing Anne as Catwoman but beyond that... I'm not sure how I'll like the rest of DKR.

      You aren't going to miss anything with the Oscars anyway. ;D

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    8. Regarding the novel ... both of Victor Hugo's most famous works (Les Miserables and The Hunchback of Notre Dame) very much explore his own struggle with God, and with the Catholic faith (such as Javert committing suicide, thus giving up all hope of heaven -- punishing himself, because Valjean wouldn't). BUT... you have to dig deeper in the novels to find them than you do in certain adaptations. He always wrote ensemble pieces -- lots of characters, lots of action, lots of motivation, lots of misery and in the end, just about everyone dies.

      So -- and I hate to say this too loudly, because it could get me stoned in some circles -- yes, the 98 version IS more impacting, because it is what the story would be if Hugo had had an editor. It cuts out all the fat, all the characters that really don't need to be there, and focuses on what the main crux of the story should be. And yes, I do like its version of events more than the original novel, BUT... I also appreciate an adaptation that DOES "get it right" and follow the book. So, half of me favors the shorter, "better" version, and the author part of me says, "Good for you, in doing the book justice."

      Poor Javert -- he's really not a villain at all, just ... lost.

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    9. Ugh! I don't think I like Hugo's novels - I'll stick with the movie adaptations. If a character dying has a purpose, it's admittedly easier to accept but when it's pointless, I get mad. "Searching" to find the message isn't a bad thing but it makes the "enjoyment" harder - albeit in a film like Les Mis, it's meant to impart a message of redemption/forgiveness, not be rainbows and sunshine.

      Please say that as loudly as you wish - it won't harm you at all around here! ;D Soon as I get it back from Liz, I plan on watching the
      "better" version. From my memory, it pays a harder-hitting tribute to what the "real" story should look like.

      (Speaking of editing/writing - I should be working on the Femnista project! :O)

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    10. I sat here for a few minutes trying to think of some way to defend Victor Hugo but -- I can't. The dude must have been chronically depressed; I can't think of any other reason to kill off everyone in his books. =P

      As I said, I think different adaptations are good for different reasons -- each one usually highlights what it feels is important; we never get "THE" quintessential adaptation of anything (in my view) but instead, we get interpretations of the same novel -- like, I much prefer the humor of the shorter "Emma" (and the main cast), but the Garai remake is more faithful to the novel, so I like that about it. I think how "Jane Eyre" was condensed in the more recent version is terrific -- and I love the miniseries from a few years ago, because it has the most likable characters. Where Les Mis stands, I like the music and I like that it's faithful to the book in this version; but I also LOVE the razor-sharp focus of the 98 version. I freely believe you can love different adaptations equally, for different reasons, so... it's all good, in my book.

      The Blu Ray of the 98 version just came out, and it finally hit $9 (my target price) on Amazon, so ... by tomorrow, I will have it in my hot little hands. I'd lend you my DVD but I think Ella should have it, since she's never seen this adaptation before. =D

      Looking forward to reading your Femnista article!

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    11. You won't get any argument from me about Hugo's cruelty although I really shouldn't comment considering that I've not read his works. Still, given everything I've learned through this, I'll stick with the film adaptations. :)

      I agree with you completely about loving multiple versions for different reasons. The TNT version of David Copperfield is a favorite for some of its cast and the pretty theatrics but I always thought I liked the ending best in the Masterpiece version. Then there's the multiple versions of Emma, all of which I love (including the Mark Strong/Kate Beckinsale version) and the 2005 version of "P&P" - one that has quickly marched up the ranks in my book. It's just really good. Plus I appreciate how well it told the story in a third of the time. For their own reasons, all of the classic adaptations have something good to offer - and like those, I feel that way about this film. Love the costumes and the actors, it's just the story/scripting that is sorely lacking.

      YES! Good for you snagging Les Mis at such an awesome deal - saw that in the flyers but it's not a combo so I'll stick with the DVD for now. Oh, gosh! I wouldn't expect you to loan out your DVD copy - please do send it to Ella! I'd be anxious to hear her thoughts on it. Liz lives like two minutes away so I'd just call her and say, "I want my DVD back!" if it would come to that. ;D

      It's slow going with Femnista but I made some progress yesterday so perhaps by tonight - or tomorrow at latest, you'll have it. :)

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    12. You should read classics once in awhile -- if only for the beauty of the bygone style of writing. I owe my enormous vocabulary to pouring over Sherlock Holmes books when I was a kid. =D

      I usually do favor one adaptation more than the other, but unless one completely butchers the source material, they all have merits, and say a lot about not only the society adapting them but the screenwriters as well. I've surprised myself -- the 2005 P&P is now my favorite, and never I saw that one coming. I suppose because it IS shorter, and there are times in the longer version where the plot really lags. Plus, Keira has in time become one of my favorite actresses, and I think she does a wonderful job as Lizzie.

      Heh, you MAY have to call her up and shout for your DVD. I usually don't loan out mine, but a girl at church has asked to borrow the second season of "Downton Abbey." I'll hand it over -- but with a death glare stare that implies, "I want it back within two weeks -- unscratched!" Heh.

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    13. ...I know I should but it's terrible reading them! I literally have to *force* myself to forge ahead (only one I've managed is "S&S") and I figure I waste enough time as it is, so why do it on something I'll probably give up on anyway!? Sigh It's a dilemma.

      I've no doubt, there is a lot of good - and teaching elements in them.

      Favoring an adaptation is usually something I do also. It has amazed me how quickly Focus Features "P&P" has cemented itself as a favorite. Simply because it was the first ever Austen film I watched (with exception perhaps to the 90's "S&S" - cannot remember which came first), it is "special" but beyond that... yep, I LOVE the big-screen version. Mom and I usually watch it nowadays simply for practicality - it's over in 2 hours rather than six.

      Kiera Knightley has been a favorite for a while now! Hard to believe she's the girl running around the forest in 'Princess of Thieves.' ;D

      Knowing Liz, I may have to. These days, she usually returns things very promptly but when I saw her a couple weeks ago, she hadn't even watched it yet, something also not like her. Ah, well! She'll get it back. I'm not in the least worried. You're giving up 'Downton'!? This is risky. :O Hope you get it back unscathed.

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    14. S&S is the only Austen I've read -- I was surprised how rarely the male characters are actually in it! I'd have to say I've read at least one book from most of the major classic authors -- Charlotte Bronte, Charles Dickens, Jane Austen, Leo Tolstoy, etc. It completely depends on the book and the story itself whether or not I stick with it. Though I will admit, I'm much more likely to read modern YA fiction before a movie comes out!

      My first Austen film was Paltrow's "Emma." I can still quote the entire thing, from memory, while watching it! =P

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    15. Ah, yes! I remember you saying you can quote Emma. That is impressive. :)

      Thinking back, I started Jane Eyre years ago but never managed to finish it - perhaps I'll pick it up again sometime. So many things about the novelization of "S&S" was different. Nothing exciting was said about the engagement of Elinor and Marianne whereas it was more of a narrative of Elinor's thoughts without being in the first person. Learning to love YA fiction - most of the one's I have read have been awesome if not a bit morally corrupt at times.

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