From Miserable to Magnificent
Having served his time Prisoner 24601, Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman), is set free but if it wasn't for the charity and forgiveness of a priest would have ended up straight back doing time again. Having been awarded a second chance at life Valjean reinvents himself, breaking his parole in the process which leads to Javert (Russell Crowe) making it his life long mission to track Valjean down. It in turns leads to Valjean having to live life always looking over his shoulder even when he takes in Cosette (Amanda Seyfried) the daughter of Fantine (Anne Hathaway) raising her as if she was her own.
Right from the opening scene of "Les Mis├ęrables" director Tom Hooper makes a statement with an impressive scene of prisoners pulling in a large vessel in to a dock as the waves crash over them. And Hooper doesn't stop there because through out the movie he seeks to impress with great visuals and not just those which scream scale but beautiful street scenes as the bustle of people makes it feel real. There is absolutely no doubt that Hooper has delivered above and beyond on the visuals right down to the wings of a moth fluttering on an iron gate in one dusky scene.
And there is no denying that Hooper has put together a stunning cast to match up to the visuals with both Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe ideal to give their parts the testosterone which gives both characters a sense of chest puffed out power. But then you have humour thanks to the likes of Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen. And then on top of that you have both youth and beauty in the form of Amanda Seyfried and Eddie Redmayne although both are blown off of the screen by Samantha Barks who not only looks the part but her voice is spellbinding.
And that brings me to what didn't work for me and that is around three quarters of the musical numbers in "Les Mis├ęrables". Now I have never seen the stage version of "Les Mis├ęrables" and whilst I know the story from having watched other movie versions I only really knew the more famous musical numbers before watching this. But that means there are some musical numbers which were new to me and to be blunt didn't sound right with some actors fairing better than others. In fact I can simply say that for most of the first 90 minutes many of the musical elements felt forced but then in the final 60 minutes everyone seemed to find their singing voices or at least had songs which fitted their voices better.
What this all boils down to is that is "Les Mis├ęrables" is a musical which grows and goes from feeling forced musically to being a true spectacle which gets the blood and emotion flowing. If only the first 90 minutes could have been as well tuned as the final 60 it would have been as close to perfect as you can get. The thing is that whilst I have issues with "Les Mis├ęrables" I would definitely watch it again as it is that impressive in places.