Last week, I went to see both Les Misérables and The Hobbit. I've been meaning and wanting to see them since they came out in December but my severe upper respiratory infection had other ideas. So I know these reviews are very late but I'm posting them anyway. And I will include spoilers so please consider yourselves warned.
At the risk of having rotten vegetables thrown at me, I didn't swoon over Hugh Jackman's performance. I'm dismayed that he won a Golden Globe and really hope he doesn't win an Oscar (but I'm pretty sure it'll go to Daniel Day Lewis anyway). I didn't hate Hugh's performance— I really didn't— but neither did it really move me. Jean Valjean has some big sweeping emotional songs and I thought Hugh was competent but not swoon-worthy. Give me Colm Wilkinson (who, coincidentaly played the part of the Bishop in the film) or Gary Morris anyday. Here's a clip of Colm Wilkinson brilliantly singing "Bring Him Home":
Anne Hathaway was swoon-worthy. (Side note: when I say 'swoon-worthy' here, I don't mean in a Stephen Amell with his shirt off kind of way. I mean in a punch-you-in-the-gut emotional kind of way. I want to be swept away in the song. I want to be awash in emotion. And if an artist can so move me, then it is swoon-worthy.) Her rendition of "I Dreamed A Dream" actually elicited tears from me. Lovely. And I shall worship at the alter of the divine Samantha Barks (Eponine) for all of eternity. Eponine has long been my favorite Les Mis character and performing that role is one of my secret life goals (well, not so secret now, I guess). Samantha Barks was glorious.
Sasha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter were great as the Thénardiers. "Master of the House" is such a fun song and I love to sing it, as everyone in the theater found out. I was sad that "Dog Eat Dog" was cut from the movie. Speaking of cut songs, I was dismayed to find that "Turning" had not been included in its entirety. That is such a pretty song and I wish it all had been included. And not just because I was still singing it when the movie had moved on to the next scene. Amanda Seyfried was fine as Cosette. Didn't really care one way or another because after "Castle In A Cloud", I kind of lose interest in the Cosette character. Not her fault. She was written that way. Marius was fine. Nice, I guess. His song "Empty Chairs At Empty Tables" is one of my favorites and I thought he performed it well but I found his hair to be very distracting. I was especially impressed by how well his hair gel held up. Don't get me wrong... you're involved in the battle at the barricade, you're gonna want something with hold. (Name! That! Reference!
The kid who played Gavroche (Daniel Huttlestone) was freaking adorable and awesome and I even though I knew it was coming, I got emotional when he died. Bravo, little Gavroche, you're the top of the class.
"One Day More" was brilliant except for one thing (more on that in a minute) and "Do You Hear The People Sing" made me actually want to jump up and down with excitement.
And then there was Javert (Russell Crowe). Javert did not make me want to jump up and down with excitement. Quite the opposite. At the risk of him tracking me down and beating the hell out of me, I did not enjoy Russell Crowe's performance. From the the very first note that escaped from his throat, I knew I wasn't going to like it. Maybe I've been spoiled by my beloved Broadway recordings that I've been listening to for longer than I care to admit, but I don't think he had the voice needed for this role. Javert's songs— in particular "Stars" and "Javert's Suicide"— are so freaking powerful and solid and need someone with a powerful, commanding voice to deliver them. Like so:
And Russell Crowe's voice was far too thin and weak. Please don't track me down and kick my ass, Russell. I think if it was a non-musical version of Les Mis, you'd be a great choice for Javert. You just kind of suck in the musical version. And by 'kind of', I mean 'a lot'.
So, overall, I liked the film but I did not love it. The miscasting of Russell Crowe has just really gotten under my skin. I didn't buy the soundtrack (Seriously, how do you NOT include "Do You Hear The People Sing" on a Les Mis highlights album??) and I won't be buying the movie when that's released on DVD.
That's gonna do it for me today. Be sure to tune in next time to find out if I'll be this cranky about The Hobbit...