I used to go out to the movies all the time, but now that I have young kids, it's really tough to do so. This has been more of an annoyance than a problem for the past few years because frankly, there haven't been that many movies I've wanted to see. Last year was different. There were a bunch that actually looked good, especially late in the year but I missed them. Anyway, this is a long way of saying that I finally upgraded the Netflix account to have them send me DVD's. Which means that movie reviews are a'coming.
For years I wondered why it was taking so long to make a movie musical version of 'Les Mis'. It's been popular forever. It's epic in a way that translates well to the big screen. And my guess has been that various rights have kept from being produced. (And that might even be true!)
I was excited when I saw the first trailers last fall. Then the reviews came out and they were lack-luster. I chalked some of that up to that perverse human desire to trash popular things. In any case, I missed it in the theater and was excited to finally watch it. This was literally the first thing that went into my Netflix queue.
And wow, was I disappointed.
The singing is awful. Not all of it, but some of the key parts are just wildly miscast. Russell Crowe (who has been great in just about everything else I've seen him in) is simply terrible. He looks good and can't sing a lick. I've got to believe that there are at least 1000 actors out there who would have made a better Javert.
Hugh Jackman is better, but still fails on some pretty important levels. He can sing, and his singing doesn't offend the way that Crowe does. The problem is that he's all anguish and very little beauty. In fact, that's the problem with most of this movie.
In most musicals, we accept that people break into song to express themselves. We accept that the singers are above average so that they can make the most of the music that they've been given. Not so here. In this movie, if there was any kind of choice between showing anguish and showing musical talent, the talent lost big time.
This works in places. Anne Hathaway is quite good as Fantine. The Thenardiers don't call for beauty, they call for character and their parts worked. But just about everywhere else it failed.
Just a huge disappointment.