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Les Misérables: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly…

Posted December 27th, 2012 by jallen

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Even though it is social(media) suicide to “blaspheme” anything bearing the title “Les Misérables” I must resist the peer pressure to gravel grovel at the feet of this movie.
It seems that with most fans of Les Mis, they would let you crap on a baguette, call it “Les Misérables” and they would eat it gladly as if it was an Hors d’oeuvre served at a $12,000 a plate fund raising event to “stop” global warming.

Although I did not hate the movie by any means, I didn’t love it, so now I must defend my reasons…

The Good:

Anne Hathaway (Fantine) – After seeing this, I can only conclude that she is the most talented actor/musician in the whole cast – she did it all well in this film and if anyone deserves accolades from this film it is her. I didn’t think I would, but the more I listen to it, the more I think that her spin on “I Dreamed a Dream” is the best I’ve heard.

Hugh Jackman (Jean Valjean) – He is in “the good”, yes, but below he is also in “the Bad” Category as well. As far as strengths of the movie, his acting is amazing, that is about all I can say about the good with regards to him…

Isabella Allen (Young Cosette) – Her version of “Castle on A Cloud” is perfect, she was cast well for the part!

Sacha Baron Cohen (Thénardier) – Another perfect casting for the part and he was the needed humor to get me through the film. Also, he was the only one that attempted to do a French accent (for part of the movie at least)

Still of Helena Bonham Carter, Sacha Baron Cohen and Isabelle Allen in Les Misérables

Photo by Laurie Sparham – © 2012 – Universal Pictures

Eddie Redmayne (Marius) – I didn’t think he was the very best, but he did well. He was also able to carry a tune pretty well. He struggled a bit on “Empty Chairs At Empty Tables” specifically on the lower parts of the song, but with that being said, it was this song and scene in the movie that stole the show! Closely followed by Anne’s “I Dreamed a Dream” this was the most powerful piece.

Samantha Barks (Éponine) – She did well and could sing. Not much more really to say – Good casting choice.

Colm Wilkinson (The Bishop) – Great to see that tribute was given to the original London cast Jean Valjean.

The Bad:

Hugh Jackman (Jean Valjean) – I really struggled with his vocals the whole movie, sometimes he did well and it fit with how he was acting the scene, but on other parts where the song is supposed to be strong, he simply lacked the vocal chops to give Jean Valjean justice. Specifically; he had way too much of an old man’s vibrato, and he really struggled with the soft high notes – who am I kidding, there was no such thing as soft high notes, he yelled anything that was high and out of his range and just added the old man’s vibrato to mask the yelling as “singing” – His singing was bad, but not bad enough to land him in “the Ugly” category as some others have been banished to. I will not bother with adding the link to his song because I don’t want to taint anymore what should sound like this:

Everyone (Yes Everyone) – I know this is a simple nit-picky thing, but it drives me nuts that this is a movie that takes place in France, yet everyone is speaking English;
I am okay with the English part as it would be terrible to have to sit through a bunch of subtitles for this movie, but the thing that bugs me is that all these”French people” are speaking English with British accents. Is the British accent the universal accent to imply “Foreign Country?”
Kudos to Sacha Baron Cohen for actually trying his part with a French accent for some of the movie, but even he eventually goes back to the British accent.

The Ugly:

Russell Crowe (Javert) – Well… Russell was simply terrible. I tried so hard to like his adaptation of Javert, but every time he was on screen I immediately began thinking to myself:
“Self, here is Russell Crowe trying to be Javert”
when I should have been thinking to myself:
“Self, Javert is one driven and dedicated dude.”
Just about everyone in this movie had some sort of skill with combining acting and singing, but it seemed that Russell was concentrating so hard on actually hitting the notes, that he threw all acting out the window.
Finally at the end when he jumps to his death, I was so detached from his character and supposed character emotions that I was confused why this Javert would kill himself.

Helena Bonham Carter (Mademe Thénardier) – Really all I have to say about this one is: “ENOUGH OF HELENA BONHAM CARTER!

Amanda Seyfried (Cosette) – Wow her voice drove me absolutely insane! It instantly reminded me of two things and every time I heard her, instead of Cosette’s songs, I heard these songs:

The Takeaway:

There was definitely much to be impressed by this movie, but for me the things that bugged me were just to too big for me to ignore while I tried to enjoy the rest of the good stuff.
Ultimately, I am glad I saw the movie, but I don’t see any reason why I would ever see it again, which is why I say:

Les Misérables = Meh…

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8 Responses to “Les Misérables: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly…”

  1. Megan

    Interesting take. It seems like I’m the only one who was alright with Russell. He obviously isn’t a singer, but I still liked it. While no one nailed every single note, I liked the way that made it more real…

  2. Connor

    The thing is Russell Crowe is a singer, has been for a very long time. He has sung in a band longer than he has acted, he just isn’t a broadway singer. He never sounded bad in the movie, just not what people expected

  3. Karyn

    Actually this was a very positive review coming from you, broher. A fair criticism. I actually thought Russell crow did well but I could have done with a few less of the super close shots of everyone’s faces. Just back up two inches please. I know it’s “artistic” but it was overdone.

  4. Morgan

    Dugan and I both agree with everything you posted. It was good for us, but not amazing. We agree with each character you put in each category. My favorite part during the movie was the sound effects of Javert hitting the water, meanwhile Dugan busted out laughing in the silent theater.. Don’t get me wrong, that crash was a little too much. My favorite character had to be Enjolras, Marius’ friend. I thought he had one of the best voices in the movie, for such a little part.

  5. Craig

    Spot on, my good man. So many of my associates and friends have raved about this film… but I was more than disspointed. Many claimed that they loved the “raw emotion” and “new take” that Hooper was going for. I disagree. This is Les Mis, my friends. If you don’t have a powerful cast of singers, then you’ve already lost me. The cinematography and scenery was fantastic, but having a Valjean that can’t hit high notes with beauty and grace– downright dissapointing. I loved Eponine, Marius, Enjolras, Fantine, and the Bishop. Either than that, not too impressed. Sadly, I was letdown on many levels. I had to listen to Alfie Boe and Colm Wilkinson’s versions the day after to restore my love for such a classic musical.

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