Friday, December 28, 2012
I'm sure I will write a full bloggy review of this later, what with my insane love of the original show, but this condensed version will just focus on a few things.
There are a few things this movie does brilliantly - it has *wonderful* visuals, particularly the breathtaking images during "Stars" and the gritty ugliness of the scenes with the poor. Anne Hathaway is superb in her role as Fantine, and Eddie Redmayne turns out to be one of the most gripping Mariuses (...Marii?) I have ever seen. Broadway pros Samantha Barks and Aaron Tveit do a marvelous job, as expected.
This movie is sadly lacking in the good singing department. Aside from the abovementioned four and Hugh Jackman (although his version of "Bring Him Home" is almost painful to listen to at times), nobody else manages to shine, not even the chorus members, who certainly have no reason to be anything less than adequate. It's not like they had to cast non-singing big name stars like they did for, oh, let's say, JAVERT. Russell Crowe has now joined Gerard Butler in my chamber of Movie Musical Nemeses. He completely murdered one of my all-time favorite showtunes and somehow made one of my favorite theatrical characters boring.
On top of all this, the group numbers are weirdly lacking in energy. "One Day More" is the worst offender. It's one of the most powerful moments on stage and one of the most lackluster ones on screen, as the big screen necessarily separates the characters out into their physically different locations. Say what you will about musical theater, there's something incredible about a whole group of people standing on stage together singing the same song. It doesn't have nearly the same effect when you see a close-up of one person with a bunch of other people singing in the background.
While this movie does have some stunningly beautiful moments, it's actually a pretty mediocre adaptation of the musical. If you liked the story, pick up a copy of the tenth (or twenty-fifth) anniversary cast recording instead and enjoy the show as it was meant to be sung. 3 stars.
Flickchart: #679, below The Hunt For Red October and above Away From Her.