I was very excited to see Les Miserables, as it was my all-time favorite Broadway show ... saw it three times.
No doubt, the most powerful musical ever. Remember taking my German colleagues to the show in 1986 (pre-Prowns days, when I was a corporate big wig). Knew nothing about the show, but my national sales manager counterpart said it was a MUST GO.
Within 10 minutes of the start of the show, I knew I was seeing show unlike any other with the most powerful, emotional songs ever to hit Broadway.
Needless to say, I have the soundtrack which I listen to often. So at the end of the day, the success or failure of the film version wasn't going to based on the sets or the star power, it was all about singing talent.
This where the movie falls short. Russell Crowe, Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway can sing okay (some better than others), but simply no way have the pipes to carry the emotion Les Mis songs demand. In fact, the much lesser known actors in this film, like those who play Marius and Eponine (Eddie Redmayne & Samantha Banks), have more interesting voices and seem to have higher level of singing prowess.
Now I saw this film in a Red Bank theater, which has a very, very small screen. Does it play better and more powerful and engaging on a larger screen? Maybe ... I don't think so. I think first-time Les Mis viewers will like this film, but groupies like me really won't. It just doesn't match up to the live so (sort of like folks who read the book first and see the movie years later ... the latter just can't hold a candle.
Last thought: the final 5 to 10 minutes were amazingly emotional. Tons of tears and sniffling in the audience. I haven't heard that much crying since the final scene in the Titanic. I think that speaks of the connection of the movie to the audience, so maybe I'm in the minority on this one.
I'm going to be most interested to hear the thoughts of my fellow movie groupies