Blu-ray Review "Les Misérables"

Actors: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Sacha Baron Cohen
Directors: Tom Hooper
Rated: PG-13 (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Studio: Universal Studios
Release Date: March 22, 2013
Run Time: 157 minutes

Film: 3.5 out of 5 stars
Extras: 3 out of 5 stars

Broadway shows being made into movies are kinda hit or miss. I was a fan of “Rent” but it was not well-received. Same goes for “The Phantom of the Opera”, also not well-received. “Chicago” was a very bit hit and was even revisited this year at the Oscars. “Les Misérables” is another film adaption of the long-running Broadway stage show, this one is a musical though unlike the 1998 version with Liam Neeson. In so many words, I do love the film but I also have some problems with it. Still though, I feel that the good outweighs the negative and I highly recommend giving it a chance. If you are expecting a mirror image of the stage show then you will most likely be disappointed. If you are open-minded then you should enjoy this quite a bit.

Here are some of the aspects that I loved in this film. Firstly, it has to be Russell Crowe. I know this is most people’s aspect that they disliked but I was just blown away. I thought he really was powerful and his voice really delivered. He is quite different then his character from the stage show and I appreciated that. The next one is a bit obvious and is Anne Hathaway’s perfect one take performance of “I Dreamed a Dream”. Lastly, I would also like to commend the live singing on the set. I think this really worked for the film. Some aspects that I was not a fan of was Tom Hooper’s shaky cam approach. Even though it was trying to be more raw like the singing, it didn’t work for me. Another major dislike is Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter. I wish I could watch a version of the film without them completely.

Official Premise: Hugh Jackman, Academy Award® winner Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway star in this critically acclaimed adaptation of the epic musical phenomenon. Set against the backdrop of 19th-century France, Les Misérables tells the story of ex-prisoner Jean Valjean (Jackman), hunted for decades by the ruthless policeman Javert (Crowe), after he breaks parole. When Valjean agrees to care for factory worker Fantine’s (Hathaway) young daughter, Cosette, their lives change forever.

Whether the film is good or not, Universal delivered a fantastic Blu-ray high-def presentation. They deliver the film with their typical combo pack with Blu-ray + DVD + Ultraviolet Digital Copy. The 1080p transfer looks very clear within it’s 1.85:1 aspect ration, while still keeping the gritty look that Tom Hooper and cinematographer Danny Cohen were going for. The real star of the show though is the DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 track. This really works perfectly with the film’s score and the music. The film is 99% singing and it is well-represented here for sure.

The special features included on this release are good but lacking a bit. There is an audio commentary by Director Tom Hooper. It is very in-depth and interesting. If you enjoyed the film and looking a decent inside look I would check it out. “Les Misérables: A Revolutionary Approach” is an hour long multi-part featurette, which goes in-depth into the production. The featurettes included are “The Stars of Les Misérables”, “The West End Connection, “Les Misérables on Location”, “Creating the Perfect Paris”, “Battle at the Barricade” and “Les Misérables Singing Live”, also which my favorite. “The Original Masterwork: Victor Hugo’s Les Misérables” is a decent but short look taking Victor Hugo’s novel to the screen.

CD Review "Les Misérables: Highlights From The Motion Picture Soundtrack"

“Les Misérables”
Highlights From The Motion Picture Soundtrack
Release Date: December 21, 2012
Label: Universal
Total Length: 1:05:22

Our Score: 3 out of 5 stars

Here is the issue with album is right in the title: “Les Misérables: Highlights From The Motion Picture Soundtrack”. Highlights is main issue here.  It is really missing just way to much from this film. I actually really liked this film and literally it is 2 hours and 40 minutes of non-stop music performances. This album delivers a very abridged version of it just running over an hour. I feel like we are loosing way too much in this very trimmed version. I mean there are 49 musical numbers in the film and only 20 tracks are available here.  I am sure this album with be a hit like the film itself nonetheless just getting a chance to own “some” of the music but for me…it is just not enough. If are a die-hard fan of the Original Broadway Cast Recording, then be warned this is quite different.  You are either going to love it completely or hate it.

Right from the start with “Look Down”, it is such an epic and amazing track in the film that is cut down to barely even a proper song.  It starts and ends so abrupt that it almost hurts to hear. I have to say though, the best part of this entire soundtrack is Russell Crowe.  That’s right Russell Crowe.  He is the saving factor for this entire soundtrack if not the entire movie.  Anne Hathaway is quite amazing and her version of “I Dreamed a Dream” (with no camera cuts in the film) is nothing short of heart-breaking and stunning.  I love Hugh Jackman and I have seen him on Broadway a few times, so we now the guy can sing.  I know that the director Tom Hopper wanted to make this raw and real but Jackman’s tracks don’t sit right with me.  Maybe his voice isn’t strong enough to hit some notes on these songs.  I feel that he aims to talk his way through some of the lyrics – some not all “Valjean’s Soliloquy” is a great track.

If you are a fan of this film, you will enjoy hearing a few tracks.  Me personally, like I said I have about six songs in a playlist and have been revisiting those over and over.  Since I figure that there are tons are track already missing…so what is the difference.  Most importantly, I want to throw in where the hell is “Do You Hear the People Sing”. How can that song be left out? Wow! Probably the biggest let down of this whole release. No joke, this album only received 3 out of 5 stars due to the fact that Russell Crowe kicks major ass!! You listen to his version of “Stars” and “Javert’s Suicide” and tell me that his voice doesn’t rule.  It is fierce and strong.  I wish the rest of the album turned out like that. I will hold my breath for the complete soundtrack being released.

Track Listing:
1. Look Down – Hugh Jackman
2. The Bishop – Colm Wilkinson
3. Valjean’s Soliloquy – Hugh Jackman
4. At The End Of The Day – Hugh Jackman
5. I Dreamed A Dream – Anne Hathaway
6. The Confrontation – Hugh Jackman
7. Castle On A Cloud – Isabelle Allen
8. Master Of The House – Sacha Baron Cohen
9. Suddenly – Hugh Jackman
10. Stars – Russell Crowe
11. ABC Cafe / Red And Black – Eddie Redmayne
12. In My Life / A Heart Full Of Love – Amanda Seyfried
13. On My Own – Samantha Barks
14. One Day More – Les Misérables Cast
15. Drink With Me – Eddie Redmayne
16. Bring Him Home – Hugh Jackman
17. The Final Battle – Les Misérables Cast
18. Javert’s Suicide – Russell Crowe
19. Empty Chairs At Empty Tables – Eddie Redmayne
20. Epilogue – Les Misérables Cast

Film Review “Les Misérables”

Starring: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway
Directed by: Tom Hooper
Rated: PG 13
Running time: 2 hours 40 mins

Our Score: 5 out of 5 stars

EPIC! That is the word that jumped into my mind less than a minute into “Les Misérables.” Just the opening shot of prison constable Javert (Crowe) looking down on his charge of prisoners gave me a chill that would last for almost three hours. As I write this in early December I feel safe in declaring it the best film of the year!

Based on the musical that took the world by storm, “Les Misérables” is the story of two men, both on missions, both looking to serve God in their own way. The first is Javert, in charge of the men serving hard labor. Among his charges is prisoner 24601, also known as Jean Valjean (Jackman). He has served 19 years at hard labor for the crime of stealing a loaf of bread to feed his hungry nephew. Today he is being paroled, but his freedom will not be long. He must now consign himself to the Navy. Deciding to break parole he stumbles out into the cold night only to be taken in by a kindly Bishop, who gives him food and a bed. But the criminal in Valjean still exists and he makes off with most of the church’s silver. Caught by the police he is brought back to the Bishop, who informs the police that he did, in fact, give him the silver. Shamed by his actions Valjean swears to dedicate his life to God.

Eight years later we meet Mr. Madeleine, a wealthy factory owner and Mayor of a small town. His factory employs many young women, one of them the beautiful Fantine (Hathaway), who is working to support her daughter. The other women are jealous of her virtuous ways and encourage the randy shop foreman to harass her. When she refuses his advances she is fired and though she pleads with Mr. Madeleine it is no use. Destitute and with no one seemingly in her corner she slowly dissolves into a horrible life…selling anything she can, be it her hair, her teeth or her virtue to support her daughter. As this story is unfolding a new visitor comes to town, police inspector Javert. He finds Mr. Madeleine’s face most familiar. Could it be prisoner 24601?

As someone that was lucky enough to see “Les Miz” during its original Broadway run I can attest to all fans that director Tom Hooper and company have created a masterpiece of a production here. From the contrasting colors of the dreary towns and the brightness of the flags flown in protest to the across the board outstanding performances, “Les Misérables” will surely take its place among the greatest musical adaptations ever made.

Both leads give award worthy performances. If you have any knowledge of popular culture then you already know Jackman can sing but how many of you knew Russell Crowe could carry a tune? To be honest I did because he fronts his own band (30 Odd Foot of Grunts). Both play men with similar a similar fate and destiny, knowing that without the other their lives are empty. Javert lives only to capture Valjean, while Valjean lives only to keep one step ahead. As the doomed Fantine Hathaway gives a heartbreaking performance. Go ahead and put her name down in pen on your Oscar ballot this year. She is brilliant. Also lending their voices to the story are Amanda Seyfried as Cosette (Fantine’s daughter, now grown up), Samantha Barks as Eponine and Eddie Redmayne as Marius, the young man both girls love. Also around to lighten the mood are Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter as Mr. and Mrs. Thenardier, proprietors of the worse hotel in town. And how great is it to see Colm Wilkinson, the original London and Broadway stage Jean Valjean, duet with Jackman as the kindly Bishop?

Director Hooper has managed to take the stage bound musical and open it up for the big screen, yet still making the performances intimate. This is done mostly by filming the actors in close up as they sing. Also, in a brilliant move, all of the singing was recorded “live.” With piano tracks playing in an earpiece (the fully orchestrated score was later added in post production) the actors performed as if on stage. This caused the actors to not only act but sing at the same time, giving an emotional lift that may not have been achieved had they been lip-synching. The production values are outstanding and I look for the film to clean up in the various technical categories come Academy Award time.

Complimentary Passes to the Orlando, FL Advance Screening for “Les Misérables” [ENDED]


© 2012 Universal

If you would like to enter for a chance to win tickets to the following advance screening, please leave a comment below with your favorite song from “Les Misérables”. Winners will be chosen on a RANDOM BASIS on December 14th. ONLY ONE ENTRY PER PERSON PLEASE! OTHERWISE ALL ENTRIES WILL BE DISREGARDED. The winners will be will notified then via email and will be instructed how to pick up the tickets. Good luck and hope to see if you at the screening!

Tuesday, December 18th at 7:00pm.
AMC Altamonte 18 – Altamonte Springs, FL
Passes are limited and are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

Les Misérables – in theaters December 25th

Official Site:
Twitter: #LesMis

Genre: Musical epic
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Aaron Tveit, Samantha Barks, with Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen
Directed by: Tom Hooper
Based on the Stage Musical: Boublil and Schönberg’s Les Misérables from the novel by Victor Hugo
Screenplay by: William Nicholson, Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg, Herbert Kretzmer
Music by: Claude-Michel Schönberg
Lyrics by: Herbert Kretzmer
Produced by: Tim Bevan, Eric Fellner, Debra Hayward, Cameron Mackintosh
Executive Producers: Liza Chasin, Angela Morrison

Les Misérables is the motion-picture adaptation of the beloved global stage sensation seen by more than 60 million people in 42 countries and in 21 languages around the globe and still breaking box-office records everywhere in its 27th year. Helmed by The King’s Speech’s Academy Award®-winning director, Tom Hooper, the Working Title/Cameron Mackintosh production stars Hugh Jackman, Oscar® winner Russell Crowe, Anne Hathaway, Amanda Seyfried, Eddie Redmayne, Aaron Tveit, Samantha Barks, with Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen.

Set against the backdrop of 19th-century France, Les Misérables tells an enthralling story of broken dreams and unrequited love, passion, sacrifice and redemption—a timeless testament to the survival of the human spirit. Jackman plays ex-prisoner Jean Valjean, hunted for decades by the ruthless policeman Javert (Crowe) after he breaks parole. When Valjean agrees to care for factory worker Fantine’s (Hathaway) young daughter, Cosette, their lives change forever.

In December 2012, the world’s longest-running musical brings its power to the big screen in Tom Hooper’s sweeping and spectacular interpretation of Victor Hugo’s epic tale. With international superstars and beloved songs—including “I Dreamed a Dream,” “Bring Him Home,” “One Day More” and “On My Own”—Les Misérables, the show of shows, is now reborn as the cinematic musical experience of a lifetime.