Les Misérables takes an eye-popping $18.1 million

Universal Pictures

Director Tom Hooper’s film adaptation of the hit Broadway musical, with a massive A-list cast Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway and Russell Crowe have all assembled for the cinematic adaptation. While in the other side of the world they have to wait until January 16 to watch Les Miz, American critics already have much to say about Tom Hooper’s direction and the performances of the A-list stars that lent their talents to the film.

“Les Misérables” seems like a safe bet for success.

Garnering the most praise and criticism was Hooper’s decision to record the actors’ singing live instead of pre-recording and then having them lip-synch. General applause was given for the performances of Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway but opinion was divided for the rest of the cast.

On Rotten Tomatoes, a film review aggregator, the film scores 72% for All Critics but drops to 63% for Top Critics. It also states that 86% of audiences like the film.

and triumphant moments. Before he was Wolverine, Hugh Jackman was singing

and dancing in “Oklahoma!,” which earned him an Olivier Award for Best Actor in a Musical. The Tony Award winner, who later showed off his moves hosting the Oscars, stars in “Les Mis” as ex-prisoner Jean Valjean, hunted and on the run. Film critic Richard Roeper called it “an unforgettable

Hooper does something clever in asking his actors to sing live on camera, rather than having them record their vocals in a booth somewhere as is the norm, and for shooting the big numbers in single takes.

 

Thumbs up

USA Today’s Claudia Puig:

Los Angeles Times’ Kenneth Turan:
“Because it is so shameless and so popular, Les Misérables and its ‘to love another person is to see the face of God’ theme are tailor-made

Universal Pictures

Universal Pictures

for mockery. But despite its pitfalls, this movie musical is a clutch player that delivers an emotional wallop when it counts. You can walk into the theater as an agnostic, but you may just leave singing with the choir.”
Rolling Stone’s Peter Travers:
“What helps make Les Misérables so vibrant and thrilling onscreen is Hooper’s daring decision to have his actors sing live. No mouthing the words to prerecorded songs. The actors wore earpieces to hear a piano give them tempo. A 70-piece orchestra was added later to bring out the beauty and thunder in the score, by Claude-Michel Schonberg, Alain Boublil and Herbert Kretzmer. The risk pays off. The singing isn’t slick. It sometimes sounds raw and roughed up, which is all to the good. It sure as hell brings out the best in the actors. A never-better Hugh Jackman stars as Jean Valjean, locked up for nearly 20 years for stealing a loaf of bread. The convict known as 24601 escapes and makes a respectable life for himself as a small-town mayor. But he can’t rest. Hunted relentlessly by the policeman Javert (Russell Crowe), Valjean is almost caught again when he tries to help poor, doomed Fantine (Anne Hathaway), a factory girl who sells her hair, her teeth and her body to support her child, Cosette. A dynamite Hathaway shatters every heart when she sings how ‘life has killed the dream I dreamed.’ Her volcanic performance has Oscar written all over it.”

 

Thumbs down

Time’s Richard Corliss:

New York Times’ Manohla Dargis:

“As he showed in The King’s Speech and in the television series John Adams, Mr. Hooper can be very good with actors. But his inability to leave any lily ungilded — to direct a scene without tilting or hurtling or throwing the camera around — is bludgeoning and deadly. By the grand finale, when tout le monde is waving the French tricolor in victory, you may instead be raising the white flag in exhausted defeat.”

Universal Pictures

The Hollywood Reporter’s Todd McCarthy:

“Director Tom Hooper has turned the theatrical extravaganza into something that is far less about the rigors of existence in early 19th century France than it is about actors emoting mightily and singing their guts out. As the enduring success of this property has shown, there are large, emotionally susceptible segments of the population ready to swallow this sort of thing, but that doesn’t mean it’s good… Although not terrible, the music soon begins to slur together to the point where you’d be willing to pay the ticket price all over again just to hear a nice, pithy dialogue exchange between Hugh Jackman and Russell Crowe rather than another noble song that sounds a lot like one you just heard a few minutes earlier. There were 49 identifiable musical numbers in the original show, and one more has been added here.”

Chicago Tribune’s Michael Phillips:

“I didn’t like it. Why? There’s no genre I cherish more than film musicals. Hugh Jackman (who plays, sings, mutters and roars his way through the role of saintly Jean Valjean) has the stuff, the training, the voice and ability to express 101 percent of what’s needed in a fervent close-up. Anne Hathaway, a fairly sure bet for a supporting actress Oscar as Fantine, grabs ahold of her big song ‘I Dreamed a Dream’ like someone with an Oscar to win. Russell Crowe’s voice may be wrong for Inspector Javert — he spends most of the score straining in his upper register, while sounding like an amalgam of all four Beatles — but already he’s taking the rap for single-handedly dragging “Les Miz” down, which is silly. The movie drags itself down.” – Rappler.com

One Response to Les Misérables takes an eye-popping $18.1 million

  1. jepressman December 28, 2012 at 11:35 am

    The negative critical reviews are wrong and wrong again. Hooper succeeds admirably, the close-ups work well, creating a more intimate and compelling experience. This is a movie a different story -telling environment, no need to shoot the film like a stage presentation.Crowe sounds fine and gives an excellent performance, the no-Crowe crowd are reaching for an excuse to not like this film.So many of these critics were pre-disposed to not like Hooper’s film ,well they are wrong. Remember that critics judgement is often off.

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