Escape to the Movies: Les Miserables

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Wait, Bob, you're telling me you didn't go see Texas Chainsaw 3D? Why, I'm shocked... shocked, I tell you, at your lack of journalistic integrity! How can you ignore such a guaranteed seminal work of the highest art in favor of some movie version of a Tony Award-winning musical based on an old book that snobs worship? That's so much worse in the remake department than anything Platinum Dunes pumps out for a quick buck. I don't care if Lionsgate refused to show it to critics to fool the plebs into seeing it, you should be ashamed for denying us the most important review of the year!

As a film, I can maybe see some of these criticisms. But the reason it "is good" and "will be seen by people" is because it's Les Frackin' Mis. Bear in mind (and the posted youtubes attest to this) that their idea of an anniversary reunion is to get the original Broadway cast and/or some dream cast of portrayals, forego the stage play altogether, and just have them stand there at the mics and sing the songs in costume. THAT'S IT. And the Les Mis people (like my wife) just LAP THAT STUFF UP.

These people will not care how the movie is staged. If the actors pull off the songs, it's "shut up and take my money" time.

Speaking of which, no way was Russell Crowe as uncomfortable wearing those costumes as we were listening to him try and sing Javert.

DVS BSTrD:

Andrew Siribohdi:
But I thought Russell Crowe was miscast as Javert.

If anything he should be the one to play Jean Valjean.

Not really, no. In a musical of this caliber, at best he should have been cast as the key grip. Definitely not Valjean; he was already in his "head voice" trying to sing a baritone part, and Valjean is a tenor role.

Leximodicon:
First video I've seen in 9 months on this site without a WoW: Pandaria ad. Thank God.

Or Dishonored. I see dogs attacking my arm and myself throwing some bourgeois on the floor in my sleep now, all to the tune of some 10yo Other-Cultured girl singing nonsense.

Frybird:

...I don't like the notion of "I don't like musicals" though, because i very much think to hate Musicals in General you either gotta hate Singing or Movies.

I like sex and I like social gatherings.

Doesn't mean I have to like orgies.

Well, it looks like my prediction a couple of weeks back has been confirmed, not that I was expecting Bob to like this sort of movie anyway. It's not actually out in the UK yet but I'll be off to see it as soon as it finally rolls around here.

I'm glad Bob had a bunch of qualifiers this time around. And I TOTALLY get why he doesn't like the movie. I still enjoyed it, even though it did have it's fair share of problems. I honestly think that this movie is STILL all about Jean Valjean, even WHEN Marius comes into play. I couldn't care less about the romance, but I DO care about seeing Marius live so that Jean can have him and Cosette together so that Cosette doesn't have to constantly be on the run with Jean. It's all part of Jean's redemption, and I totally buy it. I don't get why Bob was so bored by the whole thing, though... I was pretty entertained... by the songs anyway... And the songs that WEREN'T just the camera starting at the actor's head while they sing their heart out. Yeah, that's a big selling point of this movie, and it totally doesn't work... That's something both Bob and I can agree on. Also, Russell Crowe sucks as Javert... surprised Bob mentioned nothing about him... Except at the end, where he mentioned he "looked uncomfortable. [...] Like 'in a bunny suit' uncomfortable". That would make sense, seeing as it felt like he was half-assing it throughout the movie.

who said they will stop making x-men movies?

I'm sorry, but the unstable accent is really distracting. I like the standard voice, but it's getting to the point that it would be better just to stick to the natural accent.

Frybird:

Mr.Tea:
I'm already biased since I fucking hate... nah, what's stronger than hate? Oh, I megaloathe musicals. But seriously, why couldn't they make a real movie with this?

Because they already did...like...a bunch of times. Hell, there are even Anime Adaptions. You can pretty much pick by country and length.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adaptations_of_Les_Mis%C3%A9rables

I will say that one should avoid the Liam Neeson version as it pretty much becomes a train wreck the farther along it goes. Among other things it involves Javert holding a gun to Cosettes head and Valjean seeing Javert commit suicide(by walking into the Seine...from the riverbank) and then walking off with a big-ass grin on his face.

A film adaptation of the book might have been interesting to me. Kind of a cool time period and perhaps a really bright writer could adapt the film to something fitting modern taste. But a film adaptation of a Broadway musical just isn't my thing. About the only musical I can stand is Rocky Horror even if musicals are an important part of film history.

The film just feels too much like a money grab than something Hollywood did as art.

Mr.Tea:
I'm already biased since I fucking hate... nah, what's stronger than hate? Oh, I megaloathe musicals. But seriously, why couldn't they make a real movie with this?

And then it had to star Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman... I don't think they could have made this film less appealing to me.

Edit: OH! And then there's having to listen to anglophones keep pronouncing French names... Oh how much better it (and indeed any movie) would have been with Cristoph Waltz.

Well because they already technically did made it into a normal movie. About 12 times before. With the 1998 version having Liam Neeson as Jean Valjean. It was pretty good I thought. Then again that was 12 years ago so I can't say for sure.

Point is, there are superior versions out there.

I just really wish people stop calling Les Misérables "Les Mis" other than that I don't really care about this movie...

I think Bob would have liked the movie more if Zack Snyder directed it and Cosette was dressed like Babydoll from Suckerpunch...

I'm still going to go see it. I'm taking my mum because she loves the musical. (Had to tell her she can't sing along really loudly in the cinema and start telling me everything that's happening).
I've never really had any interest in it but I love this cast list. Hathaway, Jackman and Bonhem Carter are some of my favourite actors so I really want to see it.
This will be the first time I've seen it. It'll be interesting to see what my mum thinks of it because she's seen it about 3 times on stage in London and every DVD version.

Mr.Tea:
I'm already biased since I fucking hate... nah, what's stronger than hate? Oh, I megaloathe musicals. But seriously, why couldn't they make a real movie with this?

And then it had to star Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman... I don't think they could have made this film less appealing to me.

Edit: OH! And then there's having to listen to anglophones keep pronouncing French names... Oh how much better it (and indeed any movie) would have been with Cristoph Waltz.

Because the musical is more popular and there are way more people who really like musicals than not.

OT: That's a shame, was thinking about seeing it. Maybe I'll watch it after its out of theaters.

Captcha: Make haste. No, I don't think I will.

1:43 - 2:30
Dear christ, WHAT! I thought Bob's comic summarys got convoluted.

the only thing I have against this movie when i was watching was I got bored during (though I got bored right around the same time in the book and when i saw it on stage) and it was a slow to get into for me. I liked the start well enough but once they got to anne hathaway I checked out till right around the point where the students are starting to prepare for battle and doing all their meeting stuff.

other than that it was pretty good.

Frybird:

...I don't like the notion of "I don't like musicals" though, because i very much think to hate Musicals in General you either gotta hate Singing or Movies.

I love Little Shop of Horrors, Repo, Once, The Rocky Horror Show, South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut (wich 1: Shut up, it's totally a Musical and 2: Is in many ways a Parody of Les Miserables as much as it is one of Disney Movies), Reefer Madness and Perhaps Love as much as i H A T E Moulin Rouge, Nine, Cats, Rent, Glee, Mamma Mia and Rock of Ages. Even those wich i like oftentimes cannot be more different from one another, so yeah, i think saying something like that seems like a rather uninformed opinion.

Growing up in a town where our main attraction is our children's theater and our high school shows its odd to hear people NOT be obsessed with musicals half the time; when you've grown up seeing and being in pretty much every musical in existence its simply hard to believe someone can't like musicals.

I find it as hard to understand as racism.

Clankenbeard:

Frybird:
...I don't like the notion of "I don't like musicals" though, because i very much think to hate Musicals in General you either gotta hate Singing or Movies.

Musicals are like going to a bar. I never really get the urge to go, but once I get dragged there I have a good time. For me, the music heightens the emotion of the scene and has a tendency to "lock it in". Hearing the song in the future brings back the emotional state of the acted scene pretty easily.

As an old straight dude, this frightens me more than I can say.

Love your avatar by the way! Scary Smash! Joss was a real sport for squatting through that one.

That's the best part of musicals, a good stage actor/singer can convey emotions ten times better through singing than anyone can through voice.

It sends shivers up your spine, in a good way.

Oooh, MovieBob doesn't like a piece centered and adapted from a stage musical, how edgy! What a bold defiance of expectations!

Seriously, Bob? You're complaining that a film adaptation of a musical highlights the songs too much? Do you complain that the beach has too much water? Yes, the film is long, but it's not exactly a short piece to start with. If the intent was to focus on them actually singing their lines, why would they need to putz about with visual flair when all the the flair they need or want is that this is a musical, where the audience wants to see and hear them singing. Cosette and Marius do kind of just fall together, but if you're seriously perturbed that the "true love at first sight" thing happens in a dramatic piece as a plot device to get the characters together in a piece where the romance isn't anywhere near the biggest thing going on, then I would suggest that you're projecting your occasional boorish attitude towards Amanda Seyfried onto a film that doesn't want it. Yeah, I get it, you're a film critic, and you're judging this as a film. Newsflash, bucko, anyone who actually wants to see it isn't going to see it the same way they see other films.

T3hSource:
Your accent slipped out a lot more than usual this time Bob,it's kind of unsettling and creates inconsistency.

EDIT: I'm not saying Bob's accent creeps me out,quite the opposite,I'm saying the quick jumps between his normal speech and broadcasting voice just distract me.

Seems to only happen with movies he feels are really crap. I noticed it too, the more agitated he gets about talking about a bad movie the more the accent slips. Oh well, adds a bit of realism to the review if you ask me. Am suddenly reminded of Ted though.

As for the movie, my mom actually wanted to go see this. I'll have to dissuade her and suggest another, like that new Del Toro horror flick coming out.

Falseprophet:
snip

You still need a good director (and a good script) to make a good movie out of it. Your comparison doesn't even make any sense.

I knew that this version would stink. The only film adaptation of this story I liked was the one that came out in the 90's staring Liam Neeson.

Mr.Tea:
I'm already biased since I fucking hate... nah, what's stronger than hate? Oh, I megaloathe musicals. But seriously, why couldn't they make a real movie with this?

And then it had to star Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman... I don't think they could have made this film less appealing to me.

Edit: OH! And then there's having to listen to anglophones keep pronouncing French names... Oh how much better it (and indeed any movie) would have been with Cristoph Waltz.

While I am in agreement with your statement I couldn't help but enjoy your Dr. Cox (Scrubs) reference. I'm just surprised you didn't drop a Hugh Jackman quote in there beside it.

Also... Why would you cast Hugh Jackman in that role? He's never had the chops to pull off a role as strong as the lead in Les Mis. At least get some kind of European actor to lend a little gravitas to his dialogue.

Dalisclock:

Frybird:

Mr.Tea:
I'm already biased since I fucking hate... nah, what's stronger than hate? Oh, I megaloathe musicals. But seriously, why couldn't they make a real movie with this?

Because they already did...like...a bunch of times. Hell, there are even Anime Adaptions. You can pretty much pick by country and length.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Adaptations_of_Les_Mis%C3%A9rables

I will say that one should avoid the Liam Neeson version as it pretty much becomes a train wreck the farther along it goes. Among other things it involves Javert holding a gun to Cosettes head and Valjean seeing Javert commit suicide(by walking into the Seine...from the riverbank) and then walking off with a big-ass grin on his face.

Odd you say that since I adore the hell out of that version.

Poor fans of musicals. More than fans of most genres, they seem to be stuck in the quagmire of: "You didn't like this musical? Then you clearly hate musicals and therefore I don't have to listen to your criticism of this musical!" That's not a productive argument, people.

MovieBob:
Les Miserables

See if MovieBob thinks that Les Miserables is really that miserable.

Watch Video

To be fair to the work done on this film, I think what we have are a handful of performances that are absolutely masterfully done... just done masterfully in the wrong medium, perhaps. However, there are non-artistic concerns to consider here:

1. These movie adaptations are often intended to restore interest in their properties. It's basically an advertising campaign, in a sense. And there's nothing wrong with that, really.

2. Tons of people have no time, money, or local opportunity to catch these things on stage, and recordings of live performances of the musical are often pretty awful... so much that it's intimidating for people to wade through the bad ones in hopes of catching a good one. This allows those people the opportunity to see the full musical with (for the most part) a great cast.

3. It is entirely possible to praise a work of art in one regard and hate it in another. Consider a song with incredible lyrics but dreadful music (or vice versa). Many of us feel the movie is phenomenal "for what it is," which I know is a phrase you dislike. But there is occasionally a value in engaging a work in its own terms, rather than measuring yards with meter sticks and complaining when things come up short.

Now, critiquing it as a musical movie, I'd have to say:

- Russel Crowe was a complete and total mistake, as he brings no redeeming qualities to the role. He looks, sounds, and performs badly as Javert.

- Samantha Barks plays it safe on the ONE NOTE that every girl dreams of singing on Broadway. That's nigh-unforgivable, even given how great the rest of her performance was.

- The "in yo' face" camera technique, I agree, was a waste of good opportunity. Only Hathaway and Jackman got their mileage out of the extra face time.

- But Jackman was his least expressive during Valjean's most expressive song ("Bring Him Home"). I think Jackman was too worried about the range, and forgot to act there. This stands out only because of how stellar the rest of his work was.

- Hathaway. Fucking. Killed. I've loved that song for years, but I have never cried at it. I bawled this time around. Finally, someone that was willing to make it the ugly, desperate cry it was written to be... but still maintain the beauty and fragility that make it resonate rather than repel. Definitive rendition.

I'm sorry Bob, but this was a badly done review. While I've no doubt the film has a number of faults (and knowing the stage musical that's not a surprise) you're review went straight past all that and instead targeted things that don't seem to deserve its.

First of all, you were reviewing the film as an adaptation of the book instead of an adaptation of the stage play. Considering it was determined 25 years ago that the script is a bad translation from the book (seriously, look up West-End reviews from when it was released) all it did was make you seem either out of touch, a tad stupid or willfully ignorant in an attempt to seem edgy.

Secondly, you complain that in a musical adaptation of a musical they focus on the music and singing. Thats like going to New York and complaining that all the buildings are too big. If you don't like musicals, fine, say so to give viewers fair warning of your bias. Like him or not Tom Hooper made the directorial decision to have the actors sing live altering the songs as they saw fit. Would you cut away during someones emotional monologue?

Thirdly, no matter how much you try, saying something is "Oscar Bait" is not a negative criticism and does not automatically make a part/performance bad and/or irrelevant.

Finally, it wasn't an entertaining review. You've done reviews of bad films in the past that have been funny and you've done ones in the past that are intelligent. This review was just mean. Like the Spiderman review, you appear to have gone in expecting (dare I say wanting) to hate the film and you came out happy.

Edit: Do they pronounce Thenardier in the film like Bob did in the review? If yes, wow that's a shock as the versions I've heard use a hard T. If not, it doesn't help Bob's case.

Edit 2:

iniudan:
Each time you mention the name of Cosette, I shiver, do they really pronounce it like that in English material ?

In the English version, its usually done as COR-sette (similar to the old fashioned underwear) rather then the "K-sette" Bob used. Just checked the film soundtrack and there they have a long 1st syllable.

Edit 3:

sammysoso:
Heehee, laughing at the people losing their mind over Bob's changing accent.

Is it really that big of a deal?

Personally it was the only thing I liked in the review.

Edit 4 (Damn thats a lot of edits): I think this the first time I've heard someone use "BBC mini-series" as an insult.

Each time you mention the name of Cosette, I shiver, do they really pronounce it like that in English material ?

Daaaah Whoosh:
I read some of the original book in my French class a few years ago, and then we watched a movie based off of the book rather than the musical. It focused a lot more on Jean Valjean's transformation, and a lot of characters such as the inkeepers and Eponine (is that her name?) got all but written out.

HTF to you write out Thénardier from the story, especially when focusing on Valjean ? He's his foil.

Has for the name you ask, Éponine, she is Thénardier's elder daughter. If the story focus on Valjean she could indeed be easily ignored.

Heehee, laughing at the people losing their mind over Bob's changing accent.

Is it really that big of a deal?

Mr.Tea:
I'm already biased since I fucking hate... nah, what's stronger than hate? Oh, I megaloathe musicals. But seriously, why couldn't they make a real movie with this?

And then it had to star Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman... I don't think they could have made this film less appealing to me.

Edit: OH! And then there's having to listen to anglophones keep pronouncing French names... Oh how much better it (and indeed any movie) would have been with Cristoph Waltz.

There was an actual movie movie made about 12 years ago with Liam Neeson. It's based on the book, not the musical. It's actually a pretty decent movie.

sammysoso:
Heehee, laughing at the people losing their mind over Bob's changing accent.

Is it really that big of a deal?

Other then butchering Cosette name, I admit nothing to drive me insane, at 2:01 sound like he calling her Cassette. =p

THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU Bob for saying this. Nothing drives me more bonkers than people going nuts over something poorly done out of a misplaced sense of culture.

Les Mis is one of the greatest books ever written. There's no arguing that. I think most people like this movie because they feel like they're "supposed" to like it given how awesome the stage show is. Thing is, "good" and "bad" pieces of work not not subjective. There are measurable standards for how good or bad something is. Les Mis is just a bad film. It had bad directing, bad sound design, bad pacing, bad writing. If you really liked it, then good for you. You didn't waste your money like I did. But the film I saw looked and sounded like it was made by kids in their backyard.

I was biased from the beginning because I really enjoyed the book. It's not good in any traditional sense, but it's incredibly emotional and inspiring. If you had told me at the time I had read it someone was going to adapt it into a film I probably wouldn't be very excited because the book really doesn't have a cinematic feel. It generally draws empathy for the characters by giving you a 10 page tragic biography of their families so you can get an idea of what being lower class in the 17th century was like. If you had told me they were making a musical out of it, I'd have thought you'd gone insane (at the time I hadn't heard of the acclaimed musical). Now that someone has come out and said that the musical film adaptation's characters are flat, the story has terrible pacing and it doesn't give you any reason to give a shit about anything that happens, I'm not surprised.

I think the character of Marius is very complex and hard to capture in the segment he's allowed on a film adaptation. He's an unlikeable shithead and the only goodwill he has is that his father had a tragic backstory and loved him dearly, he seems to have some balls at the beginning but immediately pisses it all away and reveals himself to be an insufferable, angsty teenager with a death wish and no drive. Jean saving Marius is an interesting moment given that he practically fucks himself over for his daughter's happiness and you can see it from a mile off. There are really no characters in Les Miserables that aren't fascinating but as should be obvious it takes 700 pages and hundreds of tiny vignettes to reveal why that is.

JudgeGame:
giving you a 10 page tragic biography of their families so you can get an idea of what being lower class in the 17th century was like.

19th century

Accent really seeping into this video, not that that's a bad thing exactly.

This sounds very similar to what my sister was saying about the movie, although more precise on they whys.

I don't know why this review is occurring.... this movie was number three on his ten most hated movies of the year. I think that is review enough. His reasoning is kind of irrelevant. Comparing it to the book is also irrelevant as the movie is clearly aimed at the crowd who liked and are into watching, musical theatre. It seems to me that Bob probably does not like musical theatre, which is 100% Ok, but then it kind of skews what he may have to say about a movie adapted from the musical theatre version of the story.

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