General review: Be sure to drink a lot of water, because you will be crying. A lot. This movie is a musical that is semi-opera, filled to the brim with themes and multi-layered characters. However, the overarching theme of hope shines through the most. The cast did great acting-wise, but some do not shine so bright in the singing category. The set and costume design were amazing, and really put you into the time period. Tom Hooper does a great job in the direction and editing of the film, and it shines during solo pieces, such as I Dreamed a Dream. If you don’t like musicals, you will hate this movie, since it nearly reaches 3 hours. However, if you love yourself a good, emotional musical, get your eyes ready, because there will be tears.
Full Review: This movie is directed by Tom Hooper, previously known for The King’s Speech ( a decent movie, but nothing special. ) When he embarked on the quest to adapt this musical, he did something most never thought of doing: live recording. I’ll tell you one thing, the live recording does this movie justice, helping the actors shine while singing.
Let’s get into this.
The cast: *disclaimer: when I say they sing good, obviously not as good as the original musical cast, but just for the movie in general…if that makes sense.*
Hugh Jackman- His acting is great, and his singing is one of the best in the film. The age progression that they employ for him is also very good. The film spans around 20 years, and you really see time affecting him. His character development is great, albiet rushed in the beginning.
Anne Hathaway- Her story line sets up a lot of the movie, and it is very important for her performance to really hit home. Luckily, Anne Hathaway blows it out of the water with her acting, and her performance of “I Dreamed a Dream”. She sings the whole thing in one take! It’s great! Her voice is also very good (shown off when she and Hugh Jackman belted a few numbers during the Oscars a few years back.)
Russell Crowe- Oh Russell Crowe. His singing is very weak, and he often gets swallowed up by the other superior singers in the film. He belongs in a rock band (in which he is), not an opera/musical. His character shows no change whatsoever throughout the movie, even though the original character does, I think. He is just displayed as the antagonist. Grr, I’m bad. That’s about it.
Amanda Seyfried- She’s great (and adorable), even if she doesn’t get much screen time. Her voice has a very quick vibrato, so it distracted me while I was watching it. It sounded like the girl version of the lead singer of Fall Out Boy. She serves her purpose, but doesn’t blow it out of the water.
The Plot- The plot is simple, but complex at the same time. The actions are very simple, but keeping track of all of the character motivations is the most fun. The intertwining lives and themes of this movie is what pulls the most heartstrings. The movie is about hope, war, love, death, life, forgiveness, and so much more. This movie is mostly about the human situation, and that is why many people can relate with it. Every theme gets its moment to shine, but hope shines the brightest.
The set and costume design are impeccable! You feel transported to the barricade of the French Revolution, to this time of rebellion and poverty. If the design was bad, most of the movie would have suffered.
The controversy – Many people have panned Tom Hooper’s decision to do the live recording, single cut songs, and zooming up close on the actor’s face. I personally loved this decision. It makes the song feel very personal, even if it is part of a spectacular event. There is a really good balance between the epic and the personal. I LOVE IT.
Overall score- 9/10