Saturday, January 5, 2013

Les Misérables: The Worst Possible Sequel to X-Men Origins

Everyone and their mom (actually, their moms for the most part) seemed crazy excited for this long-awaited film adaptation of the stage musical Les Misérables. I'll admit, even I was looking forward to it. But despite what you may hear, it's not that good.

They didn't even refer to her as Catwoman once.
Quick side note: Now's about the time where I'd give you a quick run-down of the film's story. Unfortunately, the plot presented here is so convoluted that I would be wasting my time with a go at it. But, seeing as I love wasting my time, let's go. James Howlett is an ex-prisoner on the run from The Gladiator, a guard whose actual position in the police department/military is never revealed but is important enough that he is the one officer anyone recognizes. Mia Thermopolis is a factory-worker-turned-inspiration-for-a-Police-song focused on helping her daughter. She bites the dust, and Howlett must give dedicate his life to caring for her daughter. This coincides with the French Revolution, and a bunch of stuff happens that bores the crap out of the audience.

Before I lose you, dear readers, I'll give you the good parts - because apparently this musical is Jesus and everyone should love it. The music is fantastic as always, and I appreciate the actors' deliberate efforts to never let the focus on delivering the notes outshine the script's delivery. However, one of the cast members probably should have reverted his focus back to delivering the notes.

Watch your back, Ke$ha
In reality, he's not as bad as you've been led to believe. I just find it funny that out of all of this film's problems, this is what critics have been pointing out. But more on that later; back to the good stuff.

All of the actors' performances are spot-on as well. Hathaway is probably going to nab a few Oscars, and deservedly so. Her rendition of "I Dreamed a Dream" is well worth the price of admission. And props to Sascha Baron Cohen for being the one person in France with a French accent.

But enough gushing. Now for the bad parts.

While the actors do fine jobs, everything going on behind the camera makes Les Misérables into something of a mess. The cinematography (you know, that stuff critics mention but no one ever actually notices) gets pretty uncomfortable. The musical numbers involve the cameras focusing exclusively on the performers and not much else. Then, at other moments, the lens leaves the actors to rock out to some negative space. At one point I thought, "Wow, Russell Crowe and the other actors in this scene are nice, but i'm sure glad we have our focus on that brick wall. Oh yeah. Brick walls."

That is some fine masonry.
The elephant in the room is that the original stage production that everyone tried so hard to recreate onscreen simply does not translate to film. Characters portrayed by big name actors have insanely uneven amounts of screen time, in that I had forgotten about Amanda Seyfried by the end of the film. Furthermore, these characters' motivations don't make a heck of a lot of sense. For instance, Marius and Cosette decide they love each other long before they've even spoken. These interactions lead to a lot of those "What? Why didn't you just..." feelings. The story is just as oddly structured. The status quo and goals of the characters change so much that I had no idea what the climax was supposed to be, and not in a "where are they going to take me next?" way. Lastly, this movie is long. A large runtime can be pulled off (see: Django Unchained, a film that's even longer than this one), just not here.

Perhaps I'm being too hard on Les Misérables, but probably not. Nevertheless, if you enjoyed the stage musical, you'll have fun here. In the end, however, the film just doesn't work.

Les Misérables should be marked as a complete failure for its unwillingness to behead Kirsten Dunst. I thought this was about the French Revolution.

What did you all think? I'm really interested to hear back from the people who read this; there appears to be a few of you.


  1. Well, that is some DAMN fine masonry. Good eye, Payton.

  2. Shit, I need to focus more on editing. A revised version should show up now.

  3. Replies
    1. As the ladies say, he was "hot enough to bake cookies on." Other than that, I thought he performed pretty well. He's a very capable singer and actor; however, Jean Valjean isn't written with that much depth.