Les Miserables: Initial Reviews, Not so Miserable.
The film adaptation of the musical theatre adaptation of Victor Hugo's Les Miserables could have been an enormous disaster. A lot was riding on it- loved by millions of book readers and theatre goers, scrutiny was bound to be intense. But the combination incredible director (Thomas Hooper), production team and cast, the grand French narrative, according to reviewers so far, has vindicated it and has proven to be a real triumph.
The Mirror gave it four stars, out of five, and praised the stars that appear in it individually. "Russell Crowe is a solid, uniformed presence as brooding baddie Javert while opposite hunk number Hugh Jackman is conflicted and formal (but not stuffy) as he smoulders as the heroic Jean Valjean - even after we are introduced to him in a prison camp."
"Anne Hathaway looked striking too - but her performance had even more impact. She is stunningly good as the tragic Fantine." They said, giving particular praise for the vocal performances of Hathway and Amanda Siegfried, "Her shaven-headed rendition of 'I Dreamed a Dream' is a real highlight... Elsewhere, Amanda Seyfried's gloriously piercing voice shines as much as her beautifully lucid skin."
The Independent gave it even higher praise, with five out of five stars. Under Hooper's direction, the actors were allowed to sing live on camera rather than recording their songs separately and merely miming on screen. "The result is performances that are raw, real and devastating in their emotional punch... the impact is even greater than on the stage." Adding, "[Hooper has] reinvented the movie musical and created a whole new generation of Les Mis lovers. It's a dream nobody could have dreamed."
The Guardian's expectations were perhaps a little higher, awarding only three out of a possible five stars. The review said that "Hooper's handle on the grand canvas is impressive, and your temples throb at the logistics of those final scenes", but added "By the end, you feel like a piñata on the dancefloor: empty, in bits, the victim of prolonged assault by killer pipes."