9. Les MiserablesInitial Impression: Despite my misgivings about Tom Hooper, and the fact that The King's Speech was a good, but terribly overrated film, I still found myself drawn by star power and love of the source material. It's Les Miserables! If any play should have been turned into a movie before Phantom, it should have been this! Epic French costumes, drama and intrigue with a dash of romance, sweeping scenery, and all of this PLUS a musical? How was this NOT used as bait for the Oscar hook before? Alas, the more I read reviews citing everything from Russell Crowe's rather subpar singing voice to a mid-film dip in quality that supposedly rendered the first and last act's greatness useless , the more I began to worry. Again, I LOVE Les Mis, and the last thing I wanted was a film that took something I loved and turned it into a sterile, joyless affair. If I'd wanted that, I'd have stayed home and watched Jurassic Park III again. I was primed and ready to relive a show that I'd experienced on the stage through the medium of film. The Verdict: Jurassic Park III would have been a more preferable option after sitting through this disaster. Tom Hooper has once again managed to turn something that could have been interesting and intriguing, and turned it into a milquetoast affair with his "directing". His musical numbers turned out looking like 1990's music videos for the likes of Duran Duran, and he never lets his camera truly explore the sets as he forces his leads to sing in front of the camera, never allowing them to move past 10 feet from the camera. As if that wasn't bad enough, the music was altered enough that actual Les Mis fans would notice. Lines are cut, melodies are pitched down and instead end up sounding more depressing than somewhat energetic, and that damned ending on the barricade! Hooper misery bangs the audience with a story that was already sad enough on Broadway, but manages to be sadder with Hooper's decisions. By the time Gavroche got gunned down, I pretty much threw up my hands and said "I'm done!" I honestly don't remember being hammered with the message, "God's in charge, just leave it up to him" so heavily when I saw the play on Broadway, and the film just ended up leaving me cold. The one thing it does get right though is, predictably, "I Dreamed A Dream". Anne Hathaway's performance during that number assured her the Oscar she's been promised since the beginning of awards season. Her balance of hellish vulnerability and wistful remembrance works perfectly. That's not to say any of the other actors aren't good at their jobs, it's just to say that out of a film that was directed to Hell, one angel arose. Final note: Russell Crowe wasn't that bad of a singer. How quickly you all forget Pierce Brosnan in Mamma Mia.
Mike Reyes may or may not be a Time Lord, but he's definitely the Doctor Who editor here at What Culture. In addition to his work at What Culture, Mr. Reyes writes for Cocktails and Movies, as well as his own personal blogs Mr. Controversy and The Bookish Kind. On top of that, he's also got a couple Short Stories and Novels in various states of completion, like any good writer worth their salt. He resides in New Jersey, and compiles his work from all publications on his Facebook page.