Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Les Miserables - Movie Review (Part Two)

On to Part Two! In this part, I'm going to talk about several scenes of the movie.

Beginning scene: I had already watched part of the convicts-pulling-boat scene several times before I actually saw the movie. I think the scene was a very powerful opening to the movie - however, it seemed to me that the pulling was too effortless. It looked as if the men were just handing a length of the rope down to the next one, instead of trying to pull a boat into the harbour. But maybe that's just me...

After release: I think the little snapshots of Jean being forced out of towns was done very well. However...I thought having the Bishop just appearing out of nowhere was a bad move.

Before I move on, I want to just make a note that all the beginning parts of this movie were a love/hate relationship to me. It just seeemed that the story went at a rapid pace, slowed down to a crawl with solos, and sped up again at a maddening pace. I like the main part of the movie better than the beginning.

At the End of the Day: I was certainly not expecting to see all those people in jail! I mean, it makes sense for those times, but after listening to this song so many times before I even watched the movie made me think the common people on the street were singing - sort of like in the animated movie Anastasia. I was fully satisfied with this scene, I think it was done very well.

May I say I thought it was SO COOL that Jean Valjean started a trade in making rosaries?!
Fantine's Demise: I heard some things about the "Lovely Ladies" scene, so I was a little worried about how Fantine's fall from grace was going to be shown. I was pleasantly surprised - the content I was worried about was glossed over and dealt with well. I wouldn't give this movie to anyone under 14 (at the very least), but for someone older like myself (age 17), it was fine.

Ending of the Beginning: Fantine's arrest and death were done beautifully. Master of the House really shows the corruption of society, and is probably the funniest and most disgusting scene of the entire movie. I liked that Jean still gave Cosette the doll, but it wasn't done as nicely in the book, of course. Nothing can beat that beautiful scene. The running-away-from-Javert-with-Cosette was done well, and Javert's "Stars" was --- wow. Javert's walking so close to the edge shows his self-righteousness SO WELL. By that point in the movie, my mom was so disgusted with Javert that she was begging for him to fall off the edge. xD

The Beginning of the Main Action: Paris's "Look Down" was more of something that I was expecting. Gavroche really has some spunk. I thought that Marius' grandfather's one line of "Don't you know how you have shamed our family!" showed the whole Marius/grandfather well in one line. I was disappointed that "The Robbery" came so sudden and out of the blue instead of Jean Valjean coming to the Thenardier's house. I liked ABC Cafe, In My Life, and a Heart Full of Love. However ---- I did find one thing not too logical. Jean Valjean hears Eponine's warning scream and suddenly thinks, "It must be Javert! I must get away!" Waaaaaaaait a second...you hear a random girl screaming in the street, and you immediately think it's Javert? Dude, I know this guy has been tracking you down for a long time, but I don't think a girl would scream if she saw Javert. He's one of the police, after all. He's not that much of a bad guy when he's around other people.

One Day More: Loved, loved, LOVED.

The Revolution Begins: I wasn't expecting "Do You Hear the People Sing?" to be sung at General Lamarque's funeral... I loved the throwing-furniture-into-the-street scene. I have to say, though, some things make a lot more sense (like who those ladies at the barricade are) if you know the book. I liked to see that Grantaire even pitched in - in his own way. *smirks* I totally agree with this joke:

Honestly. Javert just wears a different hat and no one recognizes him? And the boys TRUST him? Umm....wow. I thought the scene when Marius saves the barricade by threatening to blow it up worked really well. "A Little Fall of Rain" was sad, but beautiful. "Bring Him Home" is the last slowing down before everything starts to happen and the revolution starts to fall apart.

The Barricade Boys' Demise: "The Final Battle" was done VERY well. Gavroche's death was touching. The final moment of desperation as the boys try to get away but no one lets them in was even more touching. Enjolras' and Graintaire's death together was super touching for those who know the book. If I hadn't read the book, the scene wouldn't have made as much sense to me.

Jean Saves Marius: The sewers...wow. After reading several chapters of Hugo's discussion of those sewers, I felt that the sewers were done well. Thenardier picking things from dead...or not so dead...bodies was a nod to what he did after the Battle of Waterloo in the book. I missed Javert's "Who are you?" and Jean Valjean's, "Myself", though. Javert's Suicide - I felt a little sad when he fell into the river. Sorry...I liked Russel Crowe. :P Backing up a little, when Jean Valjean just walked away and Javert let him go - that wasn't done well. At all. The book was much better in the respect of that scene.

After the Revolution: The women wiping the blood off the streets was very sad. Marius' "Empty Chairs at Empty Chairs" was chilling. The Marius-and-Cosette-together scene is warming, making the viewer feel that everything is going to be alright again. But then we see Jean Valjean left out of things, going away, and his body weakening - I thought all of that shown in one song was a good way to show all of that material from the book in a few minutes. Marius' and Cosette's wedding was shown in a quick, well-done way - and the Thenardiers at the feast was a good laugh before the end. I liked how the Thenardiers were in disguise, but you could still tell that it was obviously them. Here I make a confession - as Monsieur Thenardier talked to Marius, I couldn't help watching his fake mustache move the entire time.

The End: Jean Valjean's death scene was done very well. I think the choice to replace Eponine with the Bishop to sing with Fantine was a good idea, since Jean didn't know Eponine, while the Bishop was the one who led to Jean Valjean's new life. The very ending, though - when everyone was singing at the barricade. I liked it, but I felt that Jean Valjean and Fantine had nothing to do with the Revolution and it was just a way to tie the two threads of the story together.

Credit Music = Lovely

All in all, I really enjoyed this movie. It goes up there on my top list, up there with The Lord of the Rings. :)

Alyianna's rating: 8.5 out of 10

And here's some more pictures because you can never have enough. ;0


Jean Valjean and Fantine

young Cosette


I'm sorry...this is my sense of humour.

Sunday, June 2, 2013

Les Miserables - Movie Review (Part One)

So...I finally finished watching Les Miserables! What can I say about it? It was amazing, that's for sure. I've never watched a movie musical with almost no talking whatsoever, so it was also a new experience.

What do I think about the musical element? Well, I love musicals and singing itself, but I was a little disappointed about how rushed some scenes were. However, I do understand that because it is a musical, that is how some things have to be and that not everything from the books can be included. I was pleased with the elements that were kept in, from Jean Valjean's yellow coat to all the crosses (keeping with the religious nature of the book).

The story: Jean Valjean was sentenced to the galleys for many years after stealing a loaf of bread to feed his starving sister's child (actually, there were several children in the book, but I won't harp on that as this is a summary). After his release, it is only the kind Bishop, who turns him on the right path to start a new life. Then he meets Fantine, who has turned to desperate paths to save her daughter, Cosette. He promises to take care of Cosette, and even then, he could have spent his life in peace - but Javert, the fanatic police inspector, is on his heels...

Javert and Jean Valjean
Jean Valjean was played very well by Hugh Jackman. His voice can't go the same heights as the likes of Colm Wilkinson (a good example is found in comparing their versions of "Bring Him Home"), but I prefer Hugh Jackman's emotional portrayal of the main character of this story. I think he did an amazing job, and after watching behind-the-scenes things, I feel amazement when I see how much Hugh sacrificed to be able to play Jean Valjean the best he could. There are times when you can hear the strain on his voice, but he does everything - acting, singing - with such skill that I think we can forgive him for that. I can't even choose a best scene for Hugh.

Russel Crowe played Javert. I've seen a whole lot of people on the Internet say that he did a horrible job, which shocks me because I think he did a really great job. I think Russel's looks and voice are perfect for Javert. I love his solos and any time he is singing, actually because while he doesn't have the best voice out of all the actors/actresses, I just love his for some reason.

While Fantine was described as having beautiful golden locks in the book, the emotion used by brunette Anne Hathaway made me completely forget that one little detail. Her voice is also so lovely and heavenly that she sounds like an angel (which she actually is at the end of the movie... :P).

I thought Eddie Redmayne did a good job on Marius - though when Jean Valjean told Marius about his real identity near the end of the movie, I found Eddie's facial expression a little weird for the situation. Eddie's best scene was definitely "Empty Chairs at Empty Tables"; I thought it was done magnificently. Oh, and I also loved Marius' defending scene at the barricade.

Amanda Seyfried's Cosette - Amanda's voice is probably the best out of everyone's. She can reach such high notes, and her voice trills. However, I do have to admit she sounds a little bit like a sheep at times. :P I actually don't like the older Cosette as I find her immature and a little annoying in that respect - but she was exactly the same way in the book, so perhaps that's a good thing. Aaaand you do have to admit Cosette is beautiful. :) I would give her best scene as being when she thinks about Marius in her room, singing "In My Life".

Jean, Marius, Cosette

I don't think you can find anything lacking in Samantha Barker's Eponine. This is HER role - she played it on stage before she was cast in the movie. Her voice is great...the emotion she shows...those twitches when she dying! I'd say her best scene is probably her solo "On My Own" - or maybe "A Little Fall of Rain".

The Thenardiers - I really should have mentioned them before now. ;) Monsieur is played by Sacha Baron Cohen. I love the accent he uses, the slyness he portrays, all of it. He pulls off his funny parts wonderfully. Madame is played by *gasp* Helena Bonham-Carter, one of my favourite actresses. While Mademoiselle is big and tough and mean in the books while Helena is petite, I love her bird-nest's hair, and I think she does a good job anyway. This pair adds the comic element to all the darkness in this movie.

In the book, Enjolras is described to have an angelic face --- and while I'm not saying that Aaron Tveit has one, I am going to say that I think the director made a good choice in casting him. ;) I also like his hair... (and while I'm on this point, note this - Alyianna has an obsession with hair). Besides that, I think Aaron played this character really well, keeping with the strong, haughty air of the original Enjolras.

Enjolras and Grantaire
I still have most of the barricade boys mixed up (except for Marius and Enjolras, of course), but I was able to pick up Grantaire, as it's obvious which one is him. I wish there had been time to expand on the Grantaire/Enjolras thing, but, having finished the book before I got to this scene, I thought their death scene together was done beautifully. However, for those who haven't read the book, I'm not sure if they would understand the true beauty of it.

Gavroche was perfect, spunky and a little leader. Even though there wasn't time to go into all the subplot and show Gavroche taking care of two little boys, I think that was shown well in the street scene with the gamin of the streets of Paris running after Gavroche.

One character I was disappointed with, however, was the Bishop. As he has the first beginning chapters of the book strictly written on him, I felt that the five minutes he was on screen wasn't enough. Yes, his goodness and holiness shone through and through in those five minutes...but I'm still disappointed. I was happy, however, that he was played by Colm Wilkinson - it just adds more depth to the scene when the Bishop (the classic Jean Valjean of the stage) hands the candlesticks to Jean Valjean (the new Jean Valjean, of the movie).

As said at the beginning, I liked how the Catholic elements were kept in this movie. It kept the movie historically correct and also closer to the book. ;) The only thing that WASN'T Catholic was the pro-Revolutionary part of the plot, but this was in the book (obviously) and wasn't blatantly anti-Catholic (besides the fact that revolution isn't Catholic).

In the next part, I'll talk about scenes from the movie.

Alyianna's rating: 8.5 out of 10