Monday, March 18, 2013

Movie: Les Miserables

My rating on a 1-10 scale: 8 high

Genre: Classic, life

Primary actors: Liam Neeson, Claire Danes, Uma Thurman, Geoffery Rush, Hans Matheson

Length: Almost 2 ½ hours

Based on: Les Miserables by Victor Hugo

Time period: 1800s

Year it came out: 1998

My overall opinion: So much fun to see another version of “Les Miserables”! There were a few aspects about this one that I really enjoyed, at least as much as or more than in the newer 2012 film. Here we go, in no particular order – and don’t worry, this shouldn’t be too long. :)

Of course, Liam Neeson as Jean Valjean was a highlight. And he was great! His voice was the best part, for sure. However, he did a good job as Valjean. In my opinion, not quite as impressive as Hugh Jackman, but still good.

Then Uma Thuramn was Fantine, and here I’ve gotta admit that I probably preferred Anne Hathaway. One good thing about this film was that for the most part it wasn’t quite as explicit as the 2012 version. However, there was one version in which she was virtually naked – something good to know before watching. Yeah, pretty sure I did prefer Anne in the part – Anne was very convincing.

Let’s see, then there was Cosette. I preferred her by quite a bit in this film! Claire Danes acted her here. Random fact time: I had seen her a few days before in “Temple Grandin,” where she did an amazingly believable job acting an autistic girl. Btw, that’s a good film. :) Anyway. I thought she did a lot better in the role than Amanda Seyfried, and liked her just as a person much better. Her voice was nice.

Eponine! Or lack thereof. Apparently she appears in one brief scene as a child, but I really wish she’d been in here as an adult. Because as you know, I really liked her in the 2012 film, where she was acted by Samantha Barks. I missed her a lot here! She has an important part in the Marius and Cosette story, and I missed that.

Before we move on, let me mention one more actor – Geoffrey Rush as Javert. I know my sweet friend Rissi prefers him over Russell Crowe (and she prefers this whole film over the other), but me? I liked Russell Crowe a lot better. One reason? RC’s voice is so deep and absolutely awesome. This guy had an anger and ken for revenge that was very understandable (did I use that “k” word right?). That being said, I think RC did too.

OOOO. Another actor. Cause we can’t leave him out. Hans Matheson as Marius. What a disappointment! My friend who I watched this with and I thought he looked vampireish for the first part of the movie. And you don’t want the romantic lead to look like a vampire in LesMis, trust me. White face, black hair, and a little rain. Nope, didn’t like him there. I liked him a little better further in, but he was especially awful at the beginning.

So, the sum of my thoughts in the acting… Stick Liam Neeson’s voice on Hugh Jackman (who doesn’t have a bad voice, but LN’s is so awesome…). Keep Anne as Fantine. Move Claire Danes to be Cosette. Ditch Hans Matheson and Geoffery Rush. And get Eponine back.

Rissi mentioned that the 2012 musical is a “pretty” film in terms of quality, sets, etc. Understandable, since it was made almost 15 years later. They’re a little hard to compare since they were made so far apart! I’d say that just for visuals, I much prefer the 2012 film. But that makes sense, so…

Then too there’s the music, or rather, the lack thereof. Because, that’s right, this 1998 movie didn’t have any songs in it. And I missed that! I know, I thought there was a bit much in the 2012 musical, but…I really did miss it here. There are some REALLY good songs. And I’m actually considering taking the 2012 movie up to a rating of 9 instead of 8.5 because of the music which I’ve been listening to constantly ever since. And still loving! So yeah, that was disappointing.

Javert’s suicide…it was a little strange in this one. Valjean just standing there watching? Weird. I “preferred” the one in the other movie.

I think that about sums up my thoughts…good, but not as good. I liked it, and it was worth the $5 I paid for it (yay for $5 bins at Wal-Mart!). I don’t mind watching it again.

Have you read my review of the 2012 Les Miserables yet? If not, now would be a good time! :)


Essie DeWayne said...

This movie was my first introduction to Les Miserables. I watched it when I was 16, and I was just taken in. It was a powerful story, and it had me thinking for a long time afterwords.
Of course, I prefer the 2012 version better. It is well done, but like you said, you can't compare movies made almost 20 years apart. :)

Rissi said...

Hey, Charity! Glad you reviewed this one, girl - once my cousin gives my family's copy back (I have been *dying* to see it again), hopefully I'll review it.

So... I am glad you liked some things about it. Like both Cosette's (have been a fan of Amanda for a while as well as Claire). Don't mind Eponine missing (I liked her character, it's just that her MIA in this version didn't bother me) and I'll have to watch out for Marius in this one since I don't much remember him - I didn't love Eddie either so...

Prefer Liam as well as Rush in this one if fans are looking for a more tension filled "chase" of the suspense. Russell Crowe was just too much of a "teddy bear" in this one. Nonetheless I think he's a great actor (have you seen 'Next 3 Days'?). Anne was probably better than Uma though. Again I'll have to make note of that in a re-watch. :)

For me, the musical could have been SO much better. I liked much about it - i.e. that it was "pretty" - however this adaptation is so much more powerful in its representation. The power of forgiveness and redemption is that much more obvious because it lacks music. I suspect had the musical taken the time to "break" from the songs and have an actual script, I'd have liked it better. As it stands now, the songs weren't as "powerful" because the entire movie spoke in song for over two hours. It was a bit tiring. :/

Thanks for the s/o! Always enjoy our chats, friend. :)

Hannah Mary said...

I'll have to keep an eye out for this movie! I really love anything Les Mis, and I'm sure I'd like this. I'd definitely miss Eponine, though, too. She's one of my favorite characters!

I just recently started following your blog (although I've been following your goodreads for a while) and I really enjoy and appreciate all your reviews!

Hamlette said...

I haven't seen this for years -- it was the first movie version I saw. My mom got the book one year and read it when I was 15 or so, and then we rented this movie once she was done, and I think she eventually bought a copy too. I watched it 3 or 4 times, but I do NOT remember Valjean watching Javert die! Isn't that strange? Totally blanked that out. Anyway, I love Liam Neeson, and Claire Danes makes Cosette much more sympathetic. I don't much care for or about Marius in the book or any movie version, so I don't really remember him here at all. But I wasn't a fan of Geoffrey Rush as Javert, as he seemed too... little. I think of Javert as being at least somewhat of a match for Valjean, and Rush was just too little. (I realize that is being very picky indeed.)

Charity U said...

EVERONE -- I watched the 10th Anniversary Concert, and will be reviewing that soon! :)

ESSIE - Sounds like there are quite a few of you who had this for your first introduction. That's awesome! It is indeed a powerful story. And both versions are well-done. :)

RISSI - So glad you came by! Oh, I'll look forward to your review. :) I don't know, Amanda as Cosette bothered me from the very beginning. Even without knowing the story! And I'm not quite sure why. Something to consider, I guess. Probably if I didn't know about Eponine, I wouldn't have noticed that she was gone -- but she does have rather an interesting and important part of play, so I'm surprised they didn't include her here! But part of why I love her is her songs (On My Own was my fav from the 2012 movie), so without them... I didn't love Eddie as Marius at first, but he's definitely grown on me. Like some songs. The more I see him, the more I like him! ;) There is certainly some tension -- yes, probably with the whole chase scene there's more. But as you know, I greatly prefer Russell Crowe. As to Liam or huge preference. I haven't seen "Next 3 Days" -- do I need to? ;) I too agree that more actual script in the 2012 version would have been nice -- there was a bit much singing. But now that I know all the songs, I don't know which I'd cut! Music can be a powerful way to portray things, and I must admit that I think without the music, the 2012 version might have been less powerful. Then again, it's also possible that just trimming the music a bit could have made it more powerful -- I'm not sure. I'll make sure and let you know on Twitter that I replied...these chats are so much fun! :D

HANNAH MARY - you love Les Mis and haven't seen this yet? That's sad. You do really need to! Eponine is my favorite character too. :) Thanks so much for following -- I'm glad you're along! Hope you have fun, and I'm so glad my reviews are helpful.

HAMLETTE - I need to read the book, everyone says so. But it's so big! Someday. :D Sounds like it's time for you to watch it again if you forgot about Valjean and Javert's final scene! It's kinda the grand finale (and final scene) in the movie, so...yup. It's true, Rush wasn't very large in physical terms. However, he carried enough anger for several men, methinks! Are you more of an Enjorlas fan than Marius? And being picky is fine -- the physical looks of an actor are important to almost any part!

Thanks all for commenting! I enjoyed the comments. :)

Hamlette said...

The book is huge. I read it on my lunch breaks while working one summer, and in my other bits of spare time, and it took me weeks. If you do read it, feel very free to skim the 30 or so pages on the history of the Paris sewer system, and also the giant recap of the battle of Waterloo. Skim, don't skip, but that'll make it much more palatable.

And yeah, I really am more of an Enjolras fan, in the book and definitely in the 2012. And actually... I like Montparnasse almost as well as Enjolras (he's part of Thenardier's street gang, but really nifty in the book).

Rissi said...

Some of the "songs" in the 2012 version weren't really songs (like 'On My Own' or 'I Dreamed a Dream') so much as sing-dialogue and in those cases, I think a scripted conversation would have gone a long way. I love musicals ('Sound of Music' or 'My Fair Lady') but the fact that usually movies break from songs and use some dialogue is helpful. Or that's how I feel. :) It allows the music to stand out more and be all the more impacting. Either way, I'm just glad you enjoyed the new adaptation! It's one I'll watch on occasion yet don't plan on indulging in often.

Something about Eddie bugs me much like you feel with Amanda. I don't know... there's just something I cannot quite put my finger on. Nevertheless I suspect I won't like Hans any better.

The Next Three Days stars Russell Crowe so that's why I wondered if you'd seen it. It's good if not a bit slow-moving. (The story is a mystery/thriller type.)

Hamlette said...

No, no, I'm wrong! It's not Montparnasse I liked in the book, it's Claquesous. D'oh!

And Rissi -- do you also dislike Andrew Lloyd Webber's musicals too, then? They, and this, are basically light opera, with a lot of recitative. Spoken dialog is generally supposed to emphasize those bits by highlighting their difference. They're much different than the usual Broadway musical, which is a play in which the actors periodically dance about and burst into song. Kind of like the difference between a musical and a ballet.

Lauricia said...

I have this version, and I've always quite loved it. To be honest, I don't know how anyone could play Valjean any better than Liam, but I do look forward to seeing the 2012 version. (comes out tomorrow on DVD!!!!)
Sweet Marius...Yeah, he seriously looks like a creep thats stalking her in the beginning, but he portrays the emotion you need to see in a movie. But I'm a big Eddie Redmayne fan, so I seriously can't wait to see Eddie as Marius.

Good review :) Thanks for sharing your thoughts on it!

God bless,

Bethy said...

Hi Charity,
I was very disappointed with this film. I thought it strayed way to far from the book. I mean I can forgive them for taking parts out but adding things in I hate. They completely changed Marius, he cared about the revolution more than Cosette, he was the leader of the revolution and was out there making speeches..who does that sound like...Enjolras. Not Marius. And Enjolras was absent. Fantine and JVJ mildly fell in love, which was just weird! And a complete No No.
And the bishop was really gruff and mean, not how he was described in the book.
When JVJ came to get Cosette from the Thenardier's he was super creepy.
They ruined so many moments that could have been good.
I completely missed out
It wasn't Les Miserables, It was the story of Jean Valjean. Which is okay, but not the story that Victor Hugo set out to write.
Anyway, I have written post on my blog about how much I dislike this movie...

Love your blog! (just not this movie, hehe)

Beth xxx

Bethy said...

*where it says "I completely missed out" I meant to delete that
P.S I wrote the blog post before I read yours...I don't want it to sound like I wrote it specifically to reply to your post! Hehe.

Charity U said...

HAMLETTE, good idea just to read it in bits...I should make that a goal. :) Waterloo I would certainly skim, bu the sewers might be vaguely interesting? ;)

RISSI, true, some of the songs were very much dialogish, for lack of a better word. Dialogue can be very good, I quite agree. Sounds like a fun RC movie, I'll have to look it up!

LAURICIA, have you seen the 2012 version yet? Please come back by and tell me what you think -- I'd love to hear! Agreed, Marius is downright creepy at first. You'll like Eddie, I think! :)

BETHY, having not read the book...I can't pass an opinion on the discrepancies yet. Yes, though, I agree that it was weird that Fantine and Valjean kinda seemed to fall in love. The bishop too was a little gruff. And thanks for loving my blog! :)

Lauricia said...

I haven't yet seen the 2012 version yet, and am nearly goin' crazy waiting! haha. I'll come by sometime and tell you what I think :)
Yes, I can't wait to see Eddie. Oh my goodness, so excited.

Charity U said...

Lauricia, do by all means! Enjoy Eddie. ;) :D

Alyianna Baggins said...

Interesting...I may have to check out this movie, though I'm not sure about this scene I hear about Fantine. *raises eyebrows*

They ditched Eponine?! WHAAAAT? That's worse than...than...ugh, I can't think of anything. I'll let you know when I do. :P

that Marius does look a bit like a vampire...

$5 is a pretty good deal. ;) Wonder if this one is on YouTube...

Charity U said...

Alyianna, yeah, it's pretty good! :) The Fantine scene would be one to avoid.