Cinematic Releases: Les Miserables

To adapt a world renowned musical to the screen is never an easy task. Some have succeeded and some have abysmally failed. Luckily for us, this version of Les Miserables is an absolute cinematic achievement that not only captures the essence of the play but humanizes the characters beyond anything ever done on stage. Each actor does a wonderful job of fulfilling these classic roles with superb attention to detail and an emotion I've not seen on screen this year.

Many people will avoid this because it's a musical and some won't see it because they fear their favorite actors singing. While the singing is not always top notch, there's just something enigmatic about Anne Hathaway, Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman performing these songs. Knowing their past dramatic performances, I still felt absolutely engaged by their vocal talents. Each actor easily moves outside the realm of their typical roles while investing themselves in to a new dynamic territory with music.

Crowe is probably the weakest vocal talent of the bunch but still makes this version of Javert the one that will stick in my mind. He owns this character. Hathaway and Jackman both excel in their melodic delivery. My only mild disappointment were the characters of Thenardier and Madame Thenardier. Their presence could have been much stronger and much more involved. However, I know some things had to be changed to adapt this to film.

Les Miserables is truly a visual miracle. Each set and costume are perfectly designed with the utmost care. Director Tom Hooper captures 19th century France in stunning detail while delivering one of the most emotionally draining and visually arresting films of 2012. Having seen the stage version 5 times, it was nice to experience Hooper's take on these classic characters, sets and environments.

If you're thinking about seeing this movie, do it. If you're second guessing yourself about seeing it, don't. This is the type of musical that everyone can enjoy. It's not boring in the least and never deviates from the source material. Fans of the stage version will definitely enjoy it and people that have never seen it will finally get a chance to experience one of the best stories ever written.