Probably my favourite musical of all time, I couldn't wait for Les Mis to come out Christmas Day. The unfortunate thing was that the stars were a little bit of a distraction to an otherwise excellent rendition of Victor Hugo's classic.
This iteration of the musical takes a little while getting used to. Usually, when musicals are put on the big screen, the singing ends up being part of the soundtrack. Instead, Tom Hooper decided that the singing was going to be part of the script. So this does 2 things.
1. On most sound systems, the singing is going to be on the centre speaker and the music on the side/surrounding speakers.
2. You have to act AND sing at the same time.
For myself, I found this to be part of the distraction. Case and point, Anne Hathaway's character Fantine has a big powerful solo that she has to cry through. Ever try crying and singing at the same time? It's not the easiest thing to do, and I do have to compliment her for that. But at the same time, at certain points, it almost seemed like she was screaming. Not so good.
I couldn't decide if Eddie Redmayne (Marius) had a problem acting, or a problem acting AND singing at the same time. His voice was actually pretty good, I mean heck, he DID win himself a Tony award. You see, when you're on stage and doing musicals, you don't act so much with your face as you do with your voice and your body language. And like I said about having the singing as part of the script, it's really hard to do both at the same time.
The biggest distraction however, came in the form of Russell Crowe, who played Javert. Yes, he has his band, 30 Odd Foot of Grunts, but that sort of singing is entirely different than the type of voice you use for musicals. His voice simply pales in comparison. It's particularly evident during his little back and forth with Hugh Jackman, who actually came from the world of musicals.
It's watchable enough for sure, and very well done despite these distractions. But I thought it was rather sad that the supporting cast members seemed to have better voices than the starring cast. Again, distracting.