Red and Black: Two different looks at the holiday’s biggest blockbuster

Suzanne Stroup’s review

When I heard the music from Broadway’s “Les Misérables”, I thought it was forgettable, to go along with the convoluted story and the one-dimensional characters. When I heard about the movie, I was not planning on seeing this one in theaters. Then I read the cast list. While people like Anne Hathaway and Hugh Jackman don’t exactly float my boat, people like Samantha Barks and Aaron Tveit do. Because of these two names, I thought I’d force myself to see it.
The highlights for me were “Do You Hear the People Sing?” and “Master of the House”. Sascha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter were absolutely perfect as the Thenardiers. I was not so impressed with the main characters. Hugh Jackman was…disappointing. He acted extremely well, but he sang as if he’d never met a note he didn’t want to sing sharp. Also, what was with creating a new song just for the movie? Seems like the producers are getting a little Oscar hungry.
I am in the unpopular club of kind of hating Anne Hathaway. She’s a decent actress, but should she win Best Supporting Actress because she butchered one of the best songs in a musical and got her hair cut off with a knife? She was in the movie for 30 minutes, tops, and she just cried the whole time. Anyone worth her million-dollar contract should be able to do that. And then we come to Russell Crowe. He just needs to learn to move his tongue when he is singing, and most of his issues would be resolved.
After enduring these people for an hour and a half, we finally meet the students who set up the Barricade. Aaron Tveit, Samantha Barks and Eddie Redmayne were all fantastic, but any theatre-lover knew that they would be. Even the people cast as bit parts, just students, were incredible.
All of that being said about the actors, the movie was actually really watchable. It was gorgeous, full of rich colors against the stark contrast of the streets and the poor. Tom Hooper is a fantastic director and did a great job. He certainly deserves the Oscar. My only complaint with him was, at times, it seemed like he was focusing too much on the fact that the actors were singing live rather than on the storyline. Also, the handheld camera in the first few scenes was nauseating.
Obviously, I didn’t have the heart-wrenching experience that most people do, but hey, I’m in the minority. So let them eat their metaphorical cake, and watch this emotional porn. I’ll just be in the next theater over.