As many fans of the classic musical Les Miserables were waiting for the movie to arrive, there were whispers that maybe this would wind up as a disappointment. Most were confident Hugh Jackman would be a very credible Jean Valjean, but could Russell Crowe become a great Javert as Roger Allam? Could Anne Hathaway, who had to deal with a Devil who wore Prada, possibly be Fantine? That's like stealing The Dark Knight Rises as Catwoman.
Lily Kane as Cosette? Borat as Thenardier?
YES...to all of that and more.
True, it's not exactly like the musical that's familiar to those who saw it on Broadway, or in concert form on PBS every pledge drive. Director Tom Hooper turned the musical into an adaptation of the story, with help from the original writers. That's why you notice one song has been moved, another was left out, another was split into two parts,some extra lyrics that people never heard before, and, to some, the real Jean Valjean--aka Colm Wilkinson--mysteriously turned into the compassionate Bishop of Digne. This was done with the participation of Alain Boublil, Jean-Marc Natel and Herbert Kretzmer. It's still their musical.
Others have complained about so many close-ups, or that the actors' singing voices aren't pitch perfect. Well, it's the movies, where you always have to be ready for your close-up. Also, they are doing their roles as if it's straight acting while singing. That's why Valjean, who is still shaken by the compassion the Bishop gave him despite stealing silver, doesn't sing "What have I done?" perfectly. He doesn't have to. He's acting and singing in the moment. They all are.
It's also a jolt when we see Jackman, gaunt and bearded, suddenly become a factory owner who fails to help one of his workers, leading him to his true redemption. He is great as Valjean, and reminds me a bit of Wilkinson.
Now to Hathaway, who will be Best Supporting Actress for everything in 2013. Her big solo, "I Dreamed a Dream", is moved after "Lovely Ladies" because the movie decides she has to make that one big fall from unemployed factory worker to debased prostitute before the classic song about how she was deserted by a man she once loved, leaving her with child. Her big song is shown all in closeup because she feels shame for what she has done, and what she has lost. The last thing she would do is stand and make her statement. Seeing her breaks your heart, and it shows why this version of Les Miz should get its due from more people.
Russell Crowe can sing, usually rock and roll. He does fine as Javert, strutting along with his total certainty that he is never wrong about the law. However, I didn't like his version of "Stars". It didn't have that heft I've seen from the PBS versions. If he wants to try another musical, maybe Jackman can get him in Oklahoma or something like that. I did like their fight during "The Confrontation".
When I heard Sasha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter were going to be the sleazy and amoral Thenardiers, I really hoped they would pull it off. After all, Tim Burton proved they can handle musicals, thanks to Sweeney Todd. The best way to look at them is ask "How could they play the Thenardiers, if they can't be Alun Armstrong and Jenny Galloway?"
The answer is simple: be out and out sleazy, and they do become that. The movie also adds something interesting: we see that young Cosette grew up with young Eponine, who was treated a whole lot better and went along with their scams. That's a slight nod to Cinderella, with Valjean as the fairy godfather ready to get Cosette out of there.
Speaking of Cosette, I liked Amanda Seyfried in that role. She was a lot better than Katie Hall from the 25th anniversary version, but her voice kept reminding me of Jeanette MacDonald. Samantha Barks, who played Eponine in the 2010 concert, is also good, although they cut part of "On My Own."
Also, this movie found a good Marius in Eddie Redmayne, especially when he sings "Empty Chairs and Empty Tables." Nick Jonas should be shoved into the nearest theater, watch this movie, and be told THAT is how Marius should be done. Michael Ball is even better, but still.....
There's also an original song called "Suddenly", where Valjean realizes his responsibility to raise Cossette. It's not bad, but it stalled the momentum from when he gets Cossette to when Javert goes looking for both of them. There's also a surprising twist of coincidence which I hope is in the book.
For those who was disappointed "Les Miserables, the movie" isn't "Les Miserables the musical on film," give it another chance. It's a very good adaptation of the musical for film, with the original writers helping out. It's Les Miserables, the genuine musical article. At least it'll be more successful than Rock of Ages.
I did have to the chance to see Dr. Horrible early this morning after I got off my overnight shift at my radio station. I thought the site would be there in the morning.Then I find out it crashed along with Whedonesque. Holy Internet Musical, Batman! This new idea from Joss Whedon made you and the Joker almost moot...until this weekend rolls around, of course.
Still, the crash of the site is excellent news for iTunes. I am sure a lot of people are buying part one at two dollars a pop, and will do the same for the other two parts as well. I'd do that, but my iPod is audio only. I'll have to really consider upgrading to a video iPod soon.
This should also make DVD sales jump very high once people can take that route, like me. It's also good news for a group called J!nx, who has made Dr. Horrible t-shirts. I got the logo shirt, because Nathan's face on one of the designs looks a bit too creepy. I just hope my shirt gets to my house by next Tuesday so I can take it with me to Comic-Con. I hope someone can start making Dr. Horrible hats, too.
All this excitement over an internet musical has to get the notice of someone in the Big Media. If people can make a website explode over a little musical, imagine what they can do for a "lost episode" that's web exclusive. That would work for shows like Lost, Heroes (maybe revive the Origins arc this way), Stargate: Atlantis, Battlestar Galactica...or even Doctor Who. As for regular dramas or sitcoms, I am not too sure. They can make webisodes, like Rescue Me and The Office, but I'm not too sure about full episodes unless they are wilder than the TV-MA ranking. Al this just proves that once again, Joss is on to something...bringing new meaning to independent producing.
Now, can someone give the website some Cybernetic Growth Hormone?
Down with Captain Hammer!!
However, his duet with Penny (Felicia Day) was quite romantic..and this whole musical is great. Neil, of course, brings humanity to an evil villain who just wants to be loved. He'd give up the Evil League of Evil for Penny's friendly touch.
I gotta say...I never expected Nathan Fillion to be a musical leading man. Too bad he isn't in Mamma Mia as one of the three "fathers". Hopefully he can find himself in musicals, just like Lucy Lawless. Maybe we can have Serenity the musical! All you need is the soundtrack.
As for Miss Day, I do remember her singing in the HBO movie, Warm Springs. Yep, that movie on FDR's life before he became president included Day as one of the wheel-bound patients being able to show her musical talents.
Bring on parts two and three...then the DVD!
Mamma Mia! This is the musical to see! (Sorry, Meryl)
After we see the Doc's stunned look that Penny can be so easily swept off her feet by Captain Pen--I mean Hammer, we get a lovely duet between Penny and the Doc, "I Cannot Believe My Eyes", where their views of the world may conflict but their voices are well-matched. We see that Captain Hammer is indeed the Sean Hannity of superheroes, when he shows some reluctance to shake hands with the homeless or with geese. But show off on one of those paddle boats? He lives for that.
We also see the Doc's freeze ray caper fizzled out because his blog's popular with Hammer and the cops. A few clicks of the mouse could have fixed that. Now, Bad Horse, the Thoroughbred of Sin (great name for a race horse), wants nothing less than death and assassination from the Doc, or he can kiss the Evil League of Evil good-bye.
Meanwhile, he seems to be bonding with Penny thanks to Pinkberry, until Captain Hammer brags about how he's been able to get Penny that building for her shelter, thanks to his fist..and a pen, of course. Once he brags about how he'll bring Penny to his place, and present his hammer, which is also his penis, suddenly assassination sounds like a great idea to the Doc.
His song of new purpose, "Brand New Day", followed by his dream of recreating the climax from the Buffy episode, "Fear, Itself", with Hammer as Gachnar, wraps up part two.
Leave it to Joss and his brothers and friends to come up with a musical where we root for a mad scientist whose evil is genuine--as is his love for the Lovely Damsel. Does that trump the need to please a Thoroughbred of Sin, even if it means knocking off the least super of superheroes since Puma Man? Well, that's what part three is for. Maybe she'll be evil in the end, or just smarter than the two main guys. Now that's an ending.
Just a reminder that this musical will have its own panel late Friday night, but it's up against the major awards at the Eisners. I just wonder if the cast will be at the late-night showing, If so, it will be wall-to-wall fans there.
We should have seen this coming, but it was still cool
Well, we have seen all three parts of the Dr. Horrible saga...the first internet musical that also could have made a good comic book. This is exactly what this was..a comic book story with music.We were all right up there with the Doc, who was all set to take down Captain Hammer, who is what would happen if Fox News invented a super hero. The doc was all set to show us the truth, of how the world really was, and how he just might be a hero after all.
Well...let's just say the Doc has to deal with how it all turned out, especially with the points he did prove. I don't want to reveal the ending, but it's something that wouldn't surprise those who are familiar with Joss' work.
The third part centers on Captain Tool, I mean Hammer, about to get a statue for helping the homeless. He's the darling of the media, while fans wear shirts with his face to show their devotion. We also learn that David Fury should have been in Mamma Mia instead of Pierce Brosnan (as far as vocal abilities are concerned). He and Marti Noxon also make an ideal L-A TV anchor team, probably the noon news. Anywho, Captain Hammer makes his big speech about his great deed, and his sexual relationship with Penny, then sings a song about how everyone can be a hero (but not quite like him). As the audience waves their arms in time with the tune, Doc Horrible interrupts with his freeze ray..which actually works. He gives his song about how people are like sheep, and that the world isn't all sweetness and light. While it's not as upbeat as the Captain, his lyrics are much better. This all leads to a showdown where shocking truths are revealed, and a new day has begun.
Again, I won't say what happens, but I have this question for Dr. Horrible, after all that has happened...
Well, one look at him at the very last second, and you'll know the answer.
It's a brilliant ending to something that just may revolutionize the internet's role in entertainment, or at least get the process going.
All three parts will be shown at Comic-Con next Friday, and I'm guessing it's going to be packed. It may even be cooler than the MST3K reunion. It's already cooler than Mamma Mia!