Les Miserables

 

Les Miserables

Let me start by saying that this is not just a play turned into a movie, it’s a convergence of movie, musical  play, opera, art, emotion, tragedy, and song.  This is the best 2 hours and 38 minutes you could spend this year, and it was not just one movie, it was six great movies in one.  Where other directors shamelessly drag you to a movie three or four or even 12 times to tell a simple story and collect ridiculous profits.  Director Tom Hooper does an amazing job of keeping you in awe of the set design and scenery, entertained by the music and the pageantry, destroyed emotionally by the story, and then your’re finally resurrected before the film is done.  Les Miserables the movie is based on the musical written by Alain Boublil and Claude-Michel Schönberg, whose original production was based on the French novel written in 1862 by Victor Hugo.  With the screen play adapted by Boubil, Schönberg, William Nicholson, and Herbert Kretzmer.  In this amazing movie you will see a slave taken from rags to riches, and a thief lifted from Hell by a generous man of the cloth.  You will see an innocent woman’s soul cast into darkness, and see her child spared a life of misery, while other children pay the ultimate price of death.   You see the plight of an un-yielding military man that breaks his ultimate vow.  And finally you see the true face of the Heroes of the French Revolution.  There was a perfect cast of characters assembled for this film, especially the casting of the mega star Hugh Jackman, who plays the lead character Jean Valjean and gives us a riveting performance.  I was so impressed with his singing voice and the passion and anguish in his face, as he projected so much emotion.  He is a true star of stage and screen, its no wonder he did Broadway musicals like Oklahoma and the Boy from Oz.  This usually goes unknown to most that he posses stage talent because he is known for movies like X-men, Van Helsing, and Real Steal.  But Jackman’s performance in Les Miserables makes you forget that this guy is Wolverine a comic book superhero.  But as great of a performance that Hugh Jackman gives, it is Anne Hathaway that steals the show.  Anne’s performance as Fantine is one of the greatest movie performances in the last 20 years.  Her singing voice is as noteworthy as those of any great opera singer, but she has one distinct advantage which is her acting ability.  The emotions she portrayed, the anguish on her face, the distress in her voice, and her plummet into darkness, were all Oscar worthy.  She should be a shoe in for best actress, even though she only did a supporting role.  There are only two flaws in this film, one would be Anne Hathaway is not in it long enough, and second was the casting of Russell Crowe as Inspector Javert.  Don’t get me wrong Crowe did a great job of acting and being the ultimate antagonist for Jean Valjean, but his singing voice was nasally and irritating, you could tell he was pushing his voice to its limits.  This would have been a near perfect movie with a better singing actor playing his part.  But those are my only two complaints about this film. and rest of the supporting cast also gave amazing performances especially Eddie Redmayne who played Marius Pontmercy and Amanda Seyfried who played Cosette the daughter of the ill fated Fantine.  These two star crossed lovers will make you believe in love at first sight, and how one moment in time can change your life.  There was a certain innocence and naivety that they both possessed and they were able to make you remember the first time you fell in Love.  And with every true Love story there is a tragic third wheel that loses that love, and that part was played amazingly by Samantha Barks who played Éponine the daughter of the Inn Keepers.  All three of these actors did this movie turned musical justice, not only with their singing voices, but also the emotions of joy, anger, happiness, and despair for a lost love, that they brought to the screen.  These three were the rays of light that cast hope into the darkness of this film, and they were in many ways the salvation for all the tragedies and pitfalls that befell their friends and relatives.  And for a little humor at times to give your eyes a break from watering, enter the Inn Keepers, Sacha Baron Cohen and Helena Bonham Carter.  That’s right Borat and Bellatrix (evil sorceress from Harry Potter) make a surprise performance as two sneaky, thieving, conniving Inn keepers.  These two provided great comic relief as Thénardier the Master of the house and his wife Madame Thénardier.  They are the guardians of young Cosette played by Isabelle Allen who gives a great emotional singing performance for such a young girl.  You can tell right away from the way the Thénardier’s pick pockets and rob their guests, that they are one of the reasons that Fantine has to struggle so much to keep her daughter safe.  Even after Fantine’s death when Jean Valjean goes to rescue the young Cosette, these two slimy characters sell her to him.  Sacha and Helena do a great job through out the film when they pop in and out with their sliminess, and you can’t help but to love to hate them.  There are other great supporting cast members that brings to life the French Revolution and all the young men that died for freedom.  Young actors like, Aaron Tveit who plays EnjolrasKillian Donnelly who plays  Combeferre, as well as George Blagden, Fra Fee, Alistair Brammer, Hugh Skinner, Gabriel Vick, Iwan Lewis, Stuart Neal.  And last but not least the youngest,  Daniel Huttlestone that plays Gavroche the streetwise urchin that helps the revolutionaries by exposing Inspector Javert’s plot, and delivers the letter from Marius that eventually reaches his love Cosette.  Little Daniel gives a great singing and acting performance and with his French accent, he reminds me of the young boy in the musical Oliver, which coincidentally he was in playing the part of “Nipper”.  Little Daniel also played Gavroche in the original musical production of Les Miserables so this part was easy for him to portray.  And there are also many other notable performances by cast members, just too many to call by name, performances by the street people, the ladies in the factory, the slaves, the townspeople, and many more.  But one notable cameo performance was that from Colm Wilkinson who plays Bishop Myriel the Bishop of Digne, the man of the cloth who gives Jean Valjean shelter in his church and a second chance to become a good man.  Mr Wilkinson actually played the part of Jean Valjean in the original Broadway and West End musical production of Les miserables.  And there is another cameo from Frances Ruffelle who played the original Éponine in those same musical productions, but this time she plays one of the prostitutes.  Many time you will hear people say that most books are better than the movie, or they can never make a great stage play into a movie, I say after seeing this film this is not one of those cases.  There is no way even the grandest stage can bring to life this incredible piece of work to an audience.  You could not capture the same opening scene of hundreds of slaves pulling a large ship into repair by long heavy ropes.  You could not capture the dirtiness of the streets and the despair of the people inflicted with the Black Plague.  Nor the villages, the factory, the church, the bridge that Javert fell from, the firing of the muskets and the cannons, and the thousands of people that assembled for the French Revolution barricade scene.  So for all you doubters that have seen the original production, I suggest you shed your doubt and go and see this film.  And for those of you that have never seen Les Miserables this will be a joyous day for you to have seen this masterpiece put on to the big screen.  You will be added to the roster of people that can say they experienced a truly great cinematic experience in their lifetime.  You will be among the people that can say they saw Gone with the wind, Casablanca, Jaws, Star Wars, the Exorcist, ET, and Avatar when they played for the first time ever in the cinema and set a new standard for movies, you will be part of that history.  One final word this is a musical so expect for most of the movie to be sung, some people are surprised by this once the movie starts.  But if you have seen any of the other great musicals like Annie, Grease, Singing in the rain, Moulin Rouge, the King and I, Fame, Fiddler on the Roof, the Sound of Music, or even Little Shop of Horrors then you will love this film.

by Anthony Hombrebailador

If you would like to read more movie reviews and read great Afro Latin articles about music, dance, food, and culture, click here and subscribe to Sabor & Style Magazine for free!

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Batman the Dark Knight Rise scores a B-

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I know what you are thinking, how could anyone not agree that Batman the Dark Knight Rises, is not a great move? It has everything action, suspense, romance, betrayal, and even patriotism. I would agree you are right; it has everything that makes a movie like this a great movie. Great for all to enjoy and feel good after they walk out of the theater. It has all of these things except for the one prime element, where is Batman? First of all let me point out that almost all of the stars of this film and most of the production crew are not American, and the movie was not shot by an American company and probably not in America.  The last time I checked Batman was created here in America, so why is DC comics letting the Britt’s put their paws into one of our Icons, and in my opinion ruining his image.  I for one am sick of these made for everyone comic book or science fiction movies. These movies are based on something that’s not for everyone, because not everyone reads comics or Sci-Fi.  And some of these same people don’t even watch Anime or cartoons. So why should this movie have the things removed that make Batman appealing to kids and kids at heart, just so the general public can enjoy Batman on a generic level. Where were Batman’s cool gadgets in the Batbelt? Where was the Batmobile? I didn’t see the Batarang used once; he didn’t glide with his Batcape once. He didn’t use the smoke bombs to disappear once. Would you go watch a Wolverine movie and be happy if he just boxed the whole movie and never used his Adamantium claws?  How about go watch an Iron Man movie and Tony Stark just wears the armor but walks around and never flies or fires his repulsors. He just smacks people around, oh and gets stabbed through the armor with a regular knife, just like what happened to this Batman.  Come on really? his outfit is supposed to be bullet proof, but he can get stabbed with a regular knife and by a girl no less.  I am tired of Hollywood castrating our Heroes so the general public can all enjoy the movie so it’s more believable.  Like this current James Bond is a prime example of a more generic appealing to all audiences hero.  Where is the hidden laser in his watch, or exploding cuff links, or a ink pen gun? And no car that becomes a sub or a plane, he is basically a chiseled abs, CIA agent with access to nice cars and an expense account, how is he James Bond?  But back to this Quasi-Batman movie, let’s talk about the plot, evil guy takes a device built to help mankind and turns it into weapon.  Didn’t they do that with the microwave device in the first movie Batman Begins? Next, lets release all the criminals and take over Gotham, and takeout the bridges so no one can get in or out.  Didn’t they also do that in the first movie but it was Arkham Asylum that they released the prisoners from. Next let’s plant a bomb (that originally was a device designed for good) and give the detonator to some unknown person that will set it off if the people try and leave the city, thus leaving their fate to live or die up to them.  Didn’t they do that in the Batman 2 the Dark Knight returns? But that time it was two boats that had bombs and either boat could destroy the other if the people decided to push the button.  So to me it’s obvious that they had no real story-line going into this film and no imagination.  Now let’s talk about stupid plot elements, what in the heck were they thinking with the stupid pit scene?  Batman, the escape artist, detective, inventor, scientist, gymnast, Olympic level athlete, etc.  He can’t make a grappling hook and attach it to that rope that was around his waist and just throw it to the top of the pit?  And a kid could make the jump on the first try but Batman couldn’t?  And why were those men in the pit not working together to climb out of it, they were obviously helping to train him to get out of the pit. And where in the heck were the guards? And I thought it was a dark pit, it looked well lit to me, the pit was BS.  Another big problem for me with this film is changes to original storyline. This new Robin protégé starting off as a cop with the actual name of Robin that he chooses not to use, give me a break. That’s as bad as the first X-men movie making Rogue 16 and not having Ms Marvel’s stolen powers, so no super strength or flight for her. The original Robin got the name because he was in the Circus with his family the Flying Graysons.  He was given the name Robin because once he swooped in like a Robin and saved his dad from a fall. So no circus trapeze training equals a non-acrobatic, non-fearless Robin in later films. Robin is supposed to be able to jump off of building and swing like Spiderman across the city, he doesn’t have the glide cape like Batman so he relies on acrobatics and agility.  Batman Begins was a great movie and this series had potential to become a truly great Batman series, but they came up short in the second film and completely failed in this final attempt to tie it all together.  In the end this movie could have been a regular cop or military espionage movie. He did not have to be in Batman’s suit since he didn’t use any of the cool gadgets anyway. He didn’t have to have the Bat Helicopter to fly around the city and winch the bomb out to the ocean and blow himself up to save the city. That could have been done with any coast guard helicopter and its winch.  And every vehicle that the Batman I know owns, has remote and autopilot functions.  So he blowing himself up would also not have been an option.  Another major problem for me was how weak Batman was, Bane kicked his butt and showed him mercy and threw him in that stupid pit.  So he gets out of the pit and basically goes up against Bane again and was getting his butt kicked again until Catwoman saved him.  And aside from him not being able to fight, he was also stupid.  How could he not prove that he didn’t make those trades that cost him his company.  How could he not know immediately after sleeping with Talia that she was up to something, I knew it right after it happened.  Especially because he signed over control of that weapon to her, which also was a big give away that she was going to betray him.  Batman’s security systems should be un penetrable, his hideouts should not be discoverable, and for petesake Alfred would never abandon Bruce Wayne, and the list of inconsistencies goes on and on.  So this was not a Batman movie to me this was a remake of the Peacekeeper with George Clooney and Nicole Kidman.  Just another nuclear scare lets stop the terrorist’s movie with a little romance thrown in.  I am not saying don’t go see it because it sucks. It’s a good movie but it’s not a Batman movie.  Want to see a great Batman movie watch Batman Under the Red Hood or Batman Year One. Also any of the Batman the Animated Series from the 90’s, or any of the Justice League Unlimited series released in the last few years, then you will see what Batman is all about.     fin

by Anthony Hombrebailador

If you would like to read more movie reviews and read great Afro Latin articles about music, dance, food, and culture, click here and subscribe to Sabor & Style Magazine for free!
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