Posts Tagged ‘ Anne Hathaway ’

Les Misérables (2012) – 4/5

Les

Pretty good, emotional adaptation of the musical featuring great visuals, solid acting, and some of the most exciting cinematic scenes I’ve seen in a movie in a long time. The film is definitely a heavy musical, though, as the far majority of it is sung rather than spoken, to its detriment at times. I also could have gone without the live singing; it’s a nice gimmick that certainly heightened many of the film’s individual performances, but it only really sounds good when done in group. Whenever it’s just one person singing, it’s awkward and hollow and fake; what 48fps is to video, this kind of singing is to audio in a way. See The Hobbit. It’s not as terrible as 48fps, but it’s definitely off-putting, which, combined with the strange closeups necessary to justify such close singing, makes for some rather bizarrely composed scenes that don’t always work. You do become accustomed to it after a while, but it’s definitely an acquired taste.

The acting here is really the strongest part of the film, though. The music is good, sure, especially the catchier tunes, such as the sad “I Dreamed a Dream” song, and the exciting “Do You Hear the People Sing?”, and the hilarious, hilarious “Master of the House” that came at just the right moment and had me in stitches. Helena Bonham Carter and Sacha Baron Cohen are so funny here, stealing the show every time their two characters are on-screen. Baron Cohen is very limited even as a comic actor, but he’s good here, even if he is a bit hammy at times. But so, so funny. The real standout though was Russell Crowe. Who knew the man could sing? And he’s so good here, so convincing. Not a false moment in his entire performance.

Everyone else is pretty good too. Hugh Jackman looks like complete hell, to his credit, as does Anne Hathaway who, yes, is okay and sings her song well and full of sadness, but doesn’t have all that much screen time. I particularly liked Samantha Barks who played Éponine, though; she’s the one who falls in love with the weird-looking red-head guy who’s in love with Amanda Seyfried’s character. I had a feeling right away that the girl was a theater actress and, lo and behold, she’s a Broadway veteran. She’s very good here, though a bit “much” at times, probably because she’s used to having to exaggerate her emotions for the stage and wasn’t given proper direction telling her otherwise, but she also has arguably the saddest, most emotional scenes in the film. And man can the girl sing. She’s the heart of the film, in a way. There are also smaller performances by lesser known actors that are really good, like the little kid with the blond hair and the cute little girl with the big bright blue eyes who plays young Cosette. The only actor I didn’t much care for was Amanda Seyfried, who has a nice voice but seemed stiff and out-of-place here. Everyone else, though, is top-notch. Very, very well cast film.

Overall, a pretty damn good film, weird live action singing and all. The film definitely feels long at times, and some scenes are less interesting than others, but as a whole, the thing works a lot more often than it doesn’t, and some of the stuff that works really, really works. From the beginning shot to the end, the film is beautiful and creative visually, and some moments, especially the **SPOILERS** epic “Do You Hear the People Sing?” tune the young revolutionaries go into during in the middle of the parade, **END SPOILERS** are downright brilliant. Just pure cinema, through and through, and, as an added bonus, somewhat culturally relevant. The story is big and epic, yet not as epic as it could be as the film does tend to treat everything with the same level of importance, whether it be a romance or a revolution. But whatever: it’s a musical, not a sociopolitical piece.

The thing has some of the highest highs I’ve seen in a movie in a while, and is ultimately very enjoyable for the most part, and very well acted; a lot of hard work was put into it, and it shows, from the acting down to the cinematography. A very good film; long, but enjoyable, especially if you’re a fan of musicals. Strongly recommended. Oh, and a warning: the songs will get stuck in your head. “Master of the house, keeper of the zoo…”

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The Dark Knight Rises (2012) – 4.5/5

Dark, choppy, but relatively well crafted finale of a series I was never a huge fan of but nonetheless enjoyed outside the hype rabid idiot fanboys continue to heap on anything Christopher Nolan. Just shut up. Morons. He’s good, but he’s not that good, nor is his filmmaking style all that original or particularly noteworthy. He’s above average, sure, but he’s hardly great. Appreciate his films for what they are, moderately intelligent pop art, and stop giving him and his work more credit than it deserves. And, again, shut up.

Luckily, for whatever reason, the idiot masses have been rather split on this film, thus reducing the persistent over-hyped squawking long enough for me to watch and enjoy the thing on its own merits. Sure, it has some significant narrative problems: the story is convoluted and overly reliant on coincidence, a Nolan staple, with the first half being far better than the second, the editing is once again choppy and poorly paced at times, though not nearly as badly as it was in The Dark Knight, and some of the characters are kind of pointless or not as fleshed out as they could have been. But it doesn’t matter, cause the thing is still pretty damn good.

The film is well made, well acted, and, despite being almost three hours long, never boring. Some of the action scenes are great, especially the one at the beginning which almost gave me a heart attack, Christ. I wonder how much of that they actually shot and how much of it they did in post. Very cool. And the whole build up to **SPOILERS** Bane’s brutal fight with Batman in the middle of the film **END SPOILERS** was one of the darkest things I’ve ever seen in a mainstream superhero film. And so well crafted, though, again, totally ridiculous and overly reliant on coincidence. But man, that was some bleak, heavy stuff.

Unfortunately, that bleak moment is when things started to falter a bit. The stadium scene with Bane **SPOILERS** where he makes everything explode because he and his team of merry men somehow convinced hundreds of construction workers and such to mix explosives into concrete (huh?) with no one suspecting a thing until literally 10 seconds before it all went off **END SPOILERS** felt wrong somehow, like all the energy the film had so painstakingly been collecting in the last hour and a half  for this one moment just vanished into nothingness. All that build up, only for the film to hit a brick wall and fall over, dead. And the crappy CGI didn’t help matters much either.

Bane’s whole speech where he explains his motivations didn’t make much sense either. He **SPOILERS** did it to free Gotham? So why keep them imprisoned in an anarchistic hell hole? And why keep the bomb active and set to go off in a few months regardless of what anyone does? Why the death wish? **END SPOILERS** Maybe there’s s a good explanation for everything he does, something to do with the first film and the Shadow Order or whatever the hell, but it just didn’t make sense to me here.

The film does pick up again in the last hour with a series of crazy action scenes that are somewhat implausible but, again, who cares? They’re cool. And the whole **SPOILERS** Bruce Wayne in the underground prison segment **END SPOILERS** was choppy and silly at first, but became kind of interesting by the end. I thought the film had really gone off the rails at that point, but hats off to Nolan and co. for pulling the thing back on its feet and really hitting it out of the park. I even liked the ending, though it is a touch over the top.

Overall, though it may be hard to tell, I enjoyed the heck of this film, flaws and all. It’s deep and dark and well written/directed, and much better than it has any right to be given the silly subject matter. Sure, it does take itself too seriously at times, which is a similar issue I had with The Dark Knight, though this one embraces its comic book roots a lot more with its over reliance on coincidence and implausible or otherwise ridiculous scenarios. And the acting is pretty good, especially from Anne Hathaway who is great here despite not being all that necessary.

Tom Hardy is okay too, having the arguably hardest role in the film given his having to wear a mask throughout and not really being able to express much emotion as a result. He did sound a touch like Sean Connery at times, too, which was an odd choice. And I loved the cameo **SPOILERS** Cillian Murphy has in this. Perfect. I wonder if he was supposed to be the Scarecrow here too? **END SPOILERS** Who knows.

So, yeah, a really enjoyable film, and a solid ending to a dark and demented and somewhat overrated trilogy by a filmmaker whose talent I appreciate but don’t consider to be as amazingly and brilliantly great as that of many other filmmakers. But, for a film whose basic premise is that of a man who dresses up as a bat and goes around fighting crime, it’s well worth watching. One of the better films I’ve seen this year.

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