Do you hear the critics sing? They're singing the song of (mostly) happy men (and women). A flood of first reviews of the new film adaptation of the Broadway musical "Les Miserables" (based, of course, on the classic novel by Victor Hugo) just hit the web, many of them quite excited at the results of the nearly three hour film about the 1832 June Rebellion. Interestingly, most of the most positive reviews come from British critics, some of whom gave the film four or five stars and all but threw roses as the feet of director Tom Hooper and stars Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe, Eddie Redmayne, Amanda Seyfried, and especially Anne Hathaway. American writers were much more mixed — including severely skeptical critics from both Hollywood trades, Variety and The Hollywood Reporter.
In what could be another ominous sign for the film, if you take a look at our Criticwire Network, you'll see that our first nine contributors have given the film a C+ average, with just 1 A and 8 Cs. So we may yet witness a full-scale critical rebellion against the film, full of flag waving and chanting, and artfully stacking furniture into barricades and whatnot. But for now, here are the largely positive first reviews of "Les Miz."
"'Les Miserables' is a five-star movie musical extravaganza that hums with the spirit of Victor Hugo's classic novel and the landmark stage show upon which it's based."
"Reaches such a climax with Hathaway's show-stopping performance of 'I Dreamed a Dream' that simply nothing that comes after it can live up to its excellence."
"For all its expected highs, the adaptation has been managed with more gusto than grace; at the end of the day, this impassioned epic too often topples beneath the weight of its own grandiosity."
"Not only definitive, but utterly cinematic."
"A powerful and unforgettable showstopper of a film."
"The first hour of the film maintains a fresh, brisk pace. The remainder (and there’s lots of it) lumbers along."
"Middle-brow fare, hovering between theater and cinema, sociology and art, but not entirely successful in any of these areas."
"A musical worthy of Hollywood history and one of the year’s best films."
"There are large, emotionally susceptible segments of the population ready to swallow this sort of thing, but that doesn't mean it's good."
"Ragged around the edges, this nevertheless rings with all the emotion and power of the source and provides a new model for the movie musical."
"I feel like saying I hate this movie. I really don’t. I was just bored out of my mind by its lack of anything real."
"The opposite of a miserable experience."
"By the end, you feel like a piñata on the dancefloor: empty, in bits, the victim of prolonged assault by killer pipes."
"Come the wrenching, rousing finale, there won’t be a dry eye in the house."
"An epic story of love, death and disappointment."
"God help me but I really fucking love the ending with the banners waving and the barricades up and the proud and defiant crowd song 'Can You Hear The People Sing?'"
"There’s something that makes me uncomfortable about the picture."