Matt DeGroot’s review published on Letterboxd:
I dreamed a dream this film was better.
I truly had high hopes for this film adaptation of the epic musical but came away from Tom Hooper's take on it completely underwhelmed and at times extremely bored. Sure, the film is handsome to look at and Hooper has assembled an impressive cast but the proceedings never earn the enormous emotional weight that is constantly being pushed on the audience.
New characters are introduced throughout the first half of the film in rapid fire succession and Hooper expects us to devote our hearts to all of them but in almost no instance is this actually earned. Thrusting a sad, down-on-his-luck person at me alone doesn't make me cry for him. You have to build up that and that's something the screenplay never does.
Even scenes that include huge, revolutionary battles fail to light the spirits in any tangible, cinematic way. Everything just falls kind of flat except in moments where the impressive musical score takes over and finally lets things take flight.
Props must certainly be given to Anne Hathaway, Eddie Redmayne, Samantha Barks, Sacha Baron Cohen, and Helena Bonham Carter for delivering their songs with heartfelt perfection. And as much as I admire Hugh Jackman for his wide-ranging musical talents, he suffers most here for landing a role that relies heavily on talk-singing. I have long held the belief that operatic talk-singing (where characters deliver all dialogue through song) is perfectly wonderful on stage but comes across as ridiculous in closeup on the big screen. That belief held true with 'Les Mis' and made Jackman (as well as Russell Crowe) very hard to watch throughout the film.