My wife hates musicals. I have always liked them; I grew up with the usual servings of The Sound of Music, Grease, Footloose, Phantom of the Paradise and The Rocky Horror Picture Show. But I have never found a real Broadway musical that I have connected with. I have always found them to be pretentious and very overblown. So when Tom Hooper announced he was remaking Les Miserables again (there have been loads of film versions) I can’t say I was excited. It did feature Hugh Jackman in the lead role, but I didn’t think even the multi-talented Jackman could make me sit through it. And I was in a bit of Anne Hathaway overload as well from recent years and the prospect of the film just did not motivate me to give it a try.
Based on the novel by Victor Hugo, Les Miserables is the story of Jean Valjean (Hugh Jackman), a prisoner in 1815 who was imprisoned for nineteen years for stealing a loaf of bread to for his starving family. Released by the ruthless Inspector Javert (Russell Crowe) and on parole, Valjean falls on hard times but eventually jumps parole and takes on a new identity. Now a respected and well off mayor, Valjean swears to protect the daughter of an unfortunate prostitute named Fantine (Anne Hathaway) while trying to avoid capture by Javert and trying to survive amidst the backdrop of the June Rebellion.
When I sat down and put in the Blu-ray for Les Miserables, the very first thing that grabbed my attention was the visuals. The first scenes of Valjean and scores of other prisoners pulling huge ropes to bring a tall ship into dry dock was just staggering. As the film progressed, the visuals in every scene were blowing my mind. But what I found was, as I was gaping at the gorgeous picture before me, I also got caught up in Valjean’s journey. I think a lot of that can be attributed to Jackman and his enigmatic presence, but it really did spread out amongst the entire cast. Tom Hooper’s decision to have all the singing done on camera was a real winner for me too as it gave the actors a chance to really convey the characters emotions at the moment they were singing instead of having to concentrate on syncing with a track. The end result for me was an engaging story, unbelievable acting from all involved, and one of the most stunning looking movies since the days of David Lean. Even if you are not a big fan of musicals, you must see this Blu-ray to believe it.
As I said, this Blu-ray from Universal is a game changer. Colors are insanely vibrant, detail is astounding, clarity is crystal clear and the sound was booming and fully immersive. This is the new disc to beat for any future Blu-ray releases. And the movie far exceeded my expectations as well.
Available March 22, 2013 on Blu-ray and DVD.