Friday, November 9, 2012

Les Miserables the Movie: And We Have Trailer!

We interrupt the ongoing Les Miserables retrospective to bring you the following news: a new trailer of the movie has finally been released!

Well, technically, it was released weeks ago.  First in Japan, then in Europe (in the UK, it was released with the James Bond Skyfall movie) and Australia, but nowhere in the United States or other parts of the world.  If we wanted to see the trailer, our only options were to watch a bootleg or to content ourselves with a 30-second television spot that is just one-fifth the length.  Then somehow the trailer got posted to multiple media sites, only for Universal to yank them down.  Then Universal gave in and said that due to the "unforeseen trailer leak," it would post the International trailer on an official site.  Um, thanks?  How long would we have had to wait otherwise?

Nonetheless, the trailer is up, and you can watch for yourself.  My thoughts are below.


Overall, I really liked it, and it's making me more excited to see the movie (if that were even possible).  This time, instead of just hearing "I Dreamed a Dream," it is nice to also hear bits of "Castle on a Cloud," "One Day More," and "Do You Hear the People Sing (Reprise)?".  This means that we get to hear from other members of the cast, most notably Russell Crowe.

How Does Crowe Sound?  Not bad, though all he does is sing his lines from "One Day More."  As we know, the true test will come with "Stars."  Crowe sings in a deep voice that is a bit higher-pitched than his normal speaking voice.  He sounds strong, not unlike Norm Lewis in the role.  He seems to pass the "Gerard Butler test" by managing not to embarrass himself.  Though to be fair, Butler isn't a horrible singer; he was just no match for the Phantom role.  

But Never Mind That, Because Redmayne and Barks Sound Fabulous!  I like how they have been showcasing more of Samantha Barks's role as time goes on.  As nice as it has been for the producers to acknowledge that Cosette is the heart of the story, not just a means to an end, they can't exactly get around the fact that Eponine is a big role.  So in this trailer, we see her sing her lines from "One Day More," look jealous as she tells Marius about Cosette, look teary-eyed and lovelorn as she watches Marius, and hastily hiding behind a stone wall.  Despite singing on set for hours, Barks sounds as flawless as she does on stage.  And each time I hear Eddie Redmayne's voice, I fall in love a little bit more.  He only sings a couple lines from "One Day More," but that's enough.  

Lots More Aaron Tveit as Enjolras.  Aaron Tveit was practically invisible throughout most of the promotional process.  Part of it was no doubt due to his lack of a big name, and the other due to his character's secondary status.  But in this trailer, even though we don't hear him sing, he's everywhere.  Mostly looking manly and resolved while facing off against a throng of French soldiers.  At one point we hear him scream: "To the barricades!"  Can't wait to hear him sing. 

And Lots More CGI.  It's clear that between the time the international trailer was first released and this current one (as well as the 30-second U.S. commercial), the CGI was added to certain scenes.  For instance, we now see convict Valjean pulling a massive ship (which looks sideways to me) to shore, and much more water whipping up around Javert than in earlier shots of the same scene.  Knowing how the scenes looked earlier, I can't help but think the ship looks a little fake, but that could just be because I saw it for one whole second in the trailer.  There is also a CGI shot of the city of Paris.  And from tweets during production, there should be other carefully placed uses of CGI.

And Finally the Thenardiers!  Because I first saw them in a bootleg of the Japanese trailer, then in some magazine photo spreads, what Helena Bonham Carter and Sasha Baron Cohen look like is no longer a mystery to me.  However, this (and the 30-second spot as well?) represents one of the first times we've seen them in a trailer.  Thank God they didn't try to squeeze Bonham Carter into a fat suit, or CGI her to make her look fat.  Instead, she just has a crazy hairdo and maybe a bit too much face makeup?  Looking at her, you wonder what Fantine was thinking when she left Cosette in her care.  (In the book, it seems logical, but in the stage show, you never understand.)  For some reason, her hair is a very bleached blonde, while Baron Cohen's hair is red.  An interesting color combination that somehow produced the brown-haired Eponine.

Other Observations.  First, even as long-haired Fantine at the factory, Anne Hathaway already looks thinner than I'm used to seeing her.  Maybe it's the dress?  Her expression after she is first let go is heart rending.  Second, even though the script prepared me for it, there is still more dialogue in this film than I expected.  I hope it doesn't create exactly the effect Hooper and company didn't want: characters unnaturally shift from speaking to singing and then back again.  We shall see.  Finally, cutest moment in the trailer: "Cosette?  Mademoiselle."                 

Negatives.  The negatives are more trailer-specific than movie-specific.  I felt that the overall presentation, while effective, was a bit corny in places.  For instance, the opening scene where live Cosette morphs into the famous image -- it feels a little forced and okay, we get it.  That little girl is the same girl on all the album covers.  It doesn't need to be spelled out to diehards like me, and at the same time, I think someone completely new to the musical would find it a bit off putting.  Another corny moment was the fast forward between young Cosette and adult Cosette.  Oh look, little Cosette is hiding behind... a man passing adult Cosette.  Hmm.  Also, some of Crowe's exclamations sound silly.  "Jean Valjean!" he screams at one point as he pursues on horseback, like any frustrated villain screaming the hero's name.

Also, while everyone basically sounds good, I'm a little worried that Seyfried and Redmayne have a little trouble syncing during their duet in "One Day More."  It sounds as though one ends before the other.  However, that could just be a misperception on my part, or a function of the trailer.

Overall.  This trailer gives a much wider impression of what the story is about.  It is about Fantine's downfall, yes, but also about so much more.  And after many months of wondering, we finally get to see what that is.  Less than 50 days to go.

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