I have never seen Les Mis performed on stage in any way, unless you count the time in 2009 when I watched a ghetto videorecording of the production my old high school put on in like 2003. My experience with (and love for) Les Mis comes entirely from listening to the songs on CD or mp3 or whatever - international cast version, thanks. So the reason I went to see Les Mis at the theater was so I could get the experience of actually seeing what was happening instead of just listening to it. And I loved it!
The best performances were Anne Hathaway (I KNOW. But OH MY GOSH her I Dreamed a Dream alone was worth the price of admission. I had people tell me beforehand that it was amazing and it still blew me away.), Marius, and Eponine. Marius surprised me - the actor who plays him is, well, an actor, and I've seen him in other things so I wasn't expecting much in the singing department. But he was great. I also thought Hugh Jackman was wonderful as Jean Valjean, especially in the first Who Am I song. Wow.
Now. Russell Crowe. Let's talk. Jeremy thought Crowe was so bad that he almost got up and walked out of the theater. I thought he was fine. I thought he did a good job as that character. Could they have cast someone stronger? Almost certainly. But I've made my peace with it.
What I have NOT made my peace with is why the movie cut out the single most beautiful harmony in all of creation (well, at least all of Les Mis) - at the very end when Fantine appears to Jean Valjean, Eponine is supposed to be there too and they sing a lovely harmony together. The movie cut that out and had the Bishop pick up some of it at the very end but it wasn't enough. Hmph.
Anyway, great movie. If you like the music, go see it.
Part B: thoughts on the experience of seeing Les Miserables.
When the movie started, there were quite a few Emiratis in attendance. Of course I knew it was possible they were legitimate fans of Les Mis, but I also know that some people want to see a movie at x time and they will buy a ticket for whatever movie that happens to be. So it wasn't surprising when after the first few minutes of Russell Crowe and Hugh Jackman singing, some of the audience members got up and left. Because if I sat down to watch a movie starring those two and it turned out to be a singing-only movie, I might be a little surprised, too.
The movie was edited. There was one noticeably abrupt cut in the film during a certain scene and it sped right up to I Dreamed a Dream. I have to wonder what the editors' standards are - how do they decide what stays and what goes?
Of course, out of the whole theater, we ended up sitting next to the one person who thought it was a good idea to bring their 1-year-old to the movie. I had to try really hard not to let that bother me. The kid was babbling and squawking and it was equal parts cute and SHUT UP. They left halfway through.