You will pardon me as this is neither a proper film review or a 6 Word Review (for the latter, you can follow my Twitter at https://twitter.com/#!/EvilDrBok 😛 ) , but sometimes one gets the urge to just go write something about something you’ve recently seen. In this case, it’s the 1998 non-musical version of Les Miserables; the one starring Liam Neeson and Geoffrey Rush.
For starters, the movie’s fairly decent. From what I’ve read, it is a heavily condensed adaptation of Victor Hugo‘s classic novel. This shouldn’t come as a surprise as the novel’s a pretty long one. If one wanted to adapt the entire novel, then a mini-series would be the better medium. Still (based on the synopsis I read from Wiki, and from the musical which I’ve recently watched), the important events of the novel are present. Also, theme of redemption is pretty much intact. Finally, I’d have to admit that Liam Neeson is definitely THE ultimate father figure in cinema (watch Taken, and to an extent, Batman Begins for proof).
For the film’s weaknesses, there is the risk of calling the characters one-dimensional: Valjean’s mercy and compassion is absolute, and Javert‘s ruthlessness is uncompromising. They’re attributes are such absolutes that one could almost say they’re cardboard cut-out characters. If this is a weakness, it’s probably the source material’s shortcoming. But then, the characters from The Count of Monte Cristo could also be considered as cardboard cut-outs, but that doesn’t diminish one’s enjoyment of the novel (not to mention that Monte Cristo is one of the most beloved novels ever written, next to The Lord of the Rings). The characterization of the characters are enough of what the plot demands of them. Besides, it isn’t like Valjean and Javert did something completely out of character during the story. I am content.
Final Verdict: it is not a perfect film. It’s probably a good companion piece to those who want to know Les Miserables in a nutshell. For now, stick to the musical version, or wait for the film adaptation of the musical to be released at the end of the year.