I saw Les Mis for the first time on stage in San Francisco when I was twelve, and a second time a few years ago in Toronto. I read the abridged version of the novel when I was fourteen; I've never managed the unabridged, but I've heard it's tediously detailed, so I'm okay with that.
I liked the movie; I loved the innovation of having the actors sing live, rather than record in a studio and then sync along. It allows the actors to emote in the moment and control the tempo and phrasing. But I think it also caused some collateral damage, because it's so new and fancy, as an idea, that the cameras tend to linger on faces a lot longer than they need to. Watching Fantine suffer through I Dreamed A Dream was moving for about thirty seconds, and then it began to become a little tedious. And they did it a lot. God On High and Empty Chairs Empty Tables got the same treatment, when they could have been conveyed more effectively with intercuts of the barricades and the wrecked cafe. It felt like the film began with this epic vision, this amazing imagination, and then as soon as it settled into itself, its scope just...shrunk down.
Mind you, it was still splendid. I particularly liked the bishop, who it turns out as I suspected originated the role of Jean Valjean on the stage. Hugh Jackman is a pleasure to watch, as is Anne Hathaway. And while I'm not a huge fan of Russel Crowe, I think he did the part of Javert credit.
I do hope the Music Box does a sing along version at some point.