For a musical Les Miserables attracted a lot of attention to itself for a very long time. I sat in the packed theater with my Aunt on Christmas Day and watched her wipe streams of tears from her eyes for forty-five minutes. I couldn't blame her though, it is a tragic story. The characters are well developed and have compelling stories to tell. And the all star cast delivers professional performances. In fact lately I've enjoyed watching several videos of people crying in the after seeing it. (actually crying.)
Les Miserables needed to decide what it wanted to be, it hyped itself as a musical, but with actors instead of singers. Janitors clean, writers write, and actors act. It's what their best at, actually. Actors can take a script and bring it to life, but in a musical the script is also a lyric sheet. If the entire movie is going to be sung, it is my preference that it were sung by singers.
Not to take anything away from the performances of Hatheway and Jackman both of which exceeded my expectations. Even Russel Crow gave a valiant effort, but if you're going to use actors, let them act! But there's no point to using actors if the camera is just going to be trained on their mouths while they sing. I was almost physically uncomfortable being on a two minute shot of Fantine falling from grace.
Constantly I was getting bored of seeing the same people doing the same thing for such a long time. At least on stage you get an intermission to stretch your legs. The slow camerawork results in a slow movie.
Victor Hugo didn't write a musical, he wrote a very dense and very long epic. If Lord of the Rings has taught us anything it is that great epic stories can be great epic movies. Great epic movies with all star casts deserve Oscars. However, historical fiction love story adapted to a stage musical and then into film don't.
If you like tragedy, go see it, you'll leave in tears. If you like musicals, go see it, you'll leave whistling the soundtrack. If you like movies, you might be disappointed, and leaving the theater with the feeling that a hole has been burned in your pocket.