My first impression to be honest though, was to laugh OUT LOUD every time the characters broke into song. Especially the one where Javert introduces himself to Valjean. Some of the transitions into song were just so... not smooth. It'll be like Valjean and Javert have a short conversation at a normal volume (I'm thinking of the factory scene) and it jars when suddenly one of them breaks into song as there is no real lead-up or anticipation to the song. I know it is a musical, but I wish they could have made it smoother like My Fair Lady or Sound of Music.
I also have an issue with the camera angle or direction. It rarely changes and is mostly all close-ups. Granted, the close-ups are very effective for soliloquies like Fantine's that were just heart-breaking, but it gets a bit tired after awhile.
I found myself thinking of the various ways certain scenes could be improved with a different direction. Like the scene where Javert is chasing Valjean and Cosette through the maze of Paris. I did not feel the urgency or desperation Valjean must have felt. There was no, OMG I've reached a dead-end and the enemy is steadily looming from behind sense of doom. I was not expecting a car chase sequence, but something more urgent. I mean, since it is a film, they had more freedom to enact the scene as compared to the stage musical after all. I did like the nice touch of Javert giving away his badge to Gavroche for instance.
I was blown away by Anne Hathaway. The singers I had issue with were Crowe and Jackman. The latter sounded too high and strained most of the time but since I was prepared for Crowe after all the flak he'd received about it, I felt he did all right. He sounds like a sadder, more resigned type of Javert. I kind of prefer the more passionate voice of Quast, because Javert in my mind was like a hunter who delights in catching his prey, but this quieter interpretation works too.
I liked the film. I liked how the actors did not have to be overly expressive with their emotions as it has to be in the theatre to be noticed. I liked how they could sing or whisper their lines and well... just act.
It has prompted me to dig out my copy of the novel, the Wilbour translation. Why am I such a geek. I notice that fandom is referring to it as the brick.
My other thought is why they didn't just turn it into a series of movies, there's just so much source material enough for a mini-series. The Hobbit is about 300 pages and it's going be 3 movies.