Firstly - the film has retained the emotion and intensity that has made people fall in love with the stage version. I have seen the show 3 times now and all I will say is that it does not really offer you anything new - if you are a fan already. As for newcomers, I'm not quite convinced it's always clear what's happening and when as there is too much narrative to pack in.
The performances on the whole are excellent. It's true Russell Crowe is out of his depth vocally but he does a good job in the acting department - as you would expect. Hugh Jackman does well as Valjean and manages to make him look less fatherly than we are used to seeing. Anne Hathaway should bag an Oscar, as she steals the film, but don't write off Sally Field as she gives a blinding performance in Lincoln. Amanda Seyfried warbles like a canary trapped under a brick as Cosette but as a friend said - the character is irritating anyway. Eddie Redmayne is brilliant and very stoic, yet naive - perfect. It's Samantha Barks, though who puts many of these Hollywood stars to shame, as she is totally mesmerising as Eponine.
The film cannot escape it's stage origins as many of the scenes are obviously on a sound stage and I never really felt that I was in France. But, overall the grit and blood, sweat and tears that you associate with Victor Hugo's tale is there in abundance.
The live singing works for those that can but those that can't (look away Maximus) - it puts a spotlight on this fact and becomes irritating. Helena Bonham Carter plays Mrs Lovett again and like then, vocally is incredibly reedy and I hated her performance. But the audience I was with loved her.
The elements that will leave you begging for more are the things you already know - the epic story, the wonderfully drawn characters, the well known songs and sweeping score which provide pure, full on emotion. With a four star review from Empire, it seems this could be the film musical that wins over non-converts. It's better than the film version of Phantom by miles and on a par with Evita. With many screenings this weekend already sold out, you better book though, or you might end up bringing yourself home again.