The movie: Those who loved Peter Jackson’s colorful take on the “Rings” series will be pleased to hear that he’s once again lording over Middle-earth. Those who didn’t might be perturbed to find that “The Hobbit” novel will result in another trio of films. Jackson may have botched his attempt at bringing “The Lovely Bones” to the big screen, but he has extensive help here with three co-writers, including one intriguing name: Guillermo del Toro, who wrote and directed the fairy tale nightmare “Pan’s Labyrinth.” More good news comes in the miniaturized form of Martin Freeman, the always likable actor known from the movie “Love Actually” and the British television show “Sherlock,” in which he plays Watson.
(Opens Dec. 25)
The book: The often-adapted classic had a somewhat inauspicious beginning. Frenchman Victor Hugo was exiled, living on the British island of Guernsey, when he published his novel in 1862, and the critical reception was not exactly glowing. Still, “Les Miserables” was a commercial success, probably due to both its heart-rending story and its political themes during a tenuous period in French history. The story follows Jean Valjean, who juggles running from his nemesis, Inspector Javert, and raising his adoptive daughter, Cosette. The drama reaches a fever pitch against the backdrop of the June Rebellion.
The movie: The film is technically an adaptation of the Tony-winning musical based on the novel, and it’s the sing-songy aspect of the production that has created the most trepidation leading up to the release. Does Anne Hathaway really have the range to sing “I Dreamed a Dream” in the role of the desperate prostitute Fantine? After the film’s first preview was released, viewers were divided. Oscar-winning director Tom Hooper (“The King’s Speech”) is on board, and the rest of the star-filled cast seems promising. Hugh Jackman plays Valjean, while Russell Crowe seems like an appropriately menacing choice for Javert. Perhaps most intriguing: Audiences will get to see the erstwhile Borat, Sacha Baron Cohen, playing despicable inn owner Thenardier and singing “Master of the House.”