Director Tom Hooper's bold decision to capture the vocals live, not through pre-recorded playback, has put acting back into musical performance. In my opinion, Crowe conveys the obsessive mood of a typical Victor Hugo villain rather well.
Here lyrics are delivered as in-the-moment dialogue, not as a secondary element in quasi-operatic showstoppers designed to be heard at the back of the stalls. The best example of this is the most prominent: Anne Hathaway breathes meaning back into I Dreamed A Dream, a song which has in recent years been in danger of having any sense of dramatic purpose pummelled out of it. Hers is the sound of a spurned woman, a struggling single mother, not a reality show phenomenon.
The end result of this approach is an album that gains in immediate raw emotion what it loses in pure musicality. It's a half-decent souvenir of a cinema experience that, to some ears, is all the better for avoiding the bombastic melodrama of the stage recordings.