We were pleased. Lowered expectations at the outset, based on criticisms from varying reviews, may have helped. Neither of us had previously seen a live production, although Kate had watched the 10th anniversary concert.
In general, I'd call this an actor's production. While there was spectacle, the director had a remarkable cast and emphasized that by making heavy use of close ups. The common observation was that Russell Crowe doesn't quite have the lungs for the traditional Javert, but he acted the role well. My favorite portrayal versus my beloved CDs was that of the urchin revolutionary Gavroche who had a few expanded songs and was very much a character in his own right rather than just a mascot.
I think the biggest risk the director took was being heavy-handed with his cinematography. There are a fair number of ensemble songs and the camera work, not just the voices, makes clear where our attention should be at any moment. I think that's simply necessary with disparate medleys like One Day More!, but I suspect those more familiar with the show might be a bit put off to not have the freedom to focus their attention as they like. I know I habitually pay more attention to the actors in minor roles when I've seen a play a few times.
From a political science perspective, I enjoyed Charles Walton's take in Foreign Affairs and do agree that it did have a notably pessimistic take on revolution. The revolt was exciting but from the size of crowds and the numbers of the soldiers it was easy to tell that they never had a chance.
"Hooper’s cinematic rendering is stunningly staged and brilliantly performed, but it cuts the author in half: it gives us the religious Hugo, not the revolutionary one. It tells the story of individual redemption through an odyssey of Catholic conscience, not of France’s collective redemption through political violence."
From a Kate perspective, the most entertaining part of the film is Enjolras' expressions as he listens to Marius moon over Cosette. Our sympathies are totally with Enjolras.