It is extraordinary, heart-breaking, harrowing, traumatic, beautiful, frightening, moving and the themes of grace and love that conquers all are powerful.
It is a true epic movie.
I haven't seen the musical so I can't compare the two experiences - movie vs theater. I can tell you though that the acting is the best I've ever seen, by all of the actors but in particular Hugh Jackman (Jean Valjean), Anne Hathaway (Fantine) and Eddie Redmayne (Marius).
I came out of the movie very starstruck which is unusual for me!
Unusually, almost the entire movie is sung but don't let that put you off. The first third of the movie stands out as a highlight as Hugh Jackman and Anne Hathaway portray their characters in devastating situations and profound emotions. It occurs to me that in a stage production it would be difficult to communicate the same emotions whereas in film, the closeups mean that every facial muscle is seen clearly and there is no where for either bad or good acting to hide. If they don't get a whole slew of Oscars and other movie-related gongs, I'll know the judges are as blind as bats.
I won't include any spoilers but this is the movie that you're going to want to buy on DVD and then watch over and over again. Don't miss it at the movie theater though, it's made for the Big Screen.