Let's jump right into what seems to be the main talking point: Russell Crowe's singing. The Internet and Unpleasable Fanbase being what it is, reaction to it has ranged everywhere from "OMG Crowe totally cannot sing this movie is RUINED I'm going to go slit my wrists now" to "He sounds awesome shut up haters you're just jealous." (I am paraphrasing, but only slightly.) My reaction is somewhere more in the middle: he didn't wow me, but neither did I recoil in horror from the sound of his voice. I survived Gerard Butler and Pierce Brosnan, and I'm right in the midst of dealing with Lucille Ball--based on this brief clip, Crowe doesn't approach those wretched low points of the genre. On the other hand, I think he can do better. Because Russell Crowe can sing. I offer as Exhibit A:
I like the way his voice sounds in this video. It's rough, but in a pleasant way, with just the right amount of pop inflection. It's a voice that I can imagine singing a quiet, pensive rendition of "Stars." So why does he sound so...peculiar in the trailer?
My best guess is that Crowe is trying to be something he's not--specifically, the sort of powerful, majestic baritone who usually performs Javert on stage. He shouldn't try to be Philip Quast or Terrance Mann--not because they're not awesome (few things are more glorious than a good strong baritone thundering in full voice) but because that's not who he is, and attempting to force his voice into that mold will only make him look inferior by comparison. Instead, he should take what works in his voice and use it to put his own spin on the character. He'd probably still take some flack for it (again, Unpleasable Fanbase at work) but it would better showcase what he's capable of.
Any quibbles I have about Russell Crowe's approach, however, pale in comparison to the facts that a) Hugh Jackman is awesome, b) Anne Hathaway, if possible, sounds even more gut-wrenchingly tragic than she did in the first trailer, and is looking better and better for an Oscar nod al the time, c) the chorus sounds marvelous, and d) nearly every shot we've seen serves to emphasize Tom Hooper's commitment to giving this material the scope and emotional resonance it deserves. It's shaping up to be a merry, magnificent Miserables Christmas.