The Greatest Showman Review

The Greatest Showman P.T. Barnum Character Poster #1

The Greatest Showman is a film that’s been a long time coming. In 2009, Hugh Jackman was announced to star in the film. But because the studio didn’t feel as if an original musical was going to be successful, it’s been shelved for several years. During that time, the film became a passion project for Jackman. However, thanks to the success of La La Land, The Greatest Showman is finally hitting theaters. But is the long wait for The Greatest Showman worth it?

It most certainly is. Although there are issues with the character development and storyline, the film makes up for it with Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron’s performance, its incredible soundtrack, and its amazing visuals. The film is so much fun.

The Greatest Showman follows P.T. Barnum on his journey to become “The Greatest Showman on Earth”.

The Greatest Showman - Zac Efron & Hugh Jackman

Even though The Greatest Showman looks like a biographical musical of P.T. Barnum’s life, it’s not an outright biography of the man. Unsurprisingly, the film takes massive liberty with the retelling of Barnum’s life. Nevertheless, Jenny Bicks and Bill Condon do a good job grabbing some of the most important parts of his life and combine it into one coherent story.

If the film focuses on Barnum, it wholly succeeds. After all, the “Shakespeare of Advertising” has led a very interesting life. However, once the film puts the spotlight on the other characters, the film stumbles. Notably, the romantic subplot between Phillip Carlyle and Anne Wheeler. Although it’s understandable to bring these two young and attractive leads together, it just doesn’t add to the film’s overall storyline.

But there are two important things that The Greatest Showman has going for it. For one thing, the film is so incredibly beautiful. Director Michael Gracey creates such a wondrous world that you can’t help but be enchanted by it. There’s just so much color and style in this film. It’s like a toned-down version of Moulin Rouge. The cinematography by Seamus McGarvey is simply phenomenal. He’s able to capture the fantastical and frame it like a painting. Not to mention, there’s so much heart in this film. Everyone’s perseverance to the racism, elitism, and the inherent fear of freaks is inspirational.

In addition, the dance numbers are something to marvel at as well. Some of Showman’s dance numbers take inspiration from the classic musicals of old. Think of the dance numbers of Fred Astaire, Ginger Rogers, or Gene Kelly. That’s where you’ll find some of the inspiration. Yet The Greatest Showman also adds some of the modern day hip-hop dance routines as well. It’s a nice blend of new and old.

Yet the greatest thing about The Greatest Showman is the film’s soundtrack. The lyricists behind last year’s Oscar darling, La La Land, outdid themselves here. This is quite possibly the best musical soundtrack that I’ve heard in a very long time. The songs have a contemporary feel to it that is extremely catchy. The soundtrack has an excellent mixture of R&B, pop, gospel, and theatrical songs. Once again, it’s a nice blend of old and new.

All in all, any song in The Greatest Showman soundtrack will be a heavy favorite for Best Original Song at next year’s Oscars. Although no one can dislike Fox’s consideration choice in “This Is Me”. That song is beautifully sung by Keala Settle and an inspirational song as well.

The Greatest Showman - Hugh Jackman

In the start of his post-Wolverine career, Hugh Jackman shines as P.T. Barnum. Which is a relief because the film relies heavily on audiences attaching themselves to P.T. Barnum. He shows a wide array of emotion during Barnum’s highs and lows. Once again, Jackman shows that he can both act and sing. However, with the more contemporary songs, it sounds as if he’s struggling a bit.

Zac Efron also shines as Phillip Carlyle. Admittedly, I haven’t seen a lot of Efron’s films. Yet this is the best I’ve seen of the young actor. He’s just as superb as Jackman is. Also impressive is his ability to sing. Because of his youth, he’s able to sing the contemporary songs with such ease. If you need an example, just listen to his song with Zendaya called “Rewrite The Stars”.

Michelle Williams is so likable as Charity Barnum, P.T.’s loyal and loving wife. She is so incredibly sweet and motherly that you can’t help but feel sorrow for her at the lowest points of their relationship. On the other hand, Zendaya doesn’t have that big of a role in the film. To her credit, you will feel sorry for her when she goes through the rampant racism of the era. Be that as it may, her role is nothing but a plot device for Carlyle’s character development.

Overall, The Greatest Showman is such a magical film. Sure, the film has flaws with its weak subplots and thin character development. But the film is so immensely beautiful and the songs are so catchy that you can’t help but immerse yourself in this extraordinary world. Listening to the soundtrack, I can’t help but reminisce fondly about the film. It’s a world that I’ll gladly go back to time and time again.

Rating: 4/5 atoms

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