Directed by: Michael Gracey | Produced by: Laurence Mark, Peter Chernin, Jenno Topping | Screenplay by: Jenny Bicks, Bill Condon | Starring: Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, Zac Efron, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson | Music by: John Depney, John Trapanese | Cinematography: Seamus McGravey | Edited by: Tom Cross, Robert Duffy, Joe Hutshing, Michael McCusker, Jon Poll, Spencer Susser | Production Companies: Chernin Entertainment, Seed Productions, Laurence Mark Productions, TSG Entertainment | Distributed by: 20th Century Fox
Hugh Jackman starts his career on musicals, performing in a production on Melbourne and then a highly acclaimed performance in the revival of Oklahoma! in West End. His high baritone voice eventually won Tony Awards for his performance on The Boy from Oz and hosted the awards three times. Some of us recognized him as the adamantium claw mutant Wolverine in X-Men franchises, but his basic would always be musical, and that makes this movie is quite worthy to be waiting for.
Opens with the titular song “The Greatest Show”, a song with repetitive thumping percussions that reminds me a bit of Queen’s We Will Rock You, we see PT Barnum (Hugh Jackman – who else?) in red impresario’s coat and top hat, screaming Make It Interesting! Give ’em something to look at!. The story is then back to his younger day (Ellis Rubin) and his first encounter with his future wife Charity (Skylar Dunn). Their first conversation becomes the first time characters sing their sentences instead of speaking, and the song “A Million Dreams” turns the young boy into Hugh Jackman and the girl becomes Michelle Williams, dancing and twirlinh across their rooftop.
After being fired from his work, Barnum fights to establish himself, develop a show where he recruits people with uniqueness: a bearded lady with soprano voice Lettie (Broadway’s Keala Settle), a dwarf man, a Siamese twins, a giant, etc. This seems to be the moment that ignored people got the stage for their own. Barnum then meets Philip Carlyle (Zac Efron), a playwright who becomes his new partner and also his access to the high-class society. Thanks to Carlyle, Barnum and his extraordinary circus are inviting to meet Queen Victoria in the Buckingham Palace. On the palace too, Barnum and Carlyle are encountering “The Swedish Nightingale” Jenny Lind (Rebecca Ferguson), whom Barnum is then promoting the tour across US.
Lind’s tour makes Barnum forgetting his circus and handing it over to Carlyle. On the end of the tour, Barnum starts to realize that his home is the circus and the people he gives the stage to.
I enjoy The Greatest Showman, although after I read stories about the real life PT Barnum, I feel that he is a exploiter rather than ennobler. In the hand of Hugh Jackman, he becomes an enjoyable character to watch. The Greatest Showman is also a musical that you don’t need to think too much, as you might do with La La Land (2016). However, the result would be this movie’s main weakness: The Greatest Showman doesn’t give us a kick of emotion like La La Land or even Chicago (2002) did. It seems like The Greatest Showman is all about two things: Hugh Jackman is back to musical after retired from Wolverine, and the songs. After seventeen years he is more popular as Wolverine (which nothing wrong with it) than to his basic on musical, his comeback here is making a statement: he is actually unleashed. The songs are as remarkable as the choreography, thanks to choreographer Ashley Wallen, and related to this day’s issues of confidence, dreams and find somewhere we belong.
The other actors are another upside down. Zac Efron also comes back to musical after his start on Disney’s High School Musicals. It almost feels like he is coming back home here, enjoying every scene where he sings and dances, while also left the rest trying so hard to look charismatic. Michelle Williams is stunning as usual, with her anachronistic long blonde hair, she contributes her clear soft voice on “Nighttrap”. Rebecca Ferguson looks magnificent as Jenny Lind and her song “Never Enough” is magnificent as well, but her role as most popular opera singer is unproven. Her singing voice, dubbed by Loren Allred, is not opera soprano voice, and it almost makes me think of a failed auditioner of American Idol. Keala Settle as the bearded lady Lettie is a powerhouse on the circus, and her collaboration (my favorite!) with other circus artist “This is Me” is now nominated to the Golden Globe.
The release of The Greatest Showman is interesting and this is gonna be a perfect movie to end your 2017. Please notice the rate of PG-13 for the mild brawls, but enjoy the joyous songs and Hugh Jackman’s other face.