FlixChatter Review: The Greatest Showman (2017)


Review by: Vitali Gueron

The upcoming original musical The Greatest Showman is directed by Michael Gracey, and written by Jenny Bicks and Bill Condon. First time Australian director Gracey made a wonderful decision to turn The Greatest Showman into a modern-musical, opting for modern day pop style songs over 1800s tunes. Convincing 20th Century FOX, Gracey was instrumental in hiring songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul (Tony award winners for the original musical Dear Evan Hansen and then Golden Globe and OSCAR winners for the La La Land song City of Stars). Pasek and Paul wrote eleven original songs for The Greatest Showman, each more emotional than the last. Their original song This Is Me, has so far been nominated for a Golden Globe and could be in play for the Best Original Song category at this year’s OSCARS.

The film is inspired by the life of circus creator and father of modern show business, P.T. Barnum (Hugh Jackman). Supporting Barnum are his supportive wife Charity (Michelle Williams), his business partner Phillip Carlyle (Zac Efron), and Anne Wheeler (Zendaya), the acrobat & trapeze-artist that Carlyle scandalously falls for. Broadway star Keala Settle stars as the Bearded Lady and she sings This is Me to perfection. She nearly runs away with the whole movie.

When Barnum struggles supporting his circus made up of freaks and bizarre acts, he invited and hires Jenny Lind (Rebecca Ferguson), a famous Swedish opera singer to perform in America for the first time. Barnum called Lind “The Swedish Nightingale” and she ended up being a big hit and performing over 90 concerts for him before quitting the tour and breaking her contract with Barnum. Lind had wearied of Barnum’s assertive marketing of her and that she would end up like Barnum’s circus. When Barnum returns to New York after the tour, the building housing his circus catches fire and while no one is hurt, the building is a total loss. Barnum then figures out that he doesn’t need a whole building to house the circus but rather a very large tent.

Zendaya and Zac Efron have a wonderful connection onscreen, especially when they perform the acrobatically-demanding musical number Rewrite The Stars and when he defends her in front of his parents. They share some terrific chemistry, but it’s hard to beat the moments when Zac Efron and Hugh Jackman share the screen. One of the best scenes in the film is when Barnum talks Carlyle into joining the circus, and they try to out-dance each other. They do this during the song The Other Side. There are also beautiful renditions of Tightrope by Michelle Williams and Never Enough, performed by Loren Allred who provides Jenny Lind’s singing voice in the movie.

The Greatest Showman feels a little predictable and disjoined at times, but the emotions in the movie feel true and very authentic. The movie make you want to care for Barnum and what happens with his family, so you probably won’t care if it is a little over the top – musicals are supposed to be that way. It’s the perfect film to enjoy with the whole family over the holidays; even if you’re someone who hates musicals this one might be the one that convinces you to give it a try. At least one can appreciate the hard work it is to write a whole new, original musical. I have to give them props for a job well done.

Have you seen ‘The Greatest Showman’? Well, what did you think? 

Five for the Fifth: New Year Edition

Hello folks, welcome to the first Five of the Fifth edition of 2012!

As is customary for this monthly feature, I get to post five random news item/observation/poster, etc. and then turn it over to you to share your take on that given topic. You can see the previous five-for-the-fifth posts here. So let’s get started, shall we?

1.  A couple of days ago, Indiewire reported that Meryl Streep is to receive the Berlinale’s (German’s equivalent to the Academy Awards) honorary lifetime achievement award, the Golden Bear on February 14. “The Berlin fest’s Dieter Kosslick calls Streep ‘a brilliant, versatile performer who moves with ease between dramatic and comedic roles,’ and says they are ‘delighted to be able to award the honorary Golden Bear to such a terrific artist and world star.'”

Well nobody is going to argue with such a sentiment, I mean after all she’s the only actress who’s got the most Oscar nominations (a whopping 16 times!) and won two. She is once again an Oscar front-runner in her latest role as Margaret Thatcher in The Iron Lady. I’m thrilled for Meryl, but I’m also wondering which other actor/actress do you think who also deserve a lifetime achievement award in acting?

2. I noticed this yesterday at my pal ScarletSp1der’s Movie News Monday post, and I thought it’s a pretty cool looking poster.

I almost didn’t recognize Zac Efron in that poster, though I immediately scoffed when I read at some blog saying that he looked James Dean-y (yeah, he wish!) I guess I’ve always thought of him as nothing more than a former Disney pretty boy trying to prove he’s got acting chops. But maybe I shouldn’t judge him too harshly. I heard he was quite good in that Me and Orson Welles movie? And this one might be good enough to rent as well.

So I’m curious folks, how do you feel about Zac Efron? And while we’re at it, which other former Disney matinee idol are you a fan of [besides the obvious that is Ryan Gosling]?

3. I’m still bummed out that Kenneth Branagh isn’t going to be back to helm the Thor sequel. Well, the latest news has it that Game of Thrones director Alan Taylor is on board. According to FirstShowing, Taylor is in talks to direct the sequel written by the first film’s co-writer Don Payne thus keeping it on track for its release on November 15th, 2013.

Since I haven’t seen a single episode of that medieval series, do you think he’s a good choice to helm Thor 2?

4. Now, my pal Castor is on to something (well he always is, ahah). He said in this Upside Down trailer post that he wishes Hollywood would do more sci-fi romances. I totally agree! That’s why I love the sci-fi soap opera Battlestar Galactica… I mean humans + cylons, human + humans struggling to figure out this thing called love is pretty intriguing stuff 😀 Not to mention [forbidden] romances set in a futuristic world like Equilibrium or time-travel love stories like The Time Traveler’s Wife. It doesn’t even have to involve humans, hence my forever love for Wall•E. As some of you might’ve read, my last fantasy movie pitch is a sci-fi romance thriller.

A couple of years ago, this i09.com article asked the same question: where are the sci-fi movies love stories? Yet still… there are dozens upon dozens of horror/slasher flicks, but hardly any sci-fi romance movies being made. What say you folks? Are you a fan of this sub-genre? What other genre/sub-genre you wish Hollywood would make more of?

5. Now, last but not least… screen icon Robert Duvall turns 81 today. Funny that I have not seen quite a lot of his films but I saw two of his earlier films in the last month, that is To Kill a Mockingbird and Captain Newman. Other than that, I’ve only seen a handful of his work, including The Godfather, Newsies, Something to Talk About and Deep Impact. Seems like he’s still quite active in the biz, he’s got one TV movie this year and a couple of films scheduled for 2013, one of them is a crime drama One Shot with Tom Cruise. He also had producing credit for Crazy Heart and Get Low which he also starred in 2009.

Now I turn it over to you folks. Are you a fan of Mr. Duvall? What’s your favorite Robert Duvall film(s)?

Well, that’s it for the first edition of Five for the Fifth. Now, please pick a question out of the five above or better yet, do ‘em all!