Director: Michael Gracey
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, Zac Efron, Rebecca Ferguson, Zendaya
Runtime: 1 hr 45 mins
Released By: 20th Century Fox
Official Website: https://www.facebook.com/GreatestShowman
Opening Day: 28 December 2017
Synopsis: "The Greatest Showman" is a bold and original musical that celebrates the birth of show business and the sense of wonder we feel when dreams come to life. Inspired by the ambition and imagination of P.T. Barnum, "The Greatest Showman" tells the story of a visionary who rose from nothing to create a mesmerizing spectacle that became a worldwide sensation.
Can the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences invite Hugh Jackman to host the Oscars again?
Back in 2009, he impressed us with his style, grace and confidence. And that opening number saluting nominated films just gets better every time we watch it.
The Australian actor may be known for his long running role as Logan in the X Men franchise, but the versatile performer is perfect for the stage. Having won a Tony Award for his role in The Boy from Oz, Jackman is no stranger to Broadway theatre. For people like us who do not have the chance to watch the 49 good looker perform live, we have are movie musicals like this one directed by Michael Gracey.
Based on the life of PT Barnum, the film is set in the 1800s and chronicles how the Barnum & Bailey Circus was founded. In reality, Barnum was a showman, politician and businessman who treaded in the grey area for promoting celebrated hoaxes. And why would a movie studio risk box office returns by exploring Barnum’s darker side? Besides, don’t the majority of audiences step into the cinema for escapist entertainment?
With that, this movie musical was concocted. Gracey, who has been helming TV commercials, makes his debut as a feature film director here. With Jackman as the leading man, the movie is easily a crowd pleaser,
Jackman gives his all to portray a very relatable Barnum, and the controversies about the showman repackaging ostracised individuals as freaks are simply glossed over by the line “They're laughing at us anyway - might as well get paid.” It is evident that the charming movie star is made for this role, having sung his lungs out in the film version of Les Miserables (2012) directed by Tom Hooper. His portrayal of the big hearted entertainer also involves lots of dancing, and that is a good thing for us.
Another star in the ensemble cast who has benefited from his previous experience is Zac Efron. He may have taken on beefcake roles in movies like Dirty Grandpa (2016) and Baywatch (2017), but we will always be impressed by his likeable vocals in Hairspray (2007) and High School Musical 3: Senior Year (2008). Here, he plays Burnam’s business partner and has a highly amusing duet with Jackman.
Elsewhere, Michelle Williams (Oz the Great and Powerful) plays Barnum’s understanding wife, and gets to showcase her vocals. There is also Zendaya (Spider Man: Homecoming) who plays a trapeze artist who gets romantic with Efron, as well as Rebecca Ferguson (Life) who plays real life Swedish singer Jenny Lind and does an impressive job lip syncing to Loren Allred’s operatic voice.
The musical numbers are highly infectious and thanks to Gracey’s portfolio, these sequences do feel like dance pop music videos. They contain so much energy and infectious flashiness, you will have no problem indulging in this guilty pleasure.
We know that a production of this genre isn’t about depth of plot development, but we wish there was more time dedicated to more about Tom Thumb, Dog Boy, Tattoo Man, the Bearded Lady and the other individuals who eventually became family at the circus. But hey, we are always ready for an entertaining circus based movie musical filled with glitzy song and dance.
(Singing! Dancing! Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron! This glitzy movie musical is escapist guilty pleasure at its best!)
Review by John Li