Film Review: The Greatest Showman
Release date: 26th December 2017
Director: Michael Gracey
Starring: Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, Zac Efron, Zendaya, Rebecca Ferguson
Runtime: 105 minutes
Watched in: 2D
Rating: 4/5 stars
The Greatest Showman is inspired by the real life story of how P.T. Barnum rose from obscurity to create a circus and become a significant figure in the circus’ journey to popularity.
At first I found the pop soundtrack an odd contrast to the 19th Century setting. As I wasn’t expecting that as I hadn’t really heard the music before seeing the film, this at first was a strange collision that I wasn’t sure about (although it did remind me of We Will Rock You invading the medieval setting in A Knight’s Tale with spectacular effect). I got into it as the film went on and probably need to see it again to appreciate this aspect of it more. Once I got used to the style of music I found the soundtrack quite catchy. I can imagine some of the songs getting stuck in my head…
The cinematography and choreography was good. There were some great touches and the film really flowed through the way it was filmed. At times the choreography of the dancing was repetitive (mostly in the group songs) and they could have done more with it in some scenes to make it more dynamic and less repetitive. However I greatly enjoyed the way the duets were put together choreographically, particularly Jackman and Efron in “The Other Side” and “Rewrite the Stars” with Efron and Zendaya (although the latter was perhaps a little…cheesy…).
The film focused on Barnum’s story and although I liked seeing his development and relationship with his family, I felt that some of the other characters were not explored as much as they could have been. One of the messages of the story is that being a “freak” does not mean that you should be excluded by society and hide in the shadows. So it seems a little contradictory for the film itself to highlight Barnum’s story and leave the others in the shadows. Perhaps some of this is because Hugh Jackman steals the show a bit. Efron and Zendaya’s characters have a good storyline but none of the other “freaks” from the circus have a story. They have a group story and each have personalities, but we never know anything more about them. Although Zendaya’s character had a subplot, we still didn’t actually really know much about the trapeze artist. Obviously with so many characters they can’t all have equal screen time, but it would have been nice for one or two of the other circus characters to have been given a story of their own.
Overall I enjoyed the film, and although it was great, in some ways they could have done a lot more with the story and characters they had to work with.