Director: Michael Gracey.
Cast: Hugh Jackman / Zac Efron / Zendaya / Michelle Williams / Rebecca Ferguson
Score: Joseph Trapanese / John Debney
Cinematography: Seamus McGarvey
Content Advisory: PG for thematic elements.
This is one of those rare instances where you should NOT LISTEN TO THE CRITICS AND JUST GO WATCH THE DARN MOVIE. The critics might have slammed this film, but audiences have proved that it is a success.
Even though I had little hope that I would love the movie, I went to see it.
Wow. Just wow. And a thousand more wows. The direction is superb, the cinematography is excellent, the scenography is flawless, and the costumes and sets are stunning. The choreography of the dances and movement onscreen is also absolutely impeccable - I think my favourite scene that is also one of the best examples of this is when Jackman and Efron's characters are in the bar; not only is the writing - the dynamic of the characters and the progression of the story arc - incredibly on point, but it's the music and movement that truly take your breath away. The arrangement, the make-up, of that scene, from a production and technical standpoint, is just genius. It's incredible.
Then there's the music. The earth-shattering, soul stirring music. I literally had goosebumps every time someone started singing. The songs are catchy and addictive, and they're beautifully written. I haven't been able to get them out of my head since I left the cinema.
The story is so absorbing. You're overwhelmed by the magic and colour and emotion bursting from the screen, and are completely sucked under its spell. I came out of the cinema on a literal buzz with my heart overflowing and my head spinning. I immediately wanted to watch the whole film again. I wanted to go back to that pure, escapist joy gushing from the movie. I wanted to feel every feeling again.
But there some tiny negatives re. the story: It is predictable, a bit cheesy, and even the hardships (like the poverty Barnam and his family suffer) are still rather glamorised. The story as seen in the film might be based on a true story, but it is very romanticised. I don't think the writers bothered too much about preserving accuracy. This is also Hollywood, after all, and they're gonna pretty things up for entertainment value.
The story is full of amazing messages. The depiction of the different and diverse kinds of prejudice the characters experience is heartbreaking, but also extremely on point. The movie is literally packed with good lessons: it deals with social status, interracial relationships, and most importantly it tells us to accept everyone - to not treat them as pariahs just because they're different from you. It's indeed a "celebration of humanity', as the movie so profoundly puts it.
The acting is great. I don't think anyone could pull off P.T. Barnum with the gusto, passion, and charisma that Hugh Jackman lends to the character - he embodies the personality so well. Michelle Williams is also solid (and underrated), and Rebecca Ferguson is a dream (and just in case you, like me, were wondering: her character's singing voice isn't actually her own. I had to google that. I couldn't believe it was Ferguson singing ;)
Zendaya and Zac Efron are brilliant. Their chemistry is beautiful. Every scene between them is gorgeous and ever so slightly out of this world; they're always gravitating towards each other, and the effect is breathtaking.
The Greatest Showman is a phenomenal cinematic masterpiece. Not only is the production one of the finest I have ever seen, but the messages the film sends out are relevant and important. This movie is the case for why we watch movies. It reminds us just how powerful, how utterly overwhelming, films can be.