The Greatest Showman Review – A Musical Extravaganza!

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01 Jan 18

If you were to tell me that, in 2017, we were about to go and see a film that was first announced in 2009 I would be expecting the worst.  I would be looking for disastrous production stories, a roll-call of dismissed directors and actors and a series of re-edits and re-shoots to make the film workable.  While these stories have become standard in today’s cinema news I am pleased to say that ‘The Greatest Showman’ does not have any of these stories. The real story is that of passion, and as many reviewers put it – a passion-project of lead star Hugh Jackman. The passion shines through in this, in my opinion, a superb feel-good showcase of existing talent, emerging talent and a blueprint for future musical-films.

Telling the story of P.T Barnum’s creation of his circus and the lives of his family and the circus stars, it takes on stories of love, resilience, friendship, belief and humility.  Hugh Jackman may be amazing, and there are consistent performances from Michelle Williams and Zendaya but there is clearly a hidden gem in the cast. Keala Settle who plays Lettie Lutz, the bearded lady, is just divine – I couldn’t take my eyes off her – the passion and persecution in her character and, of course, having the lead song helped here. It is not often that a film leads me into the dark depths of YouTube videos and articles to learn more about its journey to the screen and I would encourage any fans to watch some of the performances and interviews made when the film was trying to be greenlit.

The film is directed by Michael Gracey, and this is his first big-screen attempt at directing, and his reputation in special effects and commercials can be seen in this beautifully shot film. Jackman’s friend, and ‘Logan’ director, James Mangold was drafted in to oversee some of the reshoots because of Gracey’s inexperience and as a result, Mangold gets an Exec Producer credit.

The songs are modern and pop-themed, which I think is refreshing considering the time in which the story is set, and the songwriting duo of Benj Pasek and Justin Paul have struck gold again.  The ‘La La Land’ songwriters had already been writing for Gracey and Jackman way before they scooped their awards at the 2017 Academy Awards.  Their infectious hooks and lyrics have left me adoring 3 songs in particular ‘The Greatest Show’, ‘Come Alive’ and (have I mentioned it yet…) ’This Is Me’ and I cannot wait to see where this film can go now.  The potential for an on-stage version is surely on the cards, but I can guarantee we will definitely be hearing these songs throughout our reality/talent show TV programmes over the next few months, and possibly years.

Go and see ‘The Greatest Showman’, even if you’re not into musicals… It has got to be better than sitting inside wallowing in any January blues!

A musical extravaganza with humour and heart that almost echoes its signature song ‘This is Me’.