THE GREATEST SHOWMAN will be remembered for its music, if remembered at all.
Following the rise of circus creator P.T. Barnum, played passionately by Hugh Jackman, THE GREATEST SHOWMAN speeds through the difficulties of a boy who comes from nothing to a man who has nothing. Barnum manages to find happiness in the form of love through the daughter of a wealthy man. Charity, played by the always wonderful and exquisite Michelle Williams, leaves her family and fortune behind to be with the man she loves. They have two daughters and the picture admittedly is a bit magical through this quick story of a family who has nothing yet has everything before finding worldly success. Unfortunately, that only makes up the first fifteen minutes.
Barnum passionately pursues his dream of a sensational show with dazzling wonders that mystifies the human eye. Hiring talented outcasts of society with weird physical oddities – unusually short, tall, fat, marked or scarred, and a bearded lady. Barnum understands how to embellish these traits and creates a show worth seeing where people will be entertained. For the most part, the details aren’t worth telling in director Michael Gracey’s musical and instead moves through the action sometimes at record pace. This technique is never more evidently successful when he decides not to enlist the technique halfway through the movie. The best way to notice that something is working is when you see it when it’s not working. Barnum’s greed for fame is both movie trope predictable nor does it make sense from what we know of the character earlier. It’s a nice rags to riches story with the conflict wedged in when our lead forgets the one thing that truly matters and got him there from those who love and support him. Thankfully the upbeat and inspirational musical numbers are ever prevalent to keep the film alive and distract the audience from the forgettable storyline.
Hugh Jackman is excellent as the lead and it shows that he cares so much about the project. But that’s sort of the great thing about Jackman. He’s that one actor that pours his heart and soul into every project and job he’s given. He’s always fun to watch because it’s evident that he truly cares about what he’s doing. The title is well fitting for Mr. Jackman to play the lead. His opening and closing musical numbers to “This is the Greatest Show” is one of the production highlights and most danceable songs of the film. However, the best song belongs to the Oscar nominated, “This is Me.” While the film may have been one of the weakest in the Best Song category nominated for an Academy Award, it was clearly the most moving and inspirational. It’s loss, was one of the more noticeable things the Academy got wrong this year (even if it is in an unnecessary category).
Zac Efron brings his usual charisma in a supporting role as Phillip Carlyle. His subplot relationship with one of the beautiful outcast trapeze artists, played by the popular musician Zendaya, is sweet but lacks any investing qualities. The film is at its greatest strength when it chooses to focus on Barnum’s family and the music. THE GREATEST SHOWMAN mostly attempts to keep the traditional storyline in the background, but finds itself lingering on the familiar formula and character theme of losing one’s focus on what’s important. Nevertheless, treating everyone as equals and ignoring the hateful actions of being judged because you’re different or from lower class is a nice, easy theme to get behind in a PG movie.
The beautiful and colorful production along with the highly energized choreography is enough to sustain any musical fans. But for those who have never really cared for the genre, this film probably won’t change your mind. While THE GREATEST SHOWMAN doesn’t offer anything particularly unique, it does have a nice message and a couple of amazing songs to inspire the heart.
4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: This is a fantastic looking 4K UHD, giving justice the bright and vibrant colors director Michael Gracey used throughout the film. The Blu-ray also looks fantastic, but the 4K takes everything up a notch and I found that most noticeable in any scene that’s predominantly black but has a focal point of color (which, admittedly, is a lot of the film). But the colors scream at you with the black backgrounds and look amazing. Combine that with the standard improvements in closeups and settings and this is a wonderful release.
Audio: The 4K adds a Dolby Atmos track to the great video presentation, making this one you might want to consider reaching for when you want to show off your new Dolby Atmos speakers.
This title was reviewed using a Samsung UBD-K8500 with a Sony XBR75X850C TV.
There are no special features exclusive to the 4K, but it does include a Blu-ray of the film, which includes the following special features:
Commentary with Michael Gracey
The Spectacle (32:10): This and the below featurette are really making-of featurettes focusing on different things. This one is concerned with more traditional aspects of filmmaking like the casting of the characters and how they prepped for the various dance sequences.
The Songs (1:10:05): This featurette is all about the music. Fans of the songs will get a kick out of these featurettes that cover everything you wanted to know about each song.
The Family Behind The Greatest Showman (14:05): The cast and crew get interviewed about the film.