Despite Star Wars: The Last Jedi dominating the Christmas box office, there were surprise successes for both Jumanji: Welcome To The Jungle and The Greatest Showman. The musical based on the life of P.T. Barnum who developed the first circus and stars Hugh Jackman in the lead role. The film has dominated the January box office, suffering minimal week-to-week drop-offs, and its soundtrack even beat songstress Camilla Cabello to the number one spot on the UK album chart. But is this film just a collection of great music videos, or will it be a musical following the lead of La La Land in becoming a modern musical classic?
The film boasts an impressive cast, combining some seasoned actors with some rising stars to create a dynamic ensemble. Jackson is a strong lead and is able to show the highs and lows of Barnum’s colourful past. Following from his performance in Les Miserables, I do question his singing ability, a few of his songs were a little weak and I did find myself cringing a couple of times. Michelle Williams shows again why she can be relied on in any role she is given, a vast contract from her character from this year’s All The Money In The World (review to follow). The story does allude to the harsher side of Barnum’s personality, I find it hard to believe he played happy families as much as the film leads you to believe.
Zendaya rounded off 2017 with another note-worthy performance following on from her summer blockbuster Spiderman: Homecoming. She clearly is an actress to watch and with talks of her already beginning to produce projects she is passionate about, a great move in solidifying a long and prosperous career in Hollywood. On the other end of the spectrum, we find Zac Efron who had a disappointing 2017 with Baywatch. I’m still unsure of Efron‘s validity as a leading actor, but it is clear from this film he can still work with the talents he demonstrated in his High School Musical debut. I have always enjoyed Rebecca Ferguson in all of her projects, despite the quality of the film. This role is not her best and she failed to become the big villain, but I am glad she is being offered roles in bigger and better films.
It would be hard to go through the cast without mentioning the biggest breakout star. Keala Settle rounds off the cast as the bearded lady but brings down the house in the leading song of the film “This Is Me”. The music is expertly written by the duo Benj Pasek and Justin Paul who will be looking to repeat their success at the Academy Awards with La La Land‘s “City Of Stars”. The choreography of the film is amazing, I particularly enjoy how all the separate elements of the circus combine in the opening number. I do feel like the music is the main selling point for the film and will convince any musical fan that this is a good film. Despite the film being a hit with fans and some critics, I do feel like there are elements of the film that left me a little disappointed.
The main issue I have with the film comes with the story, the film seems to be a selection of events crafted together to make a story. My biggest example of this is the visit to meet Queen Victoria, this scene has no real influence towards the progression of the story and could easily have been left out. The conclusion of the story comes easily to the characters and the group never really face too much turmoil. I would have liked to have seen some more character development, especially with Efron’s character who showed signs of making a difference on important topics including class and race. I can see why people enjoy The Greatest Showman but with some great films coming out this year, I don’t think the film will resonate with me in a year’s time.
Click here to read more of our film reviews.