It seems that Hugh Jackman has decided to go back to his musical roots.
After appearing in more X-men movies than anyone else, it seems like quite a sudden change to see him prancing around singing. But then, the success of Les Miserables and La La Land, plus his desire to go back to where it all began for him, may have given him some extra confidence.
In cinemas now is the latest musical number staring Hugh Jackman as the lead, The Greatest Showman. The movie follows the rip-roaring, rags to riches, tale of real life showman PT Barnum, and how he took theatre to the masses in the 1800s with the help of his “oddities”.
The Greatest Showman: Behind the Curtain
The Greatest Showman tackles themes of acceptance well for a mainstream motion picture. Prominently featuring disabled and outcast groups, it doesn’t shy away from addressing some outdated fears and the exclusions of minorities; a problem rife 150 years ago, and sadly even today.
An important thing to to say is that a true to life biopic, it is not.
The film takes large cues from reality and keeps the well-known historical events, but does away with anything that might spoil the cinema experience. To say it is a romanticised version would be a huge understatement and probably an explanation as to why the trailers never mentioned it was “based on a true story”. And we absolutely love the film for doing this. The Greatest Showman is true to it’s source material in the fact that in makes the story much more engaging by being a sort of hoax.
The minds behind this movie seem to have realised that the real story of PT Barnum has been done to death, instead offering a better, more fun and exuberant version. For us, in our honest opinion, these fictional version of events are far more entertaining than real life.
The Musical Elements That Shine Through
The major differences between fact and fiction really lend themselves to making this movie a musical that works.
By using modern styled songs and dance routines, the historical story is transposed into something relatable and enjoyable. In this day and age, it would be safe to assume that not that many people have actually been to the circus, but they have definitely seen movies — and dance, and songs. This is familiarity with cinema is used very cleverly to build the fantastical world of PT Barnum’s shows. The film utilises many characters that, at the time, would not have had a voice due to political and social attitudes and lets them belt out their feelings to drive the story.
What’s Not to Love About The Greatest Showman?
Although the film does give these characters this voice and is a celebration of humanity, it feels like this element of the film is underused. PT Barnum is given a bit too much focus, and a stronger plot featuring the cast of oddities would be greatly received.
This is clearly a sentiment held by many as the song “This Is Me”, a moment when the freaks finally have enough of being ignored, is currently in the UK top 10.
The modernised songs are really catchy and fun, and the cast includes some amazing singers including Keala Settle who has had runs on Broadway. Zendaya and Zach Efron also star, and have only gotten better since their Disney days. Sadly though, old Hugh doesn’t quite match up to the calibre of his co-stars, which is a real shame; especially considering his theatrical past.
Our Honest Review
The Greatest Showman is a great family film for a Sunday afternoon. It’s fun, well produced, and will make you think more about others that sometimes get ignored. It is a film about feeling good about yourself and recognising others’ great qualities too. It will also get you humming some inspiration tunes which is always a plus.