The Greatest Showman (2017)

The Greatest Showman

P.T. Barnum (Hugh Jackman) and the birth of show business.

It should come as no surprise that The Greatest Showman has been a passion project of Hugh Jackman’s since 2009. He gives an all out performance that is the back bone of the film, which is more style than substance. Thankfully, the style more than makes up for it.

Jackman plays Barnum, the man who went through one of America’s first (if not the first) rags to riches story, from robbing street vendors as a kid to creating what is now known as the circus (though it did shut down for good in 2017). With his wife and childhood sweetheart Charity (Michelle Williams) and his two daughters (Austyn Johnson and Cameron Seely), Barnum gathers up the outcasts of society to perform a spectacle that changes history.

Such outcasts are the bearded lady (Keala Settle), with a voice that could blow the tent over, Tom Thumb (Sam Humphrey), the “general” and the Wheeler siblings, W.D. (Yahya-Abdul-Mateen II) and Anne (Zendaya, who is making her name known after years on the Disney Channel). Helping on the business side of things is Phillip Carlyle (Zac Efron).

For me, I had wished the film would have more musical numbers in the circus setting, not just in the real world. I understand they are telling the story of PT Barnum, but couldn’t just a few numbers be used with the spectacle and visuals he was known for?

Another issue I had with the film was that it spent a little too much time on the famous European singer Jenni Lind (Rebecca Ferguson). It is true that she has some stellar vocal numbers (though Ferguson is dubbed over), but it is too much time away that I wanted spent at the circus.

Thankfully, each number is so awe-inspiring that the movie is worth seeing just for them. I am not sure which is my favorite yet (I have the soundtrack to go through still), but the ones that come to mind are the raw power of “This is Me”, the romantic duet “Rewrite the Stars” and the redemption of “From Now On”.

Parents, it is so wonderful that there is a movie musical (besides a Disney one) like this you can take the kids to. It is PG, and that is only for some mild thematic moments (maybe not mild, but not scary).

The Greatest Showman is not the best of musicals of recent years (certainly not better than La La Land, though the lyricists worked on this film), but it is still nice to know that there are some movies that are willing to risk a lot just to entertain us with originality and awe.

Basically, what Barnum would have done.

 

Overall: Three and a Half Stars *** 1/2

Logan (2017)

logan

Hugh Jackman unleashes the claws one last time.

Not to start anything here, but who needs a wall on the Mexican border when we have Wolverine?

 

Wolverine was one of my favorite superheroes growing up for one main reason: the claws. I mean, I would look at my hands sometimes as a kid and thought to myself, “How cool would it be to have three metal knifes just come out of my hand whenever I want?” Logan‘s Hugh Jackman has been donning the claws since 2000’s X-Men, and now, in his final performance (he has stated that skin cancer and age are why he is stepping down), he gives a truly stellar and even subtle performance as the self-healing mutant (though not always healing on the inside).

The movie starts out at a gas station in 2029, where most mutants are long gone. The opening scene is how the director (James Mangold) will show us that this is no kiddie movie by any means. Logan/Wolverine has used his claws before, but this is one of the times we get to see the aftermath. Living off the Mexican border, Logan is accompanied by Pierce (Boyd Holbrook) as they both look after Logan’s old mentor, Charles (that always subliminal thespian Patrick Stewart), who was once known as Professor X. Thru mere chance (ok, not really) one day, Logan comes across Gabriela (Elizabeth Rodriguez), who is helping a child mutant escape from the authorities. Her name is Laura, and is played by newcomer Dafne Keen, and she gives one heck of a knockout performance (literally). She is one of many child mutants who are trying to make it to a safe place in North Dakota.

Parents, as stated before, this is no kid movie. It deserves its R rating (though not as bad as Deadpool, who may or may not pop up for about five minutes). There is swearing, violence (though in these days with The Walking Dead, there is not much worse you can see on TV,) and one very brief scene of nudity (it happens in the back of a limo when someone flashes Logan, but it is very quick and over in only a second or two). Nevertheless, High School and above only.

Even at a run time of 2 hours and 17 minutes, this movie does not seem to drag on (for the most part). My only really qualm with the film is not having that great of a villain (at least when measured against the greats like the Joker, Doc Ock, and Gene Hackman’s Lex Luthor). One way or the other, the film is sure to delight all, comic book fans or not.

Possibly the best thing about Logan is it reminds us of the most important element needed in any superhero/comic book movie.

 

That element is human.

 

Overall: Four Stars ****