Viewed – 14 February 2018 Cinema
I can’t say I was particularly enthused at the prospect of seeing this, despite rave opinions from people I know who had been. I have a bit of an uneasy relationship with musicals, and they have to be particularly good to win me over. This based on true events depiction, has Hugh Jackman as P.T. Barnum, a man who rose from nothing to become one of the pioneers of show business as we know it.
I can’t say I was particularly familiar with the story but as soon as this started, I was transfixed. Jackman, who of course I mostly associate with Wolverine, is a revelation as Barnum and commands the screen with total, Hollywood magnetism and presence. His rags-to-riches story whilst somewhat clichéd is classic stuff and made me think of Charles Dickens books along with Rogers & Hammerstein musicals of yesteryear. You know – back when Hollywood did it right. Add at times breath-taking choreography and several stunning set pieces, with grand set design, colourful costumes and eye-catching cinematography and this was a real treat for the senses. The songs, if at times a little ‘samey’ are foot-tapping and enjoyable, aided by larger-than-life performances from also Zac Efron and Michelle Williams and a plethora of colourful characters … and well, sometimes it’s overwhelming but never boring.
The movie seems to stumble a little in a plot device with a famed Opera Singer and although essential to the story, takes things in a direction that isn’t quite as much fun … but then comes back again to deliver a great feel good ending that left me wanting to stand up and applaud. This movie’s been a bit snubbed by the Oscars and that’s a shame as really, a night out at the movies doesn’t get much better than this. Essential.
Verdict: 5 /5