The Greatest Showman Blu-ray Review

Joy-inducing, rousing musical cinema 4.5 Stars

The Greatest Showman is a simple story of rising against adversity and reaching to claim your rightful place in the world. It tells its story at a lightning-fast pace that jubilantly sweeps you up in the joy of the world and characters it shares. It’s a fantasy with just enough reality to work well, and with a collection of electric songs by Academy Award winners Benj Pasek & Justin Paul (La-La Land), some of which you’ll be humming for days (especially the infectious anthem, “This Is Me”), you can’t help but fall in love with this film.

The Greatest Showman (2017)
Released: 20 Dec 2017
Rated: PG
Runtime: 105 min
Director: Michael Gracey
Genre: Biography, Drama, Musical
Cast: Hugh Jackman, Michelle Williams, Zac Efron, Zendaya
Writer(s): Jenny Bicks (screenplay by), Bill Condon (screenplay by), Jenny Bicks (story by)
Plot: Celebrates the birth of show business, and tells of a visionary who rose from nothing to create a spectacle that became a worldwide sensation.
IMDB rating: 7.9
MetaScore: 48

Disc Information
Studio: Fox
Distributed By: N/A
Video Resolution: 1080P/AVC
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
Audio: English 7.1 DTS-HDMA, English PCM 2.0, Spanish 5.1 DD, Other
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French
Rating: PG
Run Time: 1 Hr. 45 Min.
Package Includes: Blu-ray, DVD, Digital Copy
Case Type: Standard with Slip Sleeve
Disc Type: BD50 (dual layer)
Region: A
Release Date: 04/10/2018
MSRP: $19.96

The Production: 4.5/5

“Hyperbole isn’t the worst crime. Men suffer more from imagining too little than too much.”

Phineas Taylor (P.T.) Barnum grew up poor and discarded, but he always dreamed big. As the son of a mistreated tailor, he adored the daughter of one of the rich families his father served. Despite the girl being sent away to school, they stayed in touch and when they were grown, set off together to build a life where Barnum pursued his dreams of making it big. After a rough start, Barnum is inspired to put together a spectacular show featuring societies shunned and mocked individuals. A giant, a bearded lady, conjoined twins, and others whom society tends to cross the street to avoid or stare at and taunt, these men and women found a place they could safely call home. Barnum’s hustle and quest for dazzling a paying crowd pays off, and his show is a hit, though not with the local theater critic or the growing crowds or protestors who want them gone. Barnum builds off the buzz off the naysayers and is able to purchase a lavish home for his adoring wife and daughters, but his pursuit of bigger and more threatens everything he’s built and to risk everything he loves dearly.

The Greatest Showman is an unadulterated delight; a cinematic smile from ear to ear. Directing his first feature, Michael Gracey delivers a number of rousing, energetic routines combined with wonderfully contemporary, pop-infused song numbers. It zips and slides through the life of P.T. Barnum, dancing and sprinting to just a handful of milestone moments in his life. It tends to gloss over the details, moving so fast that there is barely a moment of pause, but the resulting film is still fabulously entertaining. It’s more fantasy than biography, though I have no doubt that the film is grounded in several documented events in the real story of P.T. Barnum’s rise as the notorious showman known around the world. The film, when confronted with the legend or the truth, “prints the legend,” and while that makes for shaky biographical efficacy, it also makes for an impressive indulgence of emotion and warm feelings. And the pure sense of wonder, and enthusiastic performances and production, remind us why we love movies.

The Greatest Showman is filled to the rafters with fine performances, with none more impressive than the versatile Hugh Jackman. As Barnum, Jackman cuts a sympathetic figure ably performing quiet moments of contemplative, emotionally rapt songs that erupt frequently into full-blown charismatic displays of grandeur. He’s joined by a terrific cast of performers. Michelle Williams as Barnum’s wife, Charity, is strong and adoring of her husband, and Williams’ vocal and dance performances, while more understated than her fellow cast, are equally as good. Zac Efron plays playwright Phillip Carlyle, the man whom Barnum implores (in one of the film’s most entertaining numbers) to join his business venture and help raise its profile and respectability. Efron’s no stranger to song and dance performances. The former High School Musical star has branched out into more straight comedy features of late, but watching him deliver a mature musical performance here is a great reminder of his talents. Those talents are never more apparent than when he’s partnered with the terrific Zendaya who plays Anne Wheeler, one-half of the show’s trapeze act (with her brother W.D. Wheeler, played with commanding presence by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II). Zendaya’s emotional sensitivity and fortitude is captivating, and as a person shunned by society for the color of her skin, she resonates perhaps the most as we struggle as a society with bruising intolerance even today. Rebecca Furguson’s Opera singer Jenny Lind, with whom Barnum becomes taken, is very good. The vocal performance of the song “Never Enough”, sung by the character Furguson plays, is handled by Loren Allred, and it’s a wonderful song and powerful moment in the film. The remaining cast are compelling, but standouts are Keala Settle as Lettie Lutz, the bearded lady, whose performance of “This Is Me” still gives me goosebumps long after the credits have rolled. The other standout for me was Sam Humphrey as Tom Thumb, the man with short stature performing as Napoleon in the show. Sam’s rare genetic condition, skeletal dysplasia, doesn’t stand in his way as he delivers a memorable performance here.

This is the kind of film that stands on the mantle of the positive message of being yourself and embracing differences. An appeal to our humanity and a reminder to doggedly pursue our dreams and wishes, it could easily have been mired in a saccharine sensibility. But it never falls in that trap. The entire production, which resonates with a Broadway authenticity, moves at such a brisk pace and breaks out in to song and dance routines with such welcome frequency, that its unabashed positivity sweeps you away. It pulses with energy and feeling and is perhaps the most enthusiastically happy film I’ve seen in a long, long time.

Video: 5/5

3D Rating: NA

The Greatest Showman in high definition is a delight. Sumptuous black levels and contrast, excellent use and presentation of colors (red especially leaps off the screen). The level of detail is high, allowing for skin textures to come through and fabrics and other materials to show off with impressive clarity.

Set in the 1800s there’s a not unexpected brown hue to the palette, natural for the period, and bright light sources used many times (spotlights largely) never bloom. They’re crisp and the cinematography and use of light is very good throughout, and this video presentation really shows that off. This is a stunning looking Blu-ray.

Audio: 5/5

The film’s DTS 7.1 Master Audio is glorious. As you can imagine, the avalanche of musical routines offers plenty of opportunity for the audio to shine, and it does. The surrounds capture cheering crowds, feet-stomping and chorus vocals to envelope the audience.

Dialogue is clear in the center channel and even the couple of songs that start-out spoken, just above a whisper, are balanced nicely so that you can still hear the lyrics and be pulled in to the emotion of the scene. What a winner this audio is!

Special Features: 4/5

A surprisingly good collection of special features, including a deeply engaging review of every musical number and an equally interesting audio commentary from first-time feature director Michael Gracey. The sing-along version of the film will be of particular appeal to fans (and the ability to jump to a song is handy for those looking for a quick “fix”). There’s a look at the broader strokes of the production as well making sure they cover the key basics. But the real winner here is the more than hour-long review of the music (The Songs).

  • The Family Behind The Greatest Showman
  • The Songs
  • The Spectacle
  • Music Machine: with Sing Along
  • Director’s Audio Commentary
  • Sneak Peaks
  • Trailers

Overall: 4.5/5

The Greatest Showman is a simple story of rising against adversity and reaching to claim your rightful place in the world. It tells its story at a lightning-fast pace that jubilantly sweeps you up in the joy of the world and characters it shares. It’s a fantasy with just enough reality to work well, and with a collection of electric songs by Academy Award winners Benj Pasek & Justin Paul (La-La Land), some of which you’ll be humming for days (especially the infectious anthem, “This Is Me”), you can’t help but fall in love with this film.

Published by

Neil Middlemiss

editor,member

19 Comments

  1. I love what Hugh Jackman did for Cassidy, the young bullied school girl on Facebook.
    Before that, I was simply just a person who admired his talents;
    but this gesture, alone, locks it in for me. Blessings to both.
    BTW, Neil, I wholeheartedly agree with your review.:thumbs-up-smiley:

  2. PMF

    Once again?
    Somebody?
    What was the rationale behind "The Greatest Showman" being overlooked within its nominations by AMPAS?

    Easy. They considered other films superior in their categories.

  3. Seriously? – theses rave on here for this? I tried to give it the benefit of the doubt even with the Glee staged opening number but when Jenny Lind came out and struck a Taylor Swift pose and belted out drek I was pining for the Diva Plavalaguna to sing an actual aria! The real travesty here is that Side Show was not made ( same topic (freaks) but with a fantastic score) instead of this heavy handed, bang-me -with-a-hammer-political-correctness-poor-excuse of a musical.
    I’m appalled.

  4. noel aguirre

    Seriously? – theses rave on here for this? I tried to give it the benefit of the doubt even with the Glee staged opening number but when Jenny Lind came out and struck a Taylor Swift pose and belted out drek I was pining for the Diva Plavalaguna to sing an actual aria! The real travesty here is that Side Show was not made ( same topic (freaks) but with a fantastic score) instead of this heavy handed, bang-me -with-a-hammer-political-correctness-poor-excuse of a musical.
    I'm appalled.

    I guess that means you didn't like The Greatest Showman?;)

  5. Robert Crawford

    I guess that means you didn't like The Greatest Showman?;)

    I suspect the real reason is not so subtly hidden in the statement.

    I'll point out that "Inspired by a True Story" is Hollywood code for "Some of the names are real and some of the story line vaguely resembles history." I just saw it last night. Is it great film? Eh, probably not. Did I find it immensely entertaining? Hells yeah. Will it knock off Fiddler on the Roof on the list of Musical greatness? No Way. Do I want to watch it again? You bet!

    BTW, I gave up the concept of being appalled by what others perceive as great cinema when Forrest Gump and Crash won Best Picture.

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