The Greatest Showman
As promised. My Turn.
A song by song reaction:
"The Greatest Show"
You had me at the syncopated prancing horses entrance, stage right. Actually, you had me at the behind the bleachers silhouette start off point.
But, those horses! All counterpoint and percussion! This is slick, bold and camera choreographed to the hilt. The visuals along with the aural hit full force and though the film may be called The Greatest Showman, this song is The Greatest Salesman as it pulls out all the stops, demanding to be acknowledged, "Just surrender 'cause you feel the feeling taking over. It's fire, it's freedom, it's flooding open..." Visceral and as smirnoff has penned here on the boards, "Full of good will." Love the reverse of The Phantom of the Opera's opening transformation, but instead of a whole series of organ scales, it's accomplished in the span of a downbeat. The space is suddenly quiet and empty, as Barnum surveys what is and what will be.
I liked the horses, but it was the bleachers and the stark lighting that pulled me in immediately. I wasn't a fan of the song, and many of the songs here are extremely vanilla, as if the most important thing was to be radio friendly. However, the slick presentation and the way it transitions into the story is good.
"A Million Dreams"
Is Adult Contemporary still a genre. That's the vibe I get from these songs. It's a step up from La La Land in that this is closer to a true musical, but I'm thinking about Mark Kermode who said there isn't a memorable tune in the bunch and then reversed his position on a 2nd watch. I can see the songs growing on me, but except for two of them I have little interest in letting that happen.
There's an amazing bit of visual magic here when Jackman and Williams are dancing on the roof. He spins her towards the lines of sheets and two of them part like curtains, but ever so subtly, as if the breeze from Williams spinning briefly opened them for her.
Nice sister song to "The Greatest Show," and it picks up where "A Million Dreams" leaves off. From "I close my eyes and I can see," to "You're dreaming with your eyes wide open." Putting together the show with people from the fringes becomes the ultimate pep talk. "And we know we can't be go back again to the world that we were living in!"
Jackman's greatest gift to this film isn't his singing or dancing but the way he convincingly captures Barnum's ability to sell people on his dreams. The song is like an updated version of Miami Sound Machine's "Conga", but within the song we see Barnum work his magic on the artists and the audience.
"The Other Side"
Ugh. Can't abide this song. It's back to High School Musical with it's staccato verses then sweepy chorus rhythms and overly complicated execution coupled with a simplified message. "But I live among the swells, and we don't pick up peanut shells." Really? Okay. Hard Pass.
I didn't hate this as much as you, but they really bet the farm on the staccato lyrics, amped up by the rap-tap-tapping choreography. It's cool to see Zac hasn't turned his back on his musical chops, and it's strange to think he also belongs on the triple threat shortlist, possibly even more well-rounded than Tatum and Timberlake, though a distant 2nd compared to Jackman.
I also like the song ending with the shot of Zendaya literally swinging into Efron's life. The moment slows to a crawl. It deserves to. (I've only seen Zendaya in two movies, but she's got the makings of a triple threat too.)
The best and worst an ear worm song can offer. I love it now. I'm going to hate it soon. Oh well, it can't be helped.
I feel like a boy when I say Blech! That said, I like the reprise later on and I like how the lyrics fit Zac and Zendaya's story too.
"This Is Me"
Overheard from a YouTube clip, "After the election night of 2016, the movie subtly shifted. It stared out as a movie about the power of imagination and will and never give up on your dreams, but it grew into a deeper idea that what makes you different, makes you special. The director Gracie also noted that it's an incredible privilege to make a film about inclusivity and acceptance."
This is the song that evolved from the shift of focus in the film and it's everything a showstopper song with a message should be. "I'm not scared to be seen. I make no apologies, this is me."
The 2nd best song. With such a powerful message, the kind that deserves to be belted to the back of the theater, it'd be hard to screw this up. Still... well done, and there's that extra bit of movie magic where everyone jumps and they slow down while Lettie remains at regular speed. The song gets to take a breath until the group all land at the same moment.
"Rewrite The Stars"
Visually wowing, but the song is nothing special and it feels like filler. Wished for more, but it's serviceable, even if it's like Troy is singing again.
I like this one more than you. It's poppy, but I like the singers and by this point I was enjoying Z&Z's relationship more than Barnum and his love triangle.
Complete agreement about the song's approach being wrong and the lyrics underserving Williams. My least favorite song.
"From Now On"
My favorite song from the show.
Mine too. "And we will come back home,
And we will come back home,
The dancing in the bar is the film at its best, joyous and spirited. I watched it 4 times before starting this post. If the rest of the film was at this level I'd be buying the Blu-Ray.