This past Tuesday, I saw Darkest Hour and with that, the final movie I’ll watch in 2017. So this will be part one of a two part final movie reviews. Then, I’ll do a top 10 best list describing my favorite movies from 2017 as well as some other categories. But for now, onto the reviews.
The Greatest Showman
The Greatest Showman is directed by Michael Gracey and stars Hugh Jackman, Zac Efron, Michelle Williams, and Rebecca Ferguson. Jackman plays P.T. Barnum and the story is about how he started what’s now called Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus. It’s ironic that this movie was in production for 8 years and happened to be released the same year the actual circus shut down after 146 years. What’s important to know is that this is not a biopic of P.T. Barnum. The movie’s story is very loosely based off of his life, thus there are many changes from the real-life story. For example, Barnum created his circus when he was 60, but Jackman is only 49 and he wears no makeup that makes him look older.
The movie’s story is very simple. It shows how Barnum goes from having nothing to opening a successful circus with unique people such as the bearded lady, a very tall man, very fat man, a little person, and so on. Then it shows how he got greedy, lost almost everything he built because of it, and how he corrects everything in the end. It’s a simple story that’s ok. There’s no depth with any of the characters, but they are pleasant enough. The action is ok. Jackman overacts a bit, but you can tell that he’s having a lot of fun. Surprisingly, ex-Disney channel star Zac Efron acted the best here, playing Barnum’s partner. This is a musical and the songs are overall disappointing in my view. Instead of music that would have been typical of the 1800’s, all the songs here are modern pop songs. They are pleasant to listen to, but generic and forgettable. Only one song, “This Is Me”, stood out. The musical choreography and stunts are done quite well however.
In the end, The Greatest Showman is an ok movie musical that has a feel-good vibe to it. However, it is bland and generic in almost every way. If you like musicals or feel-good movies, you will probably like this. I was in the minority at the screening. I could hear people crying during parts and almost everyone clapped when the end credits started to roll. But as for me, a guy who’s not really a musical fan, this was a pleasant enough, but forgettable movie. I give it a 50%. By the way, this is a PG rated movie and I would say that this is safe for older children to watch.
The Shape of Water
The Shape of Water is written and directed by Guillermo del Toro. It stars Sally Hawkins, Michael Shannon, Rickard Jenkins, and Octavia Spencer. The story focuses on Elisa, played by Hawkins. She’s a mute woman who works as a janitor at a government research facility in 1962 Baltimore. While working, she notices scientists bring in a creature that looks like a combination of a fish and human. They experiment on the creature, thinking that it might help the US in the space race. When no one is around, Elisa goes to where the creature is held out of curiosity. She then starts communicating with the creature and forms a romantic bond with it. Eventually, she decides to break the creature out of the facility after she learns it’s going to be killed. It’s a very unique story, so I won’t reveal more.
This original story is a little bit like Splash or Beauty and the Beast, but is easily the most unique movie I’ve seen this year. It is a rather strange story. What you think will happen doesn’t happen and what you think will never happen does happen. It makes for a simple but odd story that may turn a few people off. As for me, it felt odd at first, but by the middle, it won me over. Once I decided to just go with the flow, I enjoyed this movie. At its heart, this is a simple, sweet romance story with bits of drama, fantasy, sci-fi, horror, thriller, and even a little social commentary thrown in. The cinematography is great as this movie looks beautiful. The music score from Alexandre Desplat is very lovely to listen to, and the acting performances across the board are good, though not great. The characters are investing as they’re an outcast in some way. Eliza for example can’t talk and she feels the creature is the only one who can understand her. Even the villain here has a feeling of being incomplete.
In the end, this is a strange movie, but ultimately very charming and original, especially in this time of sequels and reboots. The movie takes a little time to get going and it’s a bit too gory. Still, I give this an 80%. If you want to see something that’s different, then this is the movie for you.