Tag Archives: hugh jackman

THE GREATEST SHOWMAN (2017) – My rating: 8.5/10

The Greatest Showman is a musical drama directed by Michael Gracey in his directorial debut and written by Jenny Bicks and Bill Condon. The film is inspired by the story of P. T. Barnum’s creation of the Barnum & Bailey Circus and the lives of its star attractions.  The greatest showman is an important addition to the film industry as well as to audiences of all walks of life, as it depicts the life and horrors of the first and most popular circus in the world, at that time, which is now gone forever.

P. T. Barnum (Hugh Jackman) and his troupe perform a show at the circus (“The Greatest Show”). As the song continues, the background turns to black, with Barnum singing alone, leading to a flashback to Barnum’s childhood where he and his father Philo (Will Swenson), a tailor, work for the Hallett family, and he becomes infatuated with their daughter, Charity Hallett Barnum (Michelle Williams). Though Charity is being sent to finishing school, Barnum reassures her they will not be separated. The two keep in touch through letters until they meet again in adulthood (“A Million Dreams”), eventually marrying and raising two daughters, Caroline (Austyn Johnson) and Helen (Cameron Seely), in New York City (“A Million Dreams” reprise). They live a humble life; though Charity is happy, Barnum dreams of more.

Barnum loses his job as a clerk at a shipping company after the company goes bankrupt. Taking a risky bet, he takes out a large loan from a bank, deceiving the bank into accepting his former employer’s lost ships as collateral. He uses this loan to buy Barnum’s American Museum in downtown Manhattan, an attraction showcasing various wax models. Initially, sales are slow; on the suggestion of his children to showcase something “alive”, Barnum searches for “freaks” to serve as performers for his museum (“Come Alive”). This attracts a large audience despite protests and poor reviews, prompting Barnum to rename his venture “Barnum’s Circus”.

Searching for ways to further his reputation amongst the upper class, Barnum meets playwright Phillip Carlyle (Zac Efron) and convinces him to join his venture (“The Other Side”). Carlyle is enchanted with Anne Wheeler (Zendaya), an African-American trapeze artist, but he hides his feelings. During a trip Carlyle arranged for Barnum and his troupe to meet Queen Victoria (Gayle Rankin), Barnum meets Jenny Lind (Rebecca Ferguson), a famed Swedish singer, whom he convinces to perform in America, with him serving as her manager. Lind’s first American performance is a rousing success (“Never Enough”). While Barnum gains favor with the aristocratic patrons, he begins to distance himself from his original troupe, refusing to socialize with them. Dejected, they decide to stand against their local harassers (“This Is Me”).

Carlyle and Anne Wheeler attend the theater together one night, only to run into Carlyle’s parents, Mr. Carlyle (Byron Jennings) and  Mrs. Carlyle  (Betsy Aidem), who insult Wheeler’s lowly status, causing her to leave. Carlyle chases her and tries to convince her that they can be together, but she rejects him despite her feelings towards him (“Rewrite the Stars”). As Barnum takes Lind on a US tour, Charity feels isolated from her husband as she stays home with their daughters (“Tightrope”). While on tour, Lind begins falling in love with Barnum, but when he refuses her advances, she calls off the tour and kisses him at the end of her last show, which is photographed by the press (“Never Enough” reprise). Barnum returns home to find his circus on fire, caused by a fight between the protesters and the troupe. Carlyle, who had tried to save Anne not knowing she had already escaped, is rescued amid the chaos by Barnum but suffers severe burns. Most of the sets and props are destroyed. Word of Lind’s cancellation and Barnum’s public intimacy also reaches New York, resulting in his mansion being foreclosed upon and Charity taking Caroline and Helen back to her parents’ home.

Depressed, Barnum retreats to a local pub, where his troupe find him there and persuade him to rebuild the circus. Barnum has an epiphany that causes him to realize the circus was for his friends and family rather than for himself (“From Now On”). Meanwhile, the injured Carlyle wakes in a hospital with Wheeler by his side as they share a kiss.

The story get better and better when Barnum moves forward with a plan to save all — along with his friends and family, they work on creating The Greatest Show.  I found the remainder of this film touching and inspiring. The music was fantastic, the acting brilliant and the story worth every second of my time watching.  Hugh Jackman is a true inspiration and a very talented performer.  The Greatest Showman did not get it’s fair due, as I felt it should have been nominated for best picture, best actor and best director as well as best song.  I love this movie and highly recommend it to all.

[The Best Showman is Oscar nominated for Best Original Song, “This Is Me”.]

 

LOGAN (2017) – My rating: 8.7/10

Logan turns out to be a fantastic farewell to this third and final film solely focusing on Wolverine while opening up a host of possibilities as it says hello to a new chapter of young mutants. While I’m sad to see X-Men, as I knew it, fade into the sunset, I realize, we all get old. Today’s action films are so physical, it’s a wonder super heroes like Tony Stark last as long as they have. As you can see, the likes of Spiderman, Superman, Batman and Catwoman have all changed actors with many more to come. Logan (Hugh Jackman) happens to be a picture of beauty as far as the body goes however, we can’t account for what’s inside. While still looking good, he is now out of the action hero game, probably taking on roles more suited to his age. I must say, he did a fantastic job parting as Logan. Not only did he manage to keep up with the new young talent he also managed to look great doing it. The story was great, the acting was extraordinary and the special effects were spectacular. A little too much killing for my liking but that hardly seems to be a problem these days. I did feel some of the killings were unnecessary, as it would have been nice if some of the nicer people had lived, I’m just saying.

The final sequel is set in 2029.  James “Logan” Howlett, formerly known as Wolverine, (Hugh Jackman) has aged greatly because the adamantium fused to his bones has started poisoning him and impeding his healing factor, due to his body progressively growing weaker over the years. He spends his days working as a chauffeur and hustling prescription drugs in Texas. He and albino mutant Caliban (Stephen Merchant), who can sense and track other mutants, live in an abandoned smelting plant across the border in Mexico, where they care for Professor Charles Xavier’s (Patrick Stewart), who is suffering from a neuro-degenerative disease, which causes him to lose control of his telepathic abilities to a devastating effect. Charles is on major medication, and has to be looked after at all times, as well as kept hidden from society because of his superior brain power. Every time Charles misses taking his medication, he goes into seizure that caused catastrophic results, killing hundreds of people. This is why Logan solicited the help of Caliban, who is a mess himself. To make a bad situation worse, Logan reluctantly takes on an 11 year old girl Laura/x-23 (Dafne Keen) who is being sort after by cybernetically enhanced Donald Pierce, (Boyd Holbrook), Chief of Security for Transigen, an organization of cybernetically enhanced enforcers called The Reavers.  Logan’s story get very involved from this point, as Laura was made from his DNA so she is technically Logan’s daughter.  If you are an X-Men fan, Logan is a must see — if you are an action hero fan, Logan is still a must see.  All in all you will love this sequel, it’s history in the making and well played by all.

CHAPPIE (2015) – My rating: 7.5/10

ChappieDev Patel seems to be everywhere these days.  He is quite an actor.  In Chappie, played by Sharlto Copley, Dev plays Deon Wilson, a programmer who has become very successful creating robots that will serve as policemen in a heavy crime area.  Hugh Jackman plays Vincent Moore, another programmer who thinks his prototype is better than Deon’s but can’t get any play on his creation.  In the meanwhile, Deon has created a program, on his own time, that allows a robot to have a conscience, learn and think for himself.  When Deon pitches his program to Michelle Bradley (Sigourney Weaver) who is CEO of the company called Tetravaal, she shoots him down, even though it would cost her no money to test his new prototype.  This causes Deon to take matters into his hands by stealing a robot slated for demolition to use as a test pilot.  To add to Deon’s stress, Vincent finds out the robot is stolen and in Deon’s possession and decides to sabotage Deon’s efforts in order to get his prototype onto the streets.

I was somewhat thrilled during the first half of the movie but soon became disinterested because I felt Chappie started to get silly and unbelievable.  As the film was about 3/4 over, it started to pick up again.  Of course I can’t tell you what happens but I can say it ended up thrilling and interesting.  I think we are going to see a lot more of Chappie in the future.  You won’t believe what happens in the end.  I have to say, I was not prepared at all for the ending but it’s clear they set Chappie up for a sequel.  Chappie wasn’t the best movie about robots I’ve seen, but it held it’s own.

X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST (2014) – My rating: 9/10

XMenDaysOfFuturePastX-Men: Days of Future Past is one of the better films in the X-Men series.  It was clear, clean, crisp, entertaining and good story telling.  Wolverine/ Logan, played by Hugh Jackman, is sent back in time, to 1973, in hopes of stopping an event that would eliminate a fatal future for the Mutants and Humans as well.  As usual, the special effects are impeccable and the stellar cast, totally enjoyable.  I was happy to see former X-men like Ororo Munroe/Storm (Halle Berry) and Jean Grey/Phoenix (Famke Janssen ) back in this sequel.  Jennifer Lawrence has played the role of Raven/Mystique in the last 2 films and is eye candy whether she’s in human or mutant form.  The truly great surprise is Dr. Bolivar Trask, played by Peter Dinklage, who plays Tyrion Lannister in Game of Thrones.  I can’t say enough about Peter’s on screen presence and acting ability.  He is magic in any role he plays.  The question is can Charles Xavier/Professor X, played by both Patrick Stewart and James McAvoy and Eric Lehnsherr/ Magneto, played by both Ian McKellen and Michael Fassbender, really come together for a good cause?  Spend the time and money to see X-Men and find out.  This movie was rated high by the viewers who didn’t make a mistake — it’s really a good one.

[X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST is nominated for Visual Effect]

PRISONERS (2013) – My rating: 8.5/10

PrisonersPrisoners is one the most suspenseful movies I’ve seen in a while.  Who done it?  You won’t be able to figure this one out.  There are so many suspects, twist and plots that you’ll be literally sitting on the edge of your seat.  Two little girls go missing on Thanksgiving day.  Their families are shaken to near collapse.  One father is willing to go beyond the call of duty to get his daughter back.

I have some mixed feelings about this movie because the guessing game goes a little too far for my taste.  I can’t really explain this without creating “spoilers”.  Despite any reservations I might have, there is some great acting in this movie.  Hugh Jackman gave a phenomenal performance  showing why he will go down as one of the great and versatile  actors of our time.   Performances by Jake Gyllenhaal, Viola Davis, Maria Bello and Terrence Howard were outstanding. One of my favorite was the performance by Melissa Leo who has done a lot of TV as well as “Frozen River” which you can find on this site as one of the highly rated movies I’ve reviewed.  Normally, I wouldn’t suggest seeing a movie with no special effects, dancing or science fiction on the big screen but this one is a “see it now” kind of movie so I suggest that you invest your time and the price of a ticket.  I rate Prisoners 8.5 out of 10 because it really gets you thinking while you’re also entertained.

[PRISONERS is nominated for Achievement in Cinematography]