Tag Archives: Hugh Jackman

The Greatest Showman: A Movie Review


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Greatest ShowmanThe Greatest Showman lives and dies on the performance of the five-tool utilizing, ridiculously talented, undeniably charismatic Hugh Jackman. His P. T. Barnum, the purveyor of the so-called “Greatest Show on Earth, is at the center of the movie and, if the film itself is not the greatest movie on Earth, its heart is surely in a very positive place. There is no spoiler in revealing that The Greatest Showman hits every note in the pre-ordained order the audience has come to anticipate. I have no problem with a film being precisely what it is advertised to be and giving the audience the experience it came to the theater to have. The Greatest Showman does that and, perhaps, a little bit more.

Jackman is delightful, singing and dancing his way through what has for years been a dream project. He commands each scene he is in (and he is in most of them) and is magnetic. His Barnum is earnest and ambitious in the first act, selfish and myopic in the short, second act and ultimately redeemed in the third. The movie works as well as it does because Jackman is so engaging and so good. Though the movie may not break much new ground, Jackman performs above the material as does the rest of the very talented cast.

Michelle Williams is having a nice December with this movie and All the Money in the World hitting theaters within days of each other. As it turns out, she has a terrific voice and she and Jackman are very good together. Williams’ Charity, the incredibly supportive wife and full partner to Jackman’s Barnum, never slips into stereotype in the actress’ hands. One wishes, in fact, she had more to do.

The Greatest Showman has a very classic structure which necessitates a lead couple (Jackman and Williams) and a secondary one. The movie gives us Zac Efron and Zendaya as the second pair of lovers. Zendaya’s star is on the rise and she is stunningly good as Anne Wheeler, a society outsider paired with Efron’s insider. If Efron is not quite as good as she, it can at least be noted he has matured from his High School Musical days into a more than respectable second lead. He can sing (not as well has Zendaya or Jackman), he can dance (see previous parenthetical) and he can act. The two of them together put a sharp focus on one of the things I liked most about the movie: its theme.

The movie celebrates those who are different, those who are outsiders, those who are ostracized by a society that does not understand them. The Barnum show created in the film is a big tent (pun intended) which admits all kinds of people, no matter class, station, appearance or preference. It is a place where people can be themselves and are, in fact, celebrated for being themselves. It is the kind of place of which this world needs more.

Just listen to the lyrics of This Is Me to get a good sense of the message of the movie.

The soundtrack is wonderful. The filmmakers made the decision to use modern musical styles and the choice pays off extremely well. There are Oscar nominees here. Watch for the aforementioned This Is MeNever Enough and/or Come Alive to get nods. It helps to have part of the team behind La La Land writing your lyrics…

The Greatest Showman does not subvert expectation. It does not rewrite the rules of movie musicals. It does not blow the audience away. What it does is briskly entertain. It is a fable painting a picture of an inclusive world – singing about places where all are welcome – and there is something good about that. There is something good about a movie that wears its dreams on its sleeve and pins itself to the charisma of its leads. There is something very good about The Greatest Showman. If one cannot smile during this movie, one might need to wonder why…

 

THE GREATEST SHOWMAN receives FOUR out of a possible FIVE RING CIRCUS.

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Logan – A Movie Review


Related Content from And There Came A Day



logan-imax-posterTouted as star Hugh Jackman’s last turn as Wolverine, everyone’s favorite, violent, foul-mouthed mutant, Logan was under substantial pressure to deliver something truly remarkable in this final chapter.

Rest assured, it does.

From the moment the first black-and-white, Johnny Cash scored preview premiered, audiences knew that Logan was unlike any other X-Men movie that proceeded it. Previews are tricky things and can strike tones or allude to stories that the final films do not deliver. That first look at Logan indicated a movie that was moody, dark and laden with heavy themes. If anything, the actual film is more moody, dark and theme heavy than anything the trailer promised.

If we want our Wolverine violent, we have a hyper-violent take on the character here. If we want him foul mouthed, be aware that one of the first words he speaks is the F-word. If we want him unrelenting, well, you get the drift.

Logan tells the story of a Wolverine who has given up superhero-ing and has become a Uber driver in a semi-post apocalyptic south western American wasteland. Supporting and bickering with an ailing Professor X (played with tragic comedy by the always impressive Patrick Stewart), Logan has turned his back on his past and is simply looking for a way to survive his present – a present that sees his mutant healing factor failing and his dependence on alcohol growing. While this life is not what anyone would consider peaceful, its predictability is disrupted when Logan crosses paths with Laura, a young girl who may or may not be the first mutant in the world since an unnamed, but darkly referenced, event wiped mutant-kind from the map. How Logan is changed and what he discovers within himself following his contact with Laura is what drives the film.

Laura is played by Dafne Keen who turns in the third of three remarkable performances by children I have recently seen (the other two being Sunny Pawar in Lion and Alex Hibbert in Moonlight). She is magnetic, energetic and engaging. She is also a bit hard to watch as the film has Laura do some decidedly unchildlike things. Her chemistry with Jackman’s Logan is perfect and their relationship is the underpinning for both the plot and the themes of the movie.

Jackman is terrific in this role and has been since 2000’s (can it be that long?) X-Men rocketed him to fame. What is very smart about this movie, and Jackman had control over this direction, is that this version of the character is different that the other ones audiences have seen Jackman play. We have seen the berserk Wolverine, the anti-social Wolverine, the comic Wolverine, the heroic Wolverine. What we had not seen before Logan is the essence of the character: the Wolverine who never wanted to be a hero and would do almost anything to escape people’s notice, to live out of the spotlight, to flee any recognition.

If only his past would allow it.

Logan is a brutal movie. It is violent and dark and, while there are glimmers of hopefulness, it plays far more like Unforgiven than it does like X-Men: Days of Future Past. This is a good thing. It allows Jackman to reinvent the character, if only for one last ride.

And it is a very good ride, indeed.

Do not try too hard to figure out where in the canon of the X-Men movies Logan fits or how those films fed in to this one. Logan exists in something of a tangent universe to those movies, and it is all the better for it.

Superhero franchises are developing a tendency to be too interconnected and are beginning to show signs of sagging under that weight. James Mangold, writer and director of Logan seems to have said, “I’ll make the movie but I get to ignore almost everything that’s come before it.” Good call.

There were a lot of kids in the screening of Logan The Cinnamon Girl and I attended. Parents, beware: this is an R-rated movie for a reason. This is not about off color language, though there is plenty of that. Logan has the most bloody and violent battles in any superhero movie. Ever. Be warned.

If this is truly Hugh Jackman’s last time as Wolverine – and all indications are that it is – he picked a winner to finish up his work. Though not entirely hope-filled (but it does have its moments) and not entirely cheery (though there are laughs to be found), Logan is thematically rich, deeply felt and wonderfully complex. It is a very good movie.

LOGAN receives FOUR AND A HALF POPPING CLAWS out of a possible FIVE. 

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Wolverine: The Musical – UPDATED WITH BETTER LINK!

My good friend The Junior Senator called this particular video “blog bait” for me.

He was right.

No set up needed for this one. Just watch.

HERE.

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Hugh Jackman Seems VERY Cool

jackman

Seems that the Wolverine, accepting an award in Zürich this past week, recognized an interviewer as a former student of his from when Hugh Jackman taught PE at a boarding school.

This is good stuff and suggests a good natured, humble man inhabits Wolverine and Jean Valjean.

You can see it from BBC news HERE.

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The Wolverine – A Movie Review

First things first: I love me some Hugh Jackman. Maybe I don’t have Kate and Leopold-type love, but I do have Swordfish-level love. He’s compelling and commits fully to every role and, yes, easy on the eyes. Though Wolverine is not my favorite comic book character and the X-Men are not my favorite comic book heroes, there was no chance that I wouldn’t be seeing The Wolverine. There was little chance I wouldn’t see it on opening night.

Opening night it was. 3D by chance – it was the time that worked for the family – and, boy, was that a waste of an upcharge. There are some 3D films that really pop out at an audience. This wasn’t one of them. In fact, I cannot think of one moment where the 3D really took me or enhanced the film. If you see The Wolverine, don’t worry about 3D.

I liked the movie quite a bit. What surprised me after seeing it (and I remain surprised a few days following the viewing) is that there is an awful lot going on thematically in the movie. Any film that opens up with the bombing of Nagasaki better have broader things on its mind than Jackman popping his claws, and The Wolverine does. I wasn’t expecting a meditation on re-birth – perhaps I should have been considering Wolverine’s particular power set – but, inasmuch as a superhero movie can delve deeply into such a concept, The Wolverine does. And does so fairly subtly through a number of different plot threads. There’s some material here for later consideration – more than I found in Avengers or Iron Man 3 or Man of Steel. I didn’t expect that.

I also didn’t expect how cheesy the third act would be – shockingly cheesy, by-the-way – but more on that in a paragraph or two.

Wolverine

Jackman is as great as I expected and he certainly looks the part. Ripped. Shredded. Whatever word you want to choose. He transforms himself into Wolverine (who is, interestingly enough, never referred with the article “the” in the comics) and has been worth watching in all the X-Men movies – even X-Men 3. We tend to lionize Robert Downey, jr’s performance as Tony Stark, but I would argue Hugh Jackman inhabits Wolverine just as effectively.

The supporting cast is uniformly solid, save Svetlana Khodchenkova as Viper. My goodness, she’s painful. Her audition must have been nothing like her performance. One wonders why director James Mangold didn’t Eric Stoltz her from the film. Bracketing her, the other actors measure up to the bar Jackman sets particularly Rila Fukushima as Yukio and Ken Yamamura as young Yashido. Both share significant screen time with Jackman and their scenes energize the film. They are the most critical characters beyond Wolverine and it was important that they could carry that weight.

They do. A long time.

Another surprising element of the film is the love triangle that is on display here. With Wolverine’s subconscious drifting toward a former lover in Famke Jansen’s Jean Grey while his conscious world is becoming increasingly tied up with Tao Okamoto’s Mariko. Okamoto is very solid in her role. It’s a less flashy role than either Yukio or Jean and it treads the damsel in distress roads that we’ve seen all-too-many times in other films far too closely to be revelatory. She’s good. She’s good enough, but a stronger performance would have helped the film.

There are some stunning visuals in The Wolverine. The Nagasaki scenes are arresting. There is a high speed battle on a Japanese bullet train that took my breath away. Wolverine’s battle with a horde of ninjas on the way to save Mariko is really amazing – if we forgive the fact that the ninjas subdue Wolverine as he’s trying to storm a stronghold only to deliver him to the very same stronghold! The Wolverine is a well made film.

But it’s almost undone by it’s third act. The third act is a mess of comic-booky concepts that seem utterly out-of-place in the world the film has generated. It’s got villains monologuing, bad CGI and an all too pat resolution. The Wolverine is not alone among superhero films in these flaws, but the end of the film really lets down the promise of the beginning.

HOWEVER, the mid-credits stinger MORE THAN makes up for the deficiencies of the third act. It’s actually worth the price of admission and I won’t spoil it here. I want to, but I won’t.

The Wolverine has grand ambitions it doesn’t quite reach, but it is worth a view by more than comic book lovers. Jackman’s performance should please an audience. The deeper themes of the film should challenge an audience. The Nagasaki moments should affect an audience.

The Wolverine receives three-and-a-half Popped Claws out of a possible five.

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And There Came Hugh Jackman…

One has to wonder just how popular the film version of Wolverine would be if the character was embodied by someone other than Hugh Jackman. Jackman is such an appealing actor, it’s impossible to conceive of the role played by anyone else. Of course, many know that he was, in fact, almost played by a different actor. If you’re a Wolverine-o-phile, take a look HERE.

This is from comicbookresources.com.

These are some interesting tidbits about the most popular X-Man.

Wolverine Evolution

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And There Came Another Superhero Movie – The Wolverine!

Opening this Friday is the latest X-Men movie The Wolverine.

I know this movie isn’t generating Avengers-like anticipation, even in me, but I must say that I do love Hugh Jackman in the role. He has played the character more than any other actor has played a superhero on screen even including Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury – whopping SEVEN times!

The character has been around for years and you can see a run down of his greatest stories HERE.

652777-the-wolverine

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