“Hamilton”- Movie Review
Finally, after years of watching the Hamilton hype train stroll on by, I can now say that I’ve stepped foot onto the bandwagon, albeit under special circumstances. The filmed version of the Broadway musical was slated for a theatrical release, but, similarly with Artemis Fowl, it was pushed to Disney+. It’s a shame because it would’ve been cool to at the very least see the show on the big screen and hear the music boom through the surround-sound. But it is what it is. On the upside, I got to see the show for cheap. So I’ll take that as a silver lining.
For the few of you who’ve been living under a rock for the past six years, Hamilton is the brainchild of actor and songwriter Lin-Manuel Miranda. The musical chronicles the life of Alexander Hamilton, from his youth as an orphan immigrant to his career as the first Treasury Secretary and a Founding Father of the United States of America. The show debuted in 2015, and has since garnered widespread acclaim from critics and audiences alike.
And I can definitely see why. When the film began, I’ll admit the overall production took some getting used to. Part of it has to do with the fact that I’ve seen very few Broadway musicals, let alone taped ones like this, so the format was a bit unusual for me. In addition, I didn’t know what I was getting into. Aside from the basic premise, the only thing I knew about Hamilton was that it was popular. Nothing else. So you can understand how taken aback I was as the story unfolded in front of me. The physical set was static, barely changing. The overall production was minimalistic in terms of props and the like. The Les Mis consistency of the music caught me off guard. Everything I expected to be ordinary wound up being extraordinary.
The level of ingenuity on display is mindblowing. Between this and Moana, I’m convinced Lin-Manuel Miranda is a genius. The music is a beautiful cocktail of hip hop, R&B, pop and traditional Broadway tunes. This combined with cleverly written and delivered lyrics makes for a cornucopia of addictively catchy songs. The entire show is ripe with energy. As a narrative, it chugs along at a pretty steady pace. The performers do a good job at portraying the passage of time and changes in location within a single stage setting. They manage to cover a lot of history without comvoluting their story. The information comes at you quickly, rapid firing at times, and if you’re not careful, you could miss a few tidbits. I personally never had that problem, but some Hamilton newbies might.
In terms of performances, what can I say? This is a stellar cast. It’s awesome to see people of color in the spotlights, and what’s even more awesome is seeing them put their all into their roles. There are so many standouts- Daveed Diggs, Renne Elise Goldsberry, Leslie Odom Jr., Jonathon Groff, Anthony Ramos to name a few. Ironically, Lin-Manuel Miranda is probably the weakest aspect of the cast, given he doesn’t quite measure up in terms of vocal power. Though what he lacks in magnitude he makes up for in quality. Miranda puts so much passion, energy and personality into his performance that this minute issue can be easily overlooked.
What can’t be overlooked are all of the performers in general. The choreography they’re working with is absolutely insane, and because the show is filmed so well you’re able to see every movement and every detail. Just thinking about how they put together these numbers gives me a headache, but I mean that in a good way.
In the end, I’m glad to have finally seen Hamilton, even on the smaller screen. It’s by far one of the most entertaining musicals I’ve seen in a long time. Is it one of my favorites? Don’t know yet. I need more time for it to sink in. But I assure you I’ll be jamming to the soundtrack for a very long time.