Fresh on 4K: ‘THE GREATEST SHOWMAN’ dazzles with its lush, crystal clear HD presentation

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Connor Bynum // Film Critic

THE GREATEST SHOWMAN

Rated PG, 105 minutes.
Director: Michael Gracey
Cast: Hugh JackmanMichelle WilliamsZac EfronZendaya and Rebecca Ferguson

Musical films are often seen as a gamble for Hollywood studios. The same can be said even more so for those not based on a stage production with an established fan base.

20th Century Fox took such a bet on THE GREATEST SHOWMAN, which released last year to mixed reviews and a single Oscar nomination. However, the film has garnered somewhat of a cult following throughout its theatrical run. With its release onto 4K UHD Blu-ray, now is a perfect time as any to see what all the fuss is about.

Movie Grade: B-

From our theatrical review:

“Featuring a pleasantly diverse array of songs from the Oscar-winning team behind [2016’s] acclaimed LA LA LAND, THE GREATEST SHOWMAN vastly succeeds in its attempts to bring song and dance back to their former glory. Rarely do these musical numbers feel forced or distracting and are often accompanied by nearly perfect choreography. It’s no secret [Hugh Jackman] has an undying passion for the genre, and it’s near impossible not to see that the actor has poured his heart and soul into the project.”

Read the full review here.

The cast of ‘THE GREATEST SHOWMAN.’ Courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox.

Video/Audio Grade: A

THE GREATEST SHOWMAN joins the slowly but surely growing list of films presented in native 4K rather than being upscaled from lower resolutions. As one would imagine, the difference is spectacular. Details on the period-inspired costumes are wonderfully clear, as well as virtually every sequence within the circus itself. These intricate musical numbers really showcase the spectacle that only 4K can deliver. Each of the performers carry a unique visual style that warrants repeat viewings just to take in all that the picture has to offer.

Colors are vivid and darker scenes thrive with the inclusion of HDR. P.T. Barnum’s iconic red jacket contrasted with the backlit bleachers in the opening number set the bar for visual brilliance high from the start and thankfully maintains such a standard all the way through. “The Other Side” looks particularly magnificent as a reference for the use of well balanced black and white tones. Overall, this is a glorious presentation that can be appreciated by those who aren’t that fond of musicals in the first place.

And what good would a musical film be without a proper audio track? The Dolby Atmos track provides a fantastic mix for the opening number’s bombastic chorus contrasted with Jackman’s soft utterance of his opening lines. Through and through, this is an audio track to write home about and it shines just as brightly as the visuals.

Extras Grade: A

There are only three extras that made their way onto the 4K disc, which are nice, but strictly audio related. The director’s commentary, a sing-along version, and “Music Machine” (essentially a playlist of all the musical numbers).

The other extras sadly remain on the included Blu-ray disc, but they are absolutely worth your time. One featurette in particular, titled simply “The Songs,” takes an in depth examination of each of the film’s nine tracks, from their conception to execution — and it is a fascinating portrayal of the creative process. Songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul are bursting with enthusiasm during their interviews and viewers are given a rare glimpse into early versions and even rehearsal performances in their entirety. In what could have been only a peak behind the curtain, it is refreshing to see 20th Century Fox give us a full back stage pass.

All special features:

  • The Family Behind The Greatest Showman
  • The Songs
  • The Spectacle
  • Galleries
    • Concept Art 
    • Storyboards 
  • Music Machine
  • Sing Along
  • Audio Commentary by Michael Gracey
  • Theatrical Trailers

Final Grade: A-

While a film such as this is certainly not without its flaws, THE GREATEST SHOWMAN soars to breathtaking heights in this masterful 4K presentation.

About author

Preston Barta

I have been working as a film journalist since 2010, dividing the first four years between radio broadcasting and entertainment writing in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex. In 2014, I entered Fresh Fiction (FreshFiction.tv) as the features editor. The following year, I stepped into the film critic position at the Denton Record-Chronicle, a daily North Texas print publication. My time is dedicated to writing theatrical film reviews, at-home entertainment columns, and conducting interviews with on-screen talent and filmmakers, as well as hosting a podcast devoted to genre filmmaking (called My Bloody Podcast). I've been married for seven happy years, and I have one son who is all about dinosaurs just like his dad.