No-Spoilers Movie Reviews: THE GREATEST SHOWMAN

The Greatest Showman


The Greatest Showman
From the first notes in the opening song, I was on board for this exuberant tale of a creative and imaginative man, P.T. Barnum (Hugh Jackman, amazing as always), trying to feed his family. The subplots involving a forbidden romance and the struggle of the circus’ “unusual” people to gain acceptance in society are as compelling as the main story. #diversity #equity #inclusion

The music and lyrics, and the amazing aerial choreography in one scene will leave you breathless and clamoring for more. I, for one, am thrilled to have new songs for karaoke. Bravo to songwriters Benj Pasek and Justin Paul, the Oscar-winning lyricists of La La Land. (Did I mention Zac Efron plays a major role? Great to see him return to his [High School] Musical roots.)

The Verdict: See this on the big screen today.

Screenwriters: Jenny Bicks, Bill Condon. Director: Michael Gracey
Running Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes. Rated PG

Star Wars: The Last Jedi
Finally, some real (non-cheesy) humor in a Star Wars movie. Purists may cringe, but I see the clever one-liners (influenced by The Avengers and Carrie Fisher’s sense of humor) as refreshing and exactly what this aging franchise needs. Measured doses of the adorable and hilarious Porg critters don’t hurt, either. They’re mostly for merch, but still.

The humor, the badass female protagonist, and the focus on diverse and complex characters are what’s helping make the Star Wars universe both entertaining and relevant to 21st century audiences. Is the perpetually tormented Kylo Ren good or bad? As Sirius Black told Harry Potter, “We’ve all got both light and dark inside us. What matters is the part we choose to act on. That’s who we really are.”

I can hardly wait for Rey and Kylo’s next encounter. (We’ll have to content ourselves with Solo: A Star Wars Story in the meantime.)

The Verdict: See this on the big screen today.

Screenwriter: Rian Johnson (based on characters created by George Lucas)
Director Rian Johnson. Running Time: 2 hours, 32 minutes. Rated PG-13

Some of you may think, as I did, “An animated kids’ movie? No way.” But you’d be cheating yourself of a great story focusing on love of family, and a message all creatives can relate to: even when no one supports or believes in you, you must pursue your dream of making music (or writing, or dancing or painting, etc.). Your art feeds your soul. It’s part of you. And you can’t live without it.

The Verdict: See this on the big screen today.

Screenwriters Lee Unkrich, Jason Katz, Matthew Alrich. Directors: Lee Unkrich and Adrian Molina. Running Time: 1 hour, 45 minutes. Rated PG

The Shape of Water
If any movie could be described as poetry, this one can. Fairy tale, fantasy, science fiction, magical realism…whatever you want to call it, it’s amazing. All the lead actors are in the zone, including the one who plays “the asset.” Guillermo del Toro, like Baz Luhrmann, dreams boldly, and we’re fortunate to get a glimpse into his world.

P.S. Leave the kiddos at home.

The Verdict: See this on the big screen today.

Screenwriters: Guillermo del Toro and Vanessa Taylor. Director Guillermo del Toro.
Running Time: 2 hours, 3 minutes. Rated R.

(Kudos! Coco, The Greatest Showman, and The Shape of Water won Golden Globe Awards.)

Movies available online, or on DVD at your local library or Redbox

Twin Peaks (2017)
We finished watching all 18 “parts” of this motion picture a few days ago, then went back to the beginning and started all over again. Yup, it’s that good. As in five-minute standing ovation good. Our stamp of approval? We bought the DVD set. Weird, wonderful, and worth the 25-year wait. Mark Frost and David Lynch, thank you.

Spider-Man: Homecoming
Fresh-faced, funny, and full of enthusiasm. This is the Spider-Man we’ve been waiting for. British actor Tom Holland vibrates with energy throughout this origin story and reboot of the franchise.

Notable: Peter’s best friend and his crush are among Academic Decathlon brains who actually look like high school students rather than twenty-somethings. And the running joke about Peter’s Aunt May (Marisa Tomei) being a “hot Italian woman” provides more levity.

As with all Marvel movies, you’ll want to sit through the credits to see a bonus scene, as well as a final installment of the hilarious public service announcements – starring one of The Avengers – sprinkled throughout the film.

Blade Runner: The Final Cut
No doubt, many moons have passed since you last watched Blade Runner (which was based on a Philip K. Dick novel). I hadn’t planned on revisiting it, but trailers for the sequel, Blade Runner 2049 piqued my interest in the fabled “director’s cut” that famously eliminated the opening voice-over and replaced the “happy” ending with the original version that focus groups deemed too dark.

Of all seven versions, this is the one director Ridley Scott had complete creative control over, and it shows. The opening scenes are more powerful without the protagonist’s voice-over, and the ending is realistic and satisfying. Do your homework and watch this before you see Blade Runner 2049.

Blade Runner 2049
Yes, a few modern audience members may find some scenes drawn-out (Look! It’s Ryan Gosling walking verrrrrrry slowly across an amazing landscape. Again.) But we hardcore fans love the compelling story, the look, and the feel of this sequel, which honors the original film. Well done, director Denis Villenueve.

Katherine Valdez fell in love with movies, books, and music at an early age. She believes in the power of storytelling, no matter the genre or medium.

Subscribe to her Secrets of Best-Selling Authors blog at Type your email address in the Follow box, then watch for the confirmation to complete the process.

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Read more No-Spoilers Movie Reviews:

July 2017: Wonder Woman, Beauty and The Beast, The Girl On The Train, The Last Word

May 2017: Obsession (starring Jude Law’s pecs)

February 2017: La-La Land

December 2016: Manchester By The Sea

July 2016: Warcraft

July 21, 2016: The Secret Life of Pets

September 2015: Terminator: Genysis, Trainwreck, Tommorrowland, Ex Machina, Welcome to Me

September 24, 2015: The Fantastic Four, The Maze Runner: Scorch Trials, Mistress America, The Skeleton Twins, Django Unchained, Vampire Academy, Pride and Prejudice, Austenland 

July 2015: Jupiter Ascending, Pitch Perfect 2, Jurrassic World, Spy, Mad Max: Fury Road, Far From The Madding Crowd, The Clouds of Sils Maria, Authors Anonymous, Fifty Shades of Grey


  1. Quite the wrap-up! I need to see Coco and The Shape of water. Did you see Trai didn’t like The Shape of Water? I wonder what I will think. I know people who loved it and those who did not.

    Teresa R. Funke

    Author, Speaker, Writer’s Coach

    Find me on Facebook , Linked In, and You Tube or read my blog, Bursts of Brilliance for a Creative Life at:

    • Thanks for commenting, Teresa! People applauded at the end of The Greatest Showman! Maybe everyone is eager for feel-good entertainment after the discombobulation of 2017. I didn’t see Trai’s review of Shape but will look it up! The movie felt very fresh and original to me, with interesting characters, beautiful cinematography, costumes, and sets in blues and greens.

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