One of the drawbacks of being a professional movie critic is that critics can’t afford to attend Broadway musicals. $20 bucks for a movie or hundreds of bucks for thee-a-tur? On a critic’s salary, the choice is a no-brainer. Now with my twenty firmly in my pocket, the critically-acclaimed musical Hamilton is finally available on Disney+, and now I understand the hype and hyperbole that is Lin-Manuel Miranda’s epic tour-de-force.
For the uninitiated, Disney’s Hamilton (yes, the movie opens with Cinderella’s castle) is the story of founding father Alexander Hamilton. It recounts his journey from a poor street kid to American Revolutionary leader to birthing a nation to his ultimate death in a duel with Aaron Burr—all told as a hip-hop musical. When I first heard what this play was, my immediate response was, “it’s a what about who?!?”
“…brilliantly shot and produced performance for posterity of one of America’s best contemporary musicals.”
This is going to be a relatively short review, because as they say, “it is what it is.” At best, Hamilton is a brilliantly shot and produced performance for posterity of one of America’s best contemporary musicals. It features the original cast nearing the end of its Tony-award winning run. With hundreds of performances, they’ve honed and perfected the play which is what’s presented on film. At worst, it’s merely “a what about who?!?”
The film uses three basic POV’s: a wide-angle from above capturing the entire stage and acton, a medium shot from floor level as if we’re in the audience, and occasional close-up for dramatic moments. Quite frankly, it’s hard to screw this up. The sound and music are flawless and comes pretty close to the original cast recording. The show’s producer should be commended for their foresight to capture the play on film with the original cast intact, including writer/composer/lyricist Lin-Manuel Miranda in the lead as Alexander Hamilton, Daveed Diggs, Renee Elise Goldsberry, Jonathan Groff, Christopher Jackson, Jasmine Cephas Jones, Leslie Odom, Jr., Okieriete Onaodowan, Anthony Ramos, Phillipa Soo.
"…features the original cast nearing the end of its Tony-award winning run."