Critic Proof: Our Review of ‘Hamilton’ on Disney +

Posted in Disney +, What's Streaming? by - July 03, 2020
Critic Proof: Our Review of ‘Hamilton’ on Disney +

It’s the film that 2020 needed…and it’s not even really a film…

Hamilton which is on the Disney + service as we speak is such a watershed pop culture moment that it’s OK that it’s just a multi camera shoot of the stage play.  Rarely does material this smart and this damn entertaining hit any kind of screen.

Hamilton is the real life of one of America’s foremost founding fathers and first Secretary of the Treasury, Alexander Hamilton.  Filmed live on Broadway from the Richard Rodgers Theatre with the original Broadway cast, the magic of the stage show comes home to masses.

Let’s be clear on something, Hamilton isn’t a movie; it’s a filmed version of a stage play.  However what it does do is puts in the room of the hottest ticket across any medium in the past 5 years and it makes us feel the electricity of the music, the intelligence and the moment that Lin-Manuel Miranda has made which will last in the cultural ethos long after many of us have taken our last breath.

Director Thomas Kail brings his work from the stage to the screen with real aplomb and while we undoubtedly lose a little bit of the natural energy from the stage seeing this on screen but not by much, it works and it works well.  Having done Fosse/Verdon and Grease Live, Kail knows how to keep the focus on the stage and allowing the mass of talent to come through as needed.  It’s electric and gives us a very specific focus like we the audience are somewhere between the front row and third row centre in the grand hall.  It’s not cinema in the strictest sense of the word, but Kail kept it as true to the original presentation as he could which makes it all the more fantastic as Lin-Manuel Miranda and this stacked ensemble jumps off the screen in an effort that was just as impressive from a technical standpoint as it was from an emotional and visual one which is where the real power of the historical material stands.

There’s no doubting the culture importance of Hamilton right now, not just culturally but socially as well as the essence of the material is just so alive that it keeps you bristling with energy and enthusiasm at every turn.  Taking from the book by Ron Chernow for inspiration, Miranda takes this story putting it into the romantic prose of rhyme and a variety of different musical styles which allow the cast that includes the likes of Leslie Odom Jr, Daveed Diggs, Chris Jackson, Jonathan Groff, Anthony Ramos, Phillipa Soo and Renee Elise Goldsberry to simply soar, not just individually but together.  On paper this shouldn’t have been nearly as entertaining as it actually was, that was all Miranda’s presentation as he turns history into music you sing along with and dance to.

As a fan of musical theatre, I was undeniably worried that this presentation would simply be pleasant and nice, while lacking any kind of culturally vibrancy but thankfully I was very wrong.

I still can’t call Hamilton ‘cinema’ in the purest sense of the word, but in a world where an adaptation of Cats needs a $100 Million + to get made and subsequently flop with bad performances and digital cat anuses…maybe doing a multi camera shoot of a stage show in an immersive fashion is the new age of Musical Theatre on the big screen…and I’m OK with that.

In these days of COVID-19 where we’re literally discourage from leaving the house and going to large events like a stage play…this isn’t just the next best thing, it might actually be as good as being there on Broadway.

Sign up for Disney + and get swept away in one of the singular pieces of creative genius of the 21st century, as often as you damn well please.

This post was written by
David Voigt is a Toronto based writer with a problem and a passion for the moving image and all things cinema. Having moved from production to the critical side of the aisle for well over 10 years now at outlets like Examiner.com, Criticize This, Dork Shelf (Now That Shelf), to.Night Newspaper he’s been all across his city, the country and the continent in search of all the news and reviews that are fit to print from the world of cinema.
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