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Hamilton (2020) Review

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Hamilton

Time: 160 Minutes
Cast:
Daveed Diggs as Marquis de Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson
Renée Elise Goldsberry as Angelica Schuyler
Jonathan Groff as King George III
Christopher Jackson as George Washington
Jasmine Cephas Jones as Peggy Schuyler and Maria Reynolds
Lin-Manuel Miranda as Alexander Hamilton
Leslie Odom Jr. as Aaron Burr
Okieriete Onaodowan as Hercules Mulligan and James Madison
Anthony Ramos as John Laurens and Philip Hamilton
Phillipa Soo as Eliza Hamilton
Director: Thomas Kail

The original Broadway production of the award-winning musical that tells the story of Alexander Hamilton (Lin-Manuel Miranda), first secretary of the treasury, blending hip-hop, jazz, R&B and Broadway styles, filmed from the Richard Rogers Theater in New York.

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I heard about the acclaimed musical Hamilton for some time. Outside of one song however, I really didn’t know much about it, aside from it being about the founding fathers and Lin-Manuel Miranda being the person who created it. With one of the showings being put on Disney+ however, I knew I should probably watch it and see for myself if it worked for me. I’m glad to say that it very much did work for me, and I had a great time with it.

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Reviewing Hamilton is a bit weird, I’m essentially reviewing a musical, and it’s not even a film adaptation. However, I’ll try my best. I’m not an American History expert, according to some people the musical is accurate in terms of what happens, but I won’t judge it on that level. Though I think the casting and the fact that it is a Broadway musical should automatically give an indication that this probably shouldn’t be taken as being 100% accurate, and shouldn’t be the prime source of education about the founding fathers of America. It is 2 hours and 40 minutes long and it is a long running story, a lot of things happen over the course of the musical, it even has some actors playing more than one character. As overwhelming as it was going into it blind, especially as someone who didn’t really know what to expect, I was pretty invested throughout. It’s entertaining, it’s funny, and it becomes surprisingly emotional at points. By the end I was quite satisfied with what I had watched.

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The whole cast of actors do very well in their part in both acting and when it came to singing. The creator of the musical, Lin-Manuel Miranda plays the lead of Alexander Hamilton and does well on his part. I knew about Miranda from other things, with Mary Poppins Returns and His Dark Materials, but I think he did a good job here. I will say that his singing wasn’t the best, especially when compared to the others in the cast, but more than makes it up for his acting, especially in the latter half of the film. There were a few actors who really stood out, Daveed Diggs and Leslie Odom were particularly outstanding in their parts of Marquis de Lafayette/Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr. Jonathan Groff was only in a few scenes but was fantastic as King George III, a hilarious and entertaining performance that was very memorable in his onscreen moments.

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A big part of the movie is the music, and I thought it was really good. It is one of those musicals where every line is singing, but they pulled it off. A musical about the founding fathers doesn’t sound particularly like it’s prime music material. However the songs are pretty great (there are so many of them too), well written, and there was a lot of genres mixed in including rap, hip hop, jazz and Broadway, and it made the music and overall musical stand out and very entertaining. I’ve only watched the movie/musical once, but with every song on this from this first viewing, I found all of them to be very solid. Production values are top notch too, the choreography was great, and I can imagine it would’ve been a blast watching it in the theatre. In terms of the filming for the movie on Disney+, the direction from Thomas Kail was handled well, and really captured the show as best as possible.

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I really had no idea if I would like Hamilton going in, but I found it enjoyable, entertaining, and I was engaged from beginning to end. For those who haven’t seen it yet, I think it’s worth seeing it for yourselves, and by experiencing it first on the Disney+ version, you won’t have to pay money to buy tickets to watch it in person. I will say that I’m not sure how I’d feel about it on a rewatch, this is just from the one viewing and it was a lot to take in as it was. However, I think it’s really good and I’m glad I saw it.

Frozen 2 (2019) Review

Time: 103 Minutes
Age Rating:
Voice Cast:
Kristen Bell as Anna
Idina Menzel as Elsa
Josh Gad as Olaf
Jonathan Groff as Kristoff
Sterling K. Brown as Mattias
Evan Rachel Wood as Iduna
Aurora as The Voice
Alfred Molina as Agnarr
Director: Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee

Anna, Elsa, Kristoff, Olaf, and Sven leave Arendelle to travel to an ancient, autumn-bound forest of an enchanted land. They set out to find the origin of Elsa’s powers in order to save their kingdom.

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I remember when I saw Frozen back in 2013, while I wasn’t in love with the movie like a lot of people were, I thought it was pretty good. There have been talks about a sequel for a very long time (especially with all the acclaim and love it has been receiving), and it seemed to have taken them a while for it to happen. However, after 6 years it’s finally here. To be honest, I didn’t really care much about a sequel, I just wasn’t sure there was much that you could follow it up with. Still, I checked it out, and Frozen 2 turned out to be pretty decent and surprising.

One of the things that made me curious about Frozen 2 was some of the mixed or divided reactions to it, not to mention some comparisons to Annihilation of all movies. However it turns out that this comparison is quite apt and valid. Without spoiling anything, the plot of Frozen 2 is actually darker, more complex and larger scale, and goes to places that you wouldn’t expect it to go to, storywise and thematically. It was just a little confusing that the story went in that direction, especially the target audience of the first movie, but at the same time I guess I was interested in it, but I think most of that might have to be how unexpected it is. Looking back at it, it’s a little messy at points. I also didn’t like some of the things it does with some of the characters, mainly Kristoff and Olaf. Kristoff is pretty much only there to save Anna in dangerous situations (while doing the typical goofy trying and failing to propose all the way through), and Olaf particularly wasn’t nearly as funny here as he was in the first movie, he was more of a distraction more than anything. With that said, he does have a moment that was one the best parts of the movie. It’s generally entertaining to watch over its hour and 43 minute runtime.

Frozen 2 is directed by Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee, who made the first movie, and they did a pretty good job here too. I’d even say that it might be worth watching for the animation alone, it looks excellent throughout, even better than in the first movie. There are particularly some stunning sequences where the movie gets to show off visually. Might be worth checking out the movie even for that. As we all know, there were plenty of memorable songs in the original Frozen, from Let it Go, Do You Want to Build a Snowman, and so on. As for Frozen 2, the songs are mostly okay but very forgettable, which was quite disappointing, in fact the most disappointing part of the movie. I actually remember the scenarios of the songs more, and not so much the songs themselves. As for the voice cast, they’re pretty good, with the returning voice actors with Kristen Bell, Idina Menzel, Josh Gad and Jonathan Groff, as well as some newer voice actors like Sterling K. Brown, Evan Rachel Wood, and more.

Frozen 2 is relatively good, but it does have some problems holding it back, same with the first movie. Frozen 1 was fairly simplistic, but for what it is, it worked. Frozen 2 has a more interesting story and does some surprising things that I really liked, but the results weren’t always consistent in quality. As for which is better, they sort of balance each other out, and they’re sort of on the same level. If you liked the first Frozen, then it’s definitely worth watching the sequel, otherwise you probably shouldn’t bother with Frozen 2.