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Laramie Movie Scope: Hamilton

A dramatic, funny, instructive musical

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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January 9, 2021 – I've been hearing about Hamilton ever since it first appeared on Broadway in 2015. It took the theater world by storm, so I've been wanting to see what all the hoopla was about ever since. I finally got to watch it last night on Disney Plus.

I just about gave up on trying to watch it until I figured out how to solve the buffering problem that was driving me crazy (the manual data speed setting is hidden in a web site sub-menu). I got to see what made this play so popular. It is dramatic, funny and historically instructive, and the music is great, too.

This movie version of the play is about the closest you can get to actually being in the audience at the theater. I felt I was right there with the audience, and could see the music conductor as well as some people in the first row at times. Even though this is a filmed version of the play, it avoids the cramped, limited visual style you sometimes see in other filmed attempts to capture a play. It is very dynamic and engaging.

If I'm not mistaken, this film features most of the original play's cast, including, of course, the creator and star of Hamilton, Lin-Manuel Miranda, whose charisma and acting power are central to this movie.

The movie follows the life of Hamilton (Miranda) from his early adult years, through his marriage to Eliza (Phillipa Soo of “Smash”) to his rise to prominance as an aide to General George Washington (Chris Jackson of “Tracers”) to his authorship of many of the Federalist Papers, to his appointment of Secretary of the Treasury, to his extra-marital affair and eventually, of course, to his death in a duel with political rival Aaron Burr (Leslie Odom Jr. of “One Night in Miami”).

This two and a half hour movie covers a lot of events that happen over a period of many years, but it manages to do all this at a very lively pace. The songs, both rap and more traditional theatrical songs are well-written and performed. They add a lot of energy to this story. The song lyrics also convey a lot of important U.S. history very quickly and efficiently.

My own knowledge of Alexander Hamilton's place in U.S. history was pretty sketchy before watching this movie. I certainly learned a lot about Hamilton over the course of the movie. He accomplished a lot in a short amount of time, and this movie does not cover all that he actually did accomplish.

Lin-Manuel Miranda's performance is outstanding, but equally entertaining is Daveed Diggs (“Blindspotting”) who has two roles in the movie, that of French naval captain Marquis de Lafayette and Hamilton's political rival Thomas Jefferson. King George (played by Jonathan Groff of the “Frozen” movies) provides entertaining comic relief. Also good is Chris Jackson (Washington) and Renée Elise Goldsberry (who plays Hamilton's wife's sister, Angelica Schuyler).

Musical movies are kind of a lost art since the glory days the 1960s, and some excellent Disney animated musicals of the late 80s and early 90s. Good movie musicals have been few and far between since then. One could argue this isn't a true movie musical, but rather just a filmed stage play, but that is just academic posturing. It is a movie, and it is a musical, and it is very good. It rates a B+.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in digital formats, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff (no extra charges apply). I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2021 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)

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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at dalek three zero one nine at gmail dot com [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]