Reportedly, Disney won the rights to Hamilton, the Broadway play which becomes a pop culture phenomenon, with a bid of $75 million dollars. Disney had intended on releasing this film in 2021, but, with the issues of COVID-19, they chose to drop it on Disney + over the 2020 Fourth of July weekend.
I have been very excited about seeing this since the release news came out. The only knowledge I have about Hamilton is the use by Weird Al in his “Hamilton Polka” from a couple years ago. Besides that, I had not had any exposure to the show. What made me even more excited was the fact that this was going to be a recording of a live stage performance, filmed over three days, in 2016 instead of a big screen adaptation.
The play’s story is about the American Revolution and the initial days of the forming of the United States, focusing in on the contributions of Alexander Hamilton (Lin-Manuel Miranda). The rivalry between Hamilton and Aaron Burr (Leslie Odom Jr) is specifically at the heart of the play.
I found myself more engaged with each passing scene and by the conclusion of the story, I had tears in my eyes from the powerhouse performances and the amazing music.
Speaking of the music, the play was nearly completely music and the lyrics were clever and downright genius. I loved the compilation of the musical styles that Hamilton blended throughout the narrative, despite the music not being a historically accurate interpretation. If you complain that the Founding Fathers do not rap or drop rhymes then you are simply looking for something to complain about. It’s fine if that is a style of music that you do not prefer, but do not use it as an excuse.
The choreography is out of this world and the stage set up works beautifully. There is a rotating circle in the middle of the stage that is used to provide extremely wondrous shots.
Lin-Manuel Miranda does a great job in the role of Hamilton, but his level of singing comes up just a little shorter than the rest of the cast. I am not saying that I hated every minute Miranda opened his mouth to sing, because that is not true. He does a very admirable job, but the rest of the voices are so angelic it is difficult in comparison.
There is a major story thread with Alexander and his wife Eliza (Phillipa Soo) and her sister Angelica (Renée Elise Goldsberry) that provides a deep emotional drive of the film. Both Soo and Goldsberry deliver songs that are some of the best of the soundtrack.
The true standout was Daveed Diggs, who played Thomas Jefferson (and actually also Marquis de Lafayette). Diggs stole every scene he was in and brought a sincere arrogance to Thomas Jefferson.
The film was shot with an audience and it certainly showed. The applause after songs helped provide the movie with a feeling of the energy that had to be powerful inside that theater. It gave the home viewer an opportunity to get the feeling of what it was like inside the room where it happened. I remember thinking while watching it that the energy in the theater must have been off the charts.
This is a brilliant musical that I am very pleased that I now have a chance to see. I wish there were other musicals that would be filmed in this manner and find its way onto streaming services. Hamilton is on Disney + and makes a great watch during the Fourth of July weekend.