Critiquing Film, Television, and More

Rocketman Hits the Heights That Most Musical Biopics Wish They Could Attain

Taron Egerton as Elton John in Rocketman from Paramount Pictures.

After witnessing the patternless blister of last year’s severely disappointing Bohemian Rhapsody, and after watching possibly the chintziest trailer—this referring to the trailer for what I am reviewing here today—I have ever gazed at, you would guess that I had massively low expectations for Dexter Fletcher’s Elton John biopic Rocketman. It appeared to be as if this would be another discourteous attempt at reining in moola off of a famed icon’s legacy.

Sooo…it looks like that…I was wrong? Pretty darn wrong in fact. Rocketman was…ummm…great? I had fun, I got the chills as one should anticipate beholding when exploring such an icon’s rogue lifestyle, and I could legitimately sense the personal drama exuding out of this film significantly more than others of its genre. This was surprising, to say the least.

Rocketman decides to focus on Elton John’s character evolution more than anything else, chronicling his life from when he was a wee-little boy to his glory days as the colorfully decorated, piano-playing, musically blustering star. One detail I must address that really hoisted the exploration of John’s life was, in reality, the “R” rating. You get to see a—keyword—respectful and psychological turn in his persona, you get to witness the heartbreaking drug-runs that he constantly forces himself into, you get to view the uncut collision of him dealing with his sexuality, and you even get to feel that loss of love that Elton had felt when he persistently questioned his relationship with peers. All of these affairs are dispensed without and blockades or any desires of censorship and I must commend the filmmakers for going about this risky decision.

And sure, Rocketman is arguably quite the corn-fest at times, but the movie is able to take these cheesy elements of the typical rockstar biopic and format it into a flamboyant fashion that characterizes more charismatic and less repetitive exhibitions. Which brings me to my next point…

I am so pleased that Rocketman turned out to be a nearly full-blown musical? I mean, it had to find some way to be different from Bohemian Rhapsody, right? Whenever a musical note comes on it’s not just there for Elton John fan-a-holics. The songs always pertain to the presented events transpiring on screen. The methods they use to present the songs as well, offer some more than compulsive and devouring visuals. I also appreciated how they redid all the songs to fit the scenes in a more appropriate manner. It makes the film seem less like a compilation of Elton’s original greatest-hits and more like a rendition of what each song means to the story.

So, shall we talk about Taron Egerton’s performance as Elton John for a while? I hate to always compare this movie to Bohemian Rhapsody—but really, I don’t—but Rami Malek may have done a fine impression of Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody for over two hours, but I never thought he properly expressed himself as someone who is emotionally furious, if that makes any sense. He never had that moment where you just felt the vexation or distress of his character. Now, Taron Egerton’s performance in this is…wow, wow, wow, wow, WOW. He is just bleeding with range and chaotic pizazz in this encapsulation of a contrasted human individual. If someone is worthy of an Oscar nomination this year, it’s this guy.

Rocketman doesn’t entirely rely on nostalgia like most of its kind does—that implying that sometimes it does, however—and most of its misfit adventures proved about in the story seem earned rather than glossed over at a maximum pace of negligence. Definitely check this one out, especially if you’re an Elton John fan. This one’s a bingo!

Verdict: B

“Rocketman” will be released in theaters on May 31, 2019.

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