A musical fantasy about the fantastical human story of Elton John’s breakthrough years. (via IMDb)
It must be the time of the musical biopic. Last year saw the release of Bohemian Rhapsody, the story of Freddy Mercury, and now we have Rocketman, the story of Elton John. Both are about prolific rock singers and both are directed by Dexter Fletcher. Despite their similar subjects and shared director, Rocketman doesn’t feel like a BR clone. It takes a different approach to its story telling and takes advantage of its rating.
One of the highlights of the film was Taron Egerton as Elton John. Egerton captures a wide range emotions. He’s charismatic when he needs to be, he’s vulnerable when he needs to be, and he’s dour when he needs to be. It’s clear that Egerton is putting everything he can into the part and it really elevates the film, especially since it fails or succeeds on his performance. This movie doesn’t shy away from the darker moments of Elton John’s life and Egerton embraces it head first.
While this film has been touted as a “musical fantasy,” it leaned more heavily into the “fantasy” part than I expected. Montage-like sequences, often coupled with an Elton John hit, were used to move the story along. These sequences didn’t explicitly explain what was going on but rather implied it. At first I thought these were just ways to inject Elton John’s songs into the film. Not until after the montage finished and the next scene began did I realize the story was moving along during the previous sequence. It’s a rather unique implementation of a non-unique story-telling device.
When going into a biopic about a musician, you can expect their songs to be featured heavily. Rocketman did just that but the way it did it was interesting. Instead of being a movie with music like I was anticipating, it was more like a musical, with the characters breaking into song at random points. As different as this was, there were times it felt forced, with songs being used at weird times to make sure the film includes all of Elton John’s biggest hits. Sometimes only a few lyrics were used from a song making it feel more awkward. While I liked the approach, the execution was spotty.
I thought Rocketman was GOOD 🙂 Not knowing much about Elton John’s life, I can’t say how historically accurate it is. However, what I can say is that it lives up to its label of “musical fantasy.” A stand-out performance from Taron Egerton and unique musical sequences make this biopic rock to new heights.
Cast & Crew
Dexter Fletcher – Director
Lee Hall – Writer
Matthew Margeson – Composer
Taron Egerton – Elton John
Jamie Bell – Bernie Taupin
Richard Madden – John Reid
Bryce Dallas Howard – Sheila
Gemma Jones – Ivy
Steven Mackintosh – Stanley
Tim Bennett – Fred
Matthew Illesley – Young REggie
Kit Connor – Older Reggie
Charlie Rowe – Ray Williams
Stephen Graham – Dick James
Sharon D. Clarke – Counselor
I enjoyed it! I like Elton John’s music but didn’t know a lot about his life. I’d be curious to know what he thought of this film! I thought Taron did a great job in the lead role.
That’s good! Elton John was a producer and seemed pretty involved in the production so I’m assuming he signed off on it.
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Great review. I posted about Elton John’s wild outfits int he 70’s, and the film captures that aspect of his life well – he was a bridge from “shaggy rock bands” to the disco era…it will be interesting who gets this lavish treatment next – some have suggested David Bowie, but we will see!
Thanks. That’s pretty cool that you wrote a whole post on just his outfits. If more biopics about musicians are going to be made, now is the time to do it. Bowie would be a great candidate.
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Thanks for the comment! I agree that Bowie seems like a great next choice for this, because I think they will continue until they wear out their welcome!
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Awesome review Drew
Great review Drew 🙂 I didn’t love this one but I can’t deny Taron Egerton’s talent – he is absolutely incredible! He’s bound to at least pick up a nomination come Oscars time.
Thanks Allie 🙂 You’re absolutely right! If Rami Malek was able to get a nomination, Egerton can get a nomination.