Biopics about famous musical artists have always been around but it seems like in the past couple years they are becoming very popular. Films such as The Dirt, Lords of Chaos, and 2018’s Bohemian Rhapsody have successful either critically, financially, or both. Rocketman looks to ride that wave but will it be still standing by the end of the weekend or will it blow out, like a candle in the wind?
The film is a musical about the life of Sir Elton John, one of the biggest rock stars and overall successful musicians of all time. Elton’s music serves as a backdrop to events throughout his life. In Rocketman, we witness the meteoric rise and the personal fall from grace of Elton John having to survive being an alcoholic, drug addict, bulimic, gay man in the 1970’s.
What I Liked
Rocketman does a lot correctly over it’s 2 hour runtime. The biggest win the film has comes from it’s main star, Taron Egerton (Kingsman), who plays Elton John. Taron not only has the mannerisms and look down, he also sings every song throughout the film. There were specific scenes where it looked like they had literally superimposed Elton himself into the shots. He
comes out swinging and shows everyone that he is one of the best young actors working today.
Another aspect that Rocketman has going for it is the ‘R’ rating it received and fought for. Elton John was quoted as saying, “He didn’t live a PG-13 life” after the studio said that’s what they wanted the film to be rated. The ‘R’ rating lets the movie be raw and real. We get to see the sex and the drugs that were the lifestyle Elton lived and they don’t pull any punches. The rating elevated the movie to a place where many people didn’t expect it to go.
“Oh, just write the fucking songs, Bernie. Let me handle the rest!”
Dexter Fletcher, the director of Rocketman, also did an amazing job. There were multiple great tracking shots and long takes that really helped the music come alive. Not only the music but he also got the emotion he wanted. Great use of close ups on Egerton or the static wide shot during certain scenes. Fletcher has some great directing chops and got to fully show them off throughout this film.
The final aspect of Rocketman that made it a great film was the choice to make it a musical and the choice to have the actors sing the songs live. The comparisons to Bohemian Rhapsody are what people want to talk about but this film is more like Across the Universe. Rocketman uses Elton John’s discography and uses those songs to tell stories over the course of his life. The fact that it’s more like a traditional musical and Taron Egerton wonderfully sings each song live really rise the quality of the film up.
What Could Have Been Improved
Rocketman while a great movie, wasn’t perfect. There were some almost extreme issues with the pacing. Certain moments in his life are flown by as if they never happened while others are focused on for almost too long. The beginning glosses over his rise to fame in the form of a montage so we never get that feeling of rising before we get to the fall. There is also another huge life moment that gets boiled down to a 2 minute section.
The pacing wasn’t the only issue with Rocketman. As stated above, Egerton was great, but there were some characters that didn’t fit as well as they could have. Richard Madden (Game of Thrones, The Bodyguard) plays the love interest/manager of Elton John. Madden serves as almost a sort of villain at points and gets played up to almost cartoonish levels. It was jarring at times in a movie that everyone else seemed so real.
Rocketman Final Thoughts
This is a film that whether it wants to or not, is going to get a lot of comparisons to last years Bohemian Rhapsody. Part of this is due to the fact that it is directed by Dexter Fletcher. Fletcher came in and finished directing Bohemian Rhapsody after Bryan Singer was taken off the film. The two movies do have some comparisons but in the grand scheme of things they are very different movies. Rocketman succeeds on multiple levels and any fans of Elton, musical, or just film in general should go see it. If you have nothing going on over the weekend I highly recommend going because as they say, Saturday night’s alright… For going to the movies!
Overall Score 4/5