Movie Review: Rocketman

What’s old is new. That can certainly be said about the recent string of movies based on iconic musicians from the 80’s. Last year it was Freddie Mercury’s story in Bohemian Rhapsody that drove people to theaters, now it’s Elton John’s story in Rocketman. Bohemian Rhapsody was a hit, but does Rocketman have what it takes to rival the success of Bohemian? Find out below.

WHAT’S IT ABOUT:

Rocketman focuses on the rise of Elton John from his years as a youth through his breakthrough in the music industry, with the fame portion being in the latter part of the second act. The rise of a shy and misunderstood boy is the starting point of the movie and it takes us through a journey to where he becomes a confident and flamboyant musical legend.

The ups and downs of Elton’s rise to fame are part of the story arch. From his personal relationships with his family and romantic interests to his dealings with celebrity and outsiders that surrounded themselves around him. Through this story we witness the rise to fame of a musical genius.

HOW DID THE ACTORS DO:

Taron Egerton takes on the role of playing Elton John. That’s a lot of pressure to play someone with such an iconic status worldwide. He does a fantastic job in the role and looks the part. Egerton delivers on all accounts. The commitment is evident in how he approaches John’s mannerisms, flashes his brilliant charisma and most importantly takes over in the musical performances.

A fantastic lead performance always relies on some strong supporting leads. Which is what Egerton gets with his strong supporting ensemble. Jamie Bell, Bryce Dallas Howard and Richard Madden. Bell plays Elton’s singer-songwriter colleague Bernie Taupin.

SCRIPT AND STORY:

This is where the movie loses some momentum. The story starts with Reginald Dwight, who later on becomes Elton John, as we know him as. The script follows his transformation from unknown aspiring musician to superstar. It’s a fine establishing point.

The problems start arising with the pacing of the story. Too many times it feels like it’s moving at a snail’s pace. Several of the long-winded dialogue scenes just mess with the flow. I found myself getting distracted and disinterested at various points, which is not what a movie about a jubilant performer like Elton John should be doing.

The approach to the story is fine, but it feels too long and drawn out. There are several scenes that could have been shortened and condensed without impacting the story.

WAS IT ENTERTAINING:

The musical numbers are pretty good. They look very theatrical and staged, which is how you’d imagine Elton doing them. Egerton does fine in replicating Elton’s moves and performance style, but something felt missing. Was the energy hard to translate on film? Didn’t feel that way about Bohemian. The Dodger Stadium performance was probably the best one in the film that stood out.

If you’re a bit intrigued about the life of Elton, then Rocketman is a solid starting point. I would have liked a little more of his relationships and personal life explored. It’s obviously noted that he didn’t shy away from being a gay man, but would have been interesting to see more focus on that aspect of his life and how it affected him in the public eye.

The movie is entertaining enough to warrant a look. With the musical numbers, actor performances and story approach, it has enough elements of intrigue and entertainment to be seen. Plus, the costumes and set design are superb. Egerton’s wardrobe is flawless. They certainly got both of those right.

SHOULD YOU SEE IT:

I did lead you to believe that there is enough interesting content to see it firsthand. If you’re a fan of Elton and his music, you will probably see it no matter what. Fans of musicals, will probably give it a go also. It’s the casual moviegoer that will need to consider some of these factors in seeing Rocketman. I don’t feel it’s as energetic and fascinating as it could have been. It’s probably the dullest version of a Elton John movie that could have been made and it even has an R rating.

In natural comparison to Bohemian Rhapsody (same filmmaker), this one falls short. While the icons are largely on a similar level, arguably Elton being the bigger international star, the stories are vastly different. Rocketman lacks an engaging dramatic element to it that Bohemian had. Overall, it’s a solid but unspectacular movie. See it, but don’t plan on it being one of the best musical biographies you’ll come across.

GENRE: Biography, Drama, Music

RATING: R

RUNTIME: 2 hr 1 min

RELEASE DATE: May 31, 2019

‘ROCKETMAN’ Score: 50%

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