A trippy unexplainable kind of movie that I’m ultimately mixed on. It seemed that with the success of Bohemian Rhapsody, that we were on the cusp of having an era of multiple biopics based off of singers. I would say Straight Outta Compton was the start with Bohemian Rhapsody really setting the stage for the likes of someone like Elton John and of course it didn’t take long for us to get one for him. Rocketman was to tell the story of Elton John and his life that seemed somewhat similar to that of Freddie Mercury. I remember watching the first trailer, but I ultimately stayed away from any other trailers and reviews up until right now when I just finished watching it, so I wasn’t sure what to expect.
I won’t lie though, I started watching this movie twice. The first time was late at night and it only took about five minutes for me to turn it off because it wasn’t what I expected. Unfortunately I’m not a huge fan of musicals, and with this movie starting off with a musical number in the first five minutes my first reaction was to turn it off and find something else because it was too late for me to sit down and try to watch it.
I was not under the impression that this movie was a musical when I heard about it or even saw the first trailer so I was taken aback. It’s an interesting angle to take with a movie like this, so the next day I sat down to actually watch it and give it a shot. I soon found out that the movie wasn’t exactly a musical in the natural way. It very much has musical elements to it that you could argue make it an actual musical, but it also feels similar again to Bohemian Rhapsody so I would say it’s a mix between both normal biopic and musical.
The movie as a whole is a bit of a fantasia of sorts that I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be really telling the story of Elton or more of telling a version of his story that’s more fantastical in his mind than actually accurate. It’s a bit of a trippy movie with some visuals that are somewhat confusing. I understand that they’re trying to make it more of a fantasia with it being a bit of a show rather than a straight biopic, but I don’t think it actually works all that well to its advantage.
I think this movie is at its best when we get to slow down a bit on the high that it feels like we’re on when he goes into the musical numbers. It’s the small moments that the movie really gets to highlight the quality of acting involved as well as highlighting the actual story and history of Elton that I more care about. There is a clever mix between his history and the usage of the musical numbers that I liked when it comes to intention, but don’t necessarily agree with the actual execution.
The placement of the musical numbers seems to be right as something impactful happens to him, but the actual placement isn’t quite clear. Are the songs placed in these moments because the songs were influenced by those specific moments in his life or was that when he actually came up with the songs? That’s what I was thinking at first until I realized that he actually wasn’t writing the songs, so now I’m confused as to why the musical numbers have to be there at all except to tell a fantasia like story.
I feel like I’m caught up on the musical elements and the actual story, but the story itself when it gets to slow down and we see the little moments is quite good and interesting. I don’t think it matches up as well compared to Bohemian Rhapsody or Straight Outta Compton, but it’s still quite good. The movie really excels though with its performances. Having the likes of Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Richard Madden was sure to help the film out.
Jamie Bell and Richard Madden were great with the little bit they had to work with. It was a joy to see both of them because I think they’re both great actors, but they also weren’t given much material to work with. Outside of Egerton though, the real highlight was Bryce Dallas Howard who plays his mom. She as we all should know is a fantastic actress with it practically in her blood, but she gets a bit lost in this role and nails it. I’m not sure how accurate she is to his actual mother, but I was loving her performance and interactions throughout the whole film.
Of course this all brings us back to the man himself. Taron Egerton is a guy that seemed to come out of nowhere a few years back with Kingsman: The Secret Service. That was at least my first introduction to him, and I was on his bandwagon of wanting to see him in anything because I thought that he was a great actor right out of the gate. He doesn’t disappoint by giving us a career performance that makes me think back to Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury. I think Rami gave the better performance, but for a guy that is still early in his career, I think he was definitely a pleasant surprise and I’m now surprised that he didn’t get an Oscar nomination.
The last big difference between the two movies that I wanted to point out is that while Rami Malek didn’t actually sing in his movie, Taron Egerton did in this one. I think it was a bold choice to allow him to sing these iconic songs and I applaud them for trying it, but not hearing the genuine voice does take me out of it in those musical numbers. I think he does a well enough job for someone that I’ve never actually see sing before, but for this role I believe they would have been better off going with Elton’s real voice.
All in all I would say that this movie is a lesser version of the likes of Bohemian Rhapsody and Straight Outta Compton and also focuses too much on being a sort of fantasia rather than actually telling a great story about him. I wish it would have gone more of the straight biopic route, but it also wasn’t terrible at the same time. It could just be that I’m not a huge fan of the style of movie they were trying to go with. I think there are plenty of people that will enjoy this, but I see many people also having issues with the film. Give it a shot if it seems like the kind of movie you might be interested in, but do it with tempered expectations.