There’s so much that works about ‘Rocketman’, so the fact it never fully commits to its musical fantasy conceit is a bit of a disappointment. It ends up aligning most with Julie Taymor’s curious 2007 Beatles musical ‘Across the Universe’ - a really great idea and approach to the work of a musical artist that never finds its feet or the bravery to fully be itself. It’s still a moving and occasionally stirring portrait of Elton John, and while the lack of emotional or narrative detail in the screenplay never allows Taron Egerton to fully unleash his potential, he’s still a terrific Elton John and sings the hell out of these amazing songs. In the end, despite a refreshing honesty and some fascinating choices, ‘Rocketman’ is never as daring as it so desperately wants and needs and deserves to be, a film on the road to somewhere but never quite getting there.
- Daniel Lammin
Read Daniel's full article...
Elton John has had a career that has spanned decades, millions of albums sold, packed venues, awards, and more than a few headlines. In the new film “Rocketman” audiences get a look behind the man thanks to the amazing and Oscar worthy portrayal by Taron Egerton.
The film opens with a flamboyantly dressed John entering rehab in one of his stage costumes. As he opens up with his group, he shares the story of his childhood as a shy child who is desperate to have his father show him any signs of approval or affection.
When it is discovered that he has talent with the piano; his grandmother encourages him and even takes him to apply for a position at the Royal Academy of Music.
His mother (Bryce Dallas Howard) is moderately supportive but is more focused on her social life brought on by her failing marriage.
As the film unfolds; we see Elton working in a backup band and in time answering an ad that puts him with an agent. Paired with the man who would eventually change his life; Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell), Elton and Bernie combine to write a series of songs which in turn leads him to a series of gigs in Los Angeles. The film shifts into high gear at this point as we see how their music becomes a smash and leads to a series of parties, drugs, and money.
Elton meets Manager John Reid (Richard Madden), who becomes his partner both socially and professionally as Elton embraces his Homosexuality which he has kept largely hidden.
As the record sales and hits mount, so does the destructive behaviors which leads Elton down a destructive path that threatens everything he has worked for.
The movie is a masterpiece of music and story and it cleverly uses musical montages and segments around the performances to outline various segments of his life and his rise to stardom.
The performances are amazing and Egerton was simply amazing as he not only captured the complexity of his character but performed all the vocals of the hit songs himself and they were spot on.
During our Press Screening I noticed many people singing along, tapping their feet, or bobbing their heads along with the music which helps to underscore just how timeless and popular his catalog of music has been as the songs have endured the test of time.
The film also evokes some unexpected emotion as there were more than a few people wiping their eyes during the film which at its core is a store of a young, shy boy desperate to be accepted and loved.
I truly hope the film is recognized come Awards season as it is a wonderful and memorable cinematic experience.
5 stars out of 5