Rocketman is not what you expect.
Much like the man of the movie’s story, legendary musician Elton John, the film leaps off the screen with a certain frenetic feel. It’s only in the brief moments of stillness and quiet that you realize the whirlwind nature of a rock star’s life, and in particular, John’s.
The movie also doesn’t follow typical biopic conventions; it jumps through time, guiding the viewer using John’s umpteen record-breaking songs, which punctuate his growth from young boy to worldwide sensation. It’s definitely more musical than biopic.
I don’t really like musicals. Will I not enjoy this?
It’s tough to say. It’s jarring as the movie starts, when the actor playing John sings in the middle of a dramatic scene — it’s definitely unexpected. But as the movie picks up and starts moving, the approach becomes more comfortable, and genius, in fact. What better way to guide us through John’s troubled ascension than with his own songs? At times coupled with some out-there graphics, it can feel like a dreamscape.
How does this movie compare to Bohemian Rhapsody?
Aside from the protagonists’ rock star status, sexuality and rise to fame with heavy usage of drugs, booze and sex, the two men are quite dissimilar. Same with the movies: they are not the same whatsoever. Rocketman, again, is a musical exploration of John’s life more than it is a biopic, and Bohemian Rhapsody sought to be a legitimate drama using a standard movie format.
One thing’s for sure: this movie doesn’t shy away as much from John’s gayness as Rhapsody did from Freddie Mercury’s.
How is Taron Egerton as Elton John?
Ah, the big question. In a word, Egerton becomes John. From his voice to his mannerisms to his bombastic outfits, he’s about as good as you could do when casting John. He expertly nails both the “up” and “down” scenes, when John is at his best and his worst. One scene in the movie, when John is looking in the mirror and forcing himself to put on his stage smile despite immense depression, is particularly poignant.
Actors Matthew Illesley and Kit Connor, who play younger versions of the singer, are also great.
Any weak points?
As with most movies based on real-life people, there are almost always faults. The glaring weak spot of the film is its pacing. John’s life is so huge, packed with so many achievements and experiences, that it would have to be a six-hour beast to get it all in there. As a result, many scenes feel rushed or choppy, and it feels like we dip in and out of John’s life too quickly, without really getting a sense of what’s happening. A notable example is when John gets married to Renate Blauel — they meet, get hitched, then divorced within one minute. Not even an exaggeration. She utters approximately 10 sentences.
So what’s the bottom line?
A definite must for Elton John fans, as well as music and musical lovers, Rocketman is a fun cinematic outing. It’s truly amazing how many hits the man created, and you’ll be tapping your toes to I’m Still Standing, Crocodile Rock, Tiny Dancer and numerous others. All in all, it’s a fascinating look into the life of one of the world’s biggest pop stars.
‘Rocketman’ is now playing in theatres across Canada.