We got ourselves another biopic with the focus on another musician that took the world by storm with his incredible music that many loved for decades. Rocketman is all about Sir Elton John, who was like the Lady Gaga or the Liberace of his time. With some biopics not being able to be true to be fully realized, who knows if Rocketman will make anyone wonder why they call it the blues?
What’s the Story: This tells the true story of Elton John (Taron Egerton), born Reginald “Reggie” Dwight, through his days as a prodigy at the Royal Academy of Music to his musical partnership with Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell) when he becomes one of the most popular artists in the world.
Rocketman is helmed by director Dexter Fletcher. If that name doesn’t sound familiar, you’d be surprised to know that he first teamed with Egerton on the 2016 underrated sports drama Eddie the Eagle (recommendation). But he’s well known for replacing Bryan Singer to finish another music biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody, although he’s uncredited for his work. Despite being a box office success and winning many accolades, including four Oscars, the film became the most divisive movie of last year. And both of these will be compared in a lot of ways for many.
But besides that, I’ve been waiting for a biopic about the legendary icon for years when it was first announced. Elton John has always been an amazing artist, and his music is the definition of catchy. I was already loving what I was seeing from Egerton in what could be something amusing. Although if you didn’t care for Bohemian Rhapsody, then Rocketman is the biopic you’ve been wanting, and it’s not too bad.
Egerton’s performance as Elton John is one of the best I’ve seen this year so far. The casting of him couldn’t have been any more perfect, and there’s nobody else that could capture the role unlike him. Not even Tom Hardy or Justin Timberlake. He completely loses himself into a role that makes us feel like I’m watching a young John. Every scene he’s in showcases why he’s a very talented actor. This entire film has me completely forgiven him for being in Robin Hood.
Fletcher’s direction surprises me when making a film about a man who’s best known for his lavish style and complicated life story, but he does a great job at mixing in those dramatic elements and the moments where it becomes a fantasy of sorts when it goes into a musical number. Think of this a film version of a Broadway show in the vein of something like Get on Up and Across the Universe, but better than the both of them combined.
Screenwriter Lee Hall (Billy Elliot, War Horse) didn’t write the script as the typical biopic detailing certain life events, but it’s told in a fantasy-like world that probably wouldn’t be seen anywhere else. It’s an approach that helps itself out in many ways. Do I know what’s factual and what’s not? Not sure since I don’t know that much about John’s life. It does go through the tough struggles of his sexuality, drug problem, alcohol addiction, and many of situations that rock stars tend to become a hassle with when becoming famous.
John’s life wasn’t all that great when his childhood wasn’t the greatest along his fear of being lonely is shown throughout. Since it goes for that R-rating, it feels a bit less sanitized and goes for that raw notion. Fletcher and Hall perfectly capture the highest of highs and the lowest of lows for this man that’s believable.
What I was surprised by was knowing that this is also a jukebox musical. Sure, I knew his music was going to be a part of the story, but there are actual musical numbers throughout, and it totally brought the energy up to ten. Egerton already sang “I’m Still Standing” in Sing, so this wasn’t going to be a problem for him. It’s a good thing that he didn’t sound exactly like the real Elton, but it’s pretty close to sounding just like him. One scene that emphasizes that point is when Elton sings Bernie’s lyrics to “Your Song”, and it’s done so beautifully.
There should also be credit given to the costume department for designing some of John’s iconic outfits when he’s performing.
Aside from Egerton, the rest of the supporting cast are equally excellent. Bell has always been an underrated actor, in my opinion, and he provides a great performance as Bernie Taupin. The brotherly chemistry that he and Egerton shared couldn’t been better. Richard Madden as John Reid, Elton’s first manager and lover, and he does a fantastic job being someone that seems wrong in all places, and then you have Bryce Dallas Howard as his mother always gives it her best.
If there were any problems that this had, it would’ve benefited from better pacing, especially during the middle. And while Hall’s script is good, it does become a tad cliche when it happens to be telling another one of these biopics offers the same beats.
In the end, I left Rocketman believing it was a solid movie, even though I wished I loved it. Fans of the artist are going to have fun with this. Egerton’s performance as the first performance of the year that’s easily Oscar-worthy as of this moment. This seems to be a much better biopic than Bohemian Rhapsody (didn’t hate it). If Fletcher and Egerton decide to team up for the third time in the near future, the world might be a better place. Rocketman isn’t going to be on my best list of the year, but it definitely deserves to be re-watched later on.
Top 10 Elton John Songs:
- “Rocket Man”
- “Your Song”
- “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart”
- “I’m Still Standing”
- “Candle in the Wind”
- “Bennie and the Jets”
- “Tiny Dancer”
- “Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting)”
- “Crocodile Rock”
- “Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”