Film Review: Rocketman

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Image result for rocketman movieAt the risk of painting myself as a bit of a loner or a boring spinster, I have a confession. Deep breaths – I am not a spontaneous person. As much as I try to live an adventure, taking risks and curves in stride, I can’t help but fall victim to the routine. Living alone will do that to you though. Living alone means you rely heavily on your organisation and plans which can leave little room for going out. As much as it drives me crazy, most days my life basically consists of work, grocery shopping, reading, writing and sleeping. Repeat. 

What I’m getting at here is that after a particularly mundane day working in retail and, after meeting my brother on the train, we made the snap decision to hit the town and see Elton John’s fantastical biopic; Rocketman. 

Suffice to say we had an absolute blast tapping our feet along to Crocodile Rock and Bennie And The Jets, experiencing the highest of highs and the lowest of lows of Elton John’s breakthrough years as an artist. And, after two days I have failed to shake the explosion of both emotion and colour that is Rocketman. This movie just resonated with me. I can’t tell you how much I loved Rocketman and it’s highly addictive soundtrack [which I’ve since bought btw].

4.5 Stars

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The Plot:

As far as the overall plot goes, this ones pretty much on the nose. Rocketman is a biopic musical directed by Dexter Fletcher and stars Taron Egerton in the leading role. Framed by a group therapy session at a rehab center, Rocketman follows the breakthrough years of Sir Elton John. Nothing is off the table in this honest look at the legend’s personal life and early career. From child prodigy and a rather difficult childhood to one of music’s most successful artists, we see Elton’s struggles with substance abuse and how his career worked to isolate him. It reveals the impacts on both his personal life and mental health leading ultimately, to an inspired recovery.

Initially, I figured Rocketman would follow the traditional biopic mold. That was so not the case. You have never seen a musical biopic quite like this. I mean this is Elton John’s life story and his is a story that could only be told with a splash of fantasy and a riot of colour. Rocketman is a full fledged musical complete with jaw dropping musical numbers and dazzling visuals, painting a very vivid picture of Elton’s life. 

Now at this point, it’s probably a good idea to confess that I am by no means an Elton John super fan. But, I was born during the Disney renaissance so I grew up with The Lion King and hearing my dad’s Elton John records. While I enjoy Elton John’s music, going into Rocketman I was completely naive to the harsh realities of his childhood and career. I guess it’s safe to say that I left the theater with a deeper appreciation for both Elton John and his music.

The Characters:

As far as casting goes, unless they had Elton John himself I couldn’t imagine an actor more suited to the role than Taron Egerton. I mean, where the heck did he come from??? His performance was phenomenal; it was raw and emotionally charged. Give this kid an Oscar already! I’ve watched Taron’s acting chops in Kingsmen and Eddie The Eagle but his portrayal of Elton John is by far the best performance of his career. Taron is a tour de force and let’s just marinate on the fact that he actually provided the vocals for the soundtrack too. No lip syncing to be found here #applogiestobohemianrhapsody.

The Soundtrack:

Unfortunately I don’t posses the vocabulary or musical terminology to articulate just how sweeping and epic the orchestrations are. Let’s talk about the scene which kind of bookends the film and that is Elton John checking himself into rehab. It was both our favorite scene and the climax of the film. I was left in awe as Taron dressed in an orange jumpsuit embellished with sequins, feathers, wings and a horned headpiece strutted, slow-mo style, into the facility against the sweeping chords of Yellow Brick Road. It’s just… wow. The emotion of the lyrics and the emotion in the music itself was just so powerful and it really defined the message of the film. And as the lyrics fell away and the music swept in with the choir to carry that emotional beat though I think I actually went to church for a solid moment.

And that’s  a prime example of how the entire film plays out. On one hand, you’ve got these modern yet nostalgic renditions of Elton’s songs and then you’ve got the dramatic themes and the melodies weaved throughout the score. The music takes on a theatrical feel. It just kind of roars through the cinema and it’s a chill inducing triumphant. That being said, these showstopping numbers are used as a device to tell the story. So the soundtrack is not arranged in chronological order – the songs instead are embedded in the plot. Songs like Tiny Dancer, Rocket Man, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road and I’m Still Standing appear to convey the tone of the mood, giving a strong voice to Elton’s struggles.

Overall, Rocketman surpassed all of my expectations and, come award season, I’m sure will generate plenty of Oscar buzz. Taron Egerton’s portrayal of the iconic musician and the updated soundtrack itself is defiantly worthy of an Academy Award or two. It’s a splashy, sequin encrusted delight from the opening chords of Yellow Brick Road to the emotionally charged re-enactment of I’m Still Standing. While the film doesn’t shy away from the sex, drugs and rock n’ roll lifestyle, the overall arch works to convey a positive message. At it’s core, Rocketman is a powerhouse musical about rising from the ashes and coming out a better man. #moveovergreatestshowman.



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