Review: Rocketman

Rocketman

The popularity of the biopic has hardly lessened in recent years, as films portraying the life story of a myriad of subjects with varying degrees of accuracy continue to be a fixture on cinematic release schedules. As such, it only seems to be a matter of time before just about any pop culture icon gets their own film, and Elton John is the latest to get the biopic treatment with Rocketman.

However, where most biopics largely follow the same narrative template, often making such films underwhelming and formulaic, Rocketman instead does what it says on the marketing tin by telling Elton John’s story as a musical fantasy, and the result is dazzlingly bold.

Suitably flamboyant, Rocketman is a musical explosion of color and spectacle, but that does not mean that the more traditional narrative elements are neglected. Telling the story of a boy who was never hugged by his father and grew up to be a man longing to be loved, the expertly choreographed musical numbers are sprinkled generously but meticulously throughout the film, resulting in a well-paced and entertaining feature that makes sure to maintain the humanity of its subject.

Taron Eggerton’s enthusiasm is evident throughout, and the choice to let him perform the songs instead of using someone who sounds completely identical to Elton John – or even using the original recordings with the man himself, for that matter – allows Eggerton to not only act with the use of dialogue and body language but also via dance and song, which increases the impact of his performance and by proxy the artistic integrity of film as a whole.

Much like Eggerton impresses as Elton John, Jamie Bell is also enjoyable in the role of songwriter Bernie Taupin. Sharing great chemistry with his co-star, their artistic relationship not only feels warm and sincere, it also lends new depth to the degree of emotion with which platonic relationships between men are portrayed on the big screen.

Naturally, with Bohemian Rhapsody being a very recent box success also concerning an exceptionally talented musician who is also considered a gay icon, many will inevitably compare the two films. Where Bohemian Rhapsody was rightfully critisized for failing to adequately portray Mercury’s homosexuality, Rocketman manages to include imagery of queer culture that fits the campiness of Elton John’s persona without becoming caricatural of queer culture in itself. Similarly, the love scenes between Eggerton and Richard Madden, who portrays the toxic John Reid, are passionate without becoming salacious.

By showing both the passionate highs and the abusive lows of their problematic relationship rather than censoring the truth to appease conservative markets, Rocketman feels more earnest than Bohemian Rhapsody, ensuring that the portrayal of Elton John feels multi-faceted, giving the audience a fleshed out narrative to sink their teeth into between the musical entertainment.

And that is what Rocketman first and foremost is – a musical. Obviously, this also means that some artistic liberties have been taken, but thanks to the film starting and continuously returning to the confessional setting of a group therapy session, the film ultimately feels grounded and sincere. As a result, Rocketman is engaging beyond the superficial appeal of the showmanship associated with the musical genre and the wide array of Elton John classics featured in the film, and it will be interesting to see what director Dexter Fletcher gets up to next.

Verdict: 9 out of 10.

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Review: Hellboy

Hellboy Scmellboy

Guillermo del Toro’s unadulterated love for monsters has always saturated his work, and it finally earned him an Oscar for the dark fairy tale The Shape of Water. This recognition was long overdue, especially if you ask anyone familiar with his work, as the Mexican filmmaker’s flair for storytelling in terms of both visuals and narrative has always set him apart from his peers.

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Review: Shazam!

Shazam.jpg

It has barely been a month since we were presented with the origin story of the character who is currently known as Captain Marvel, and has been known as such since Marvel Comics introduced that character’s first incarnation in the 1960s. With Shazam!, we get the origin story of the character formerly known as Captain Marvel during the golden age of comics, namely DC’s Shazam, the super-powered alter ego of teenager Billy Batson.

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Review: Pet Sematary

Pet Sematary

Live action adaptations of Stephen King’s stories have always been plentiful, however, for many years they were hardly critically acclaimed blockbusters. That has all changed, however, after 2017’s It did exceptionally well with both critics and audiences alike, and we now have a remake of Pet Sematary on our hands 30 years after the creepy-but-campy adaptation from 1989.

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Review: Bumblebee

Bumblebee 4

With the Transformers franchise having long since transformed into nothing more than a cinematic punchline due to imbecilic, repetitive and overly long sequels, expectations for Bumblebee are unsurprisingly rather low. However, while some have already written the solo venture off in the expectation of another overdose of unbridled, megalomaniacal Michael Bay madness, there are those who have remained hopeful that Bumblebee might bring the film franchise closer to its cartoon roots.

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