I cannot say I’ve been the biggest fan of Elton John, but I did love his music my whole life. Knowing his full story was never a thing to be bothered with. I knew the music, some basic facts. Usually, this is enough. I try to enjoy the creativity of people instead of judging them. But last year, my interest in his biography increased because of… Bohemian Rhapsody.
Freddie’s biopic left no stone unturned. It became the prism Queen shall be remembered by. Especially with the band’s involvement in the project and treating it very personal. Sadly, they turned Freddie Mercury’s life to PG-13 and this kind of destroyed the magic. The film was trying to be serious and real. But at the same time, it lacked a simple truth. It was sure emotional and Rami was great, but Bohemian Rhapsody had had problems ever since it’d started production and I believe that they left some issues without consideration. And the full product was not exactly mindblowing.
The announcement of Rocketman fit perfectly in the timing. A musician’s biopic was on everybody’s tongue and another one was coming. This is, however, where the similarities end.
Elton John’s life was somewhat similar to Freddie’s. Talented. Broken. Addicted. Gay. The subjects cumulate and yet the films go separate ways. Rocketman is not only different from Bohemian Rhapsody. It’s simply better. And for that, Rocketman doesn’t approach filmmaking anyhow shockingly nor fresh. It simply checks all the boxes it should have. Looks like recently in the film industry people don’t even tend to do that.
Rocketman embraces all the sides of a good musical. It isn’t a choreographical pearl like La La Land but it gives equal amount of magic. It brings joy and tears and strips the truth from all its covers. According to WatchMojo, apart from the scripted nuances to put a smile or a frame, the story is 100% real. The film does not hide from judgement, it gives everything on a silver platter and stands up for itself. The real Elton John was very close with the project and he himself stated that he did not want lies there. And I adore this approach.
The structure of the musical is perfection. It is the easiest way to tell a musician’s story and yet it gives all the passion and all the reality it requires. Elton John’s music runs from the very first second. Songs aren’t used accurately to the actual timeline but more as a halo to what is happening. They enhance the emotions and this is exactly why I love music so much. Especially in movies.
I won’t be telling you what’s the plot about. I believe you can sense it yourselves. There is everything you should expect out of the pop icon. And frankly, I got nothing I was not okay with.
Focusing on the other aspects of the film – it is exquisite. Taron Egerton does an incredible job. He plays Elton excellently with so many brilliant details known to the actual singer. I specifically enjoyed the moment in the studio where he sings in the actual way of singing. It comes to pronunciation using every damn muscle on your face. It is so damn simple but it is the kind of focus on details what make me love Rocketman so much. Taron steals the stage in every single second. If only he didn’t have his wide jaw, I would completely fall for him being more Elton than Elton. The hair was just like they took them from the pop star himself.
Following this statement, the costumes, make-up and all art departments outdid themselves. It is all made so dreamy and believable. The trailers and the photos already tell quite a lot about the level of their craft and yet I was still impressed with all the stage costumes of Elton and all the similarities to the reality. The same goes to visual effects, especially with the ending scene. Can’t even.
Frankly, the only thing I actually didn’t like was Richard Madden’s play with accents. I finished watching Bodyguard only a few weeks ago and I had a huge comparison between his two roles. In Rocketman, he kind of tries to get this southern American accent or I don’t know what else it is supposed to be. I had this Mexican immigrant vibe at the beginning. And it seems Richard changes it slightly throughout the film. So yeah, you’ve got something to work on, pal. (for the record, I do love his true Glasgowian one).
The side characters? I was so very surprised with Bryce Dallas Howard as Elton’s mother. She seemed a worse actress in Jurassic World and it took me a while to connect her in these two roles. She didn’t have a big part to play but it was a vivid one. I must say she gave an example of her skills. I do hope she goes with it.
Also, Gemma Jones as the grandmother had this adorably sweet and heartwarming part. She was a very big influence on the real pre-Elton Reginald Dwight’s life and Rocketman gave her all the credit she deserved. However, my personal favourite was Bernie played by Jamie Bell. Ever since Billy Elliot he kind of gets lucky with his acting but in here I kinda didn’t expect anything else. He was just right for the role.
What more can I say? I can’t tell you a thing about editing and cinematography. I think I’m still under the charm of the film. Dexter Fletcher did take his lesson from producing said Queen biopic and in his directorial test, he passed in flying colours. It is somewhat slower in the second act and there are scenes that feel a little bit confusing or cumbersome. But then it doesn’t make me love it less.
Just go see it. Please. Let Rocketman earn something. I promise it is a journey you do want to take. I don’t believe there’s anyone who doesn’t enjoy at least one of Elton’s hits.
To me, Elton John was always more of an icon than actually the pop-star. My life was full of his music (sometimes even not realising that it was his). My VHS Lion King had his performance of ‘Can you feel the love tonight’ and it was rolling pretty often. After all, I did sing his songs back in my singing days. I need to see it in the cinema again. I think I’ll go sooner than later. It is the most magical experience I’ve had for a while now. I can’t stop looping the soundtrack anyway.
Too many good photos and frames here. Not sorry.