In this blog I try my hand at writing a film review. As it turns out, reviewing a film is hard, so it has sat in my pending tray since March until a professional film critic said that he writes a review as a story. This sparked an of idea how I could write my version.
I have broken down the review into a few sections:
What is it.
Who’s In It,
What To Look Out For,
Is It Any Good,
and finally a
Star Rating. I have now regraded using a new scoring system,
I hope you like it, and as ever I would love to hear your thoughts, should I write another one? Anyway enough rambling, here is my Rocketman Review….
I was first introduced to (Rocketman Director) Dexter Fletcher in 1989 through the Children’s TV show Press Gang. Fast forward 30 years and if someone would have told me that Dexter would be handling a budget of over 40 Million Dollars, telling the story of one of the most iconic pop-stars on the planet, I would have laughed at them in the face. Well here I am laughing, as Fletcher has done just that. Rocketman has won 21 Awards including 1 Oscar!
What Is Rocketman?
In its essence, Rocketman is a Biopic showing the transformation of a child named Reginald Dwight through to the pop icon that is Elton John. The movie charts his troubled formative childhood years that shows us glimpses of his genius, through to teenage years and young adult angst. It shines a window on key life events such as his coming out, drug and substance addiction and introduces us to the brilliant Bernie Taupin. All this is framed around Elton’s epic songs. It is reported that Dexter and Elton talked extensively about his younger years and this shows. Biopics can be staid, boring and procedural, this however has been injected with a massive jolt of Elton’s flamboyant personality and you get the sense you are watching a very personal history unfold on screen.
Who’s In It?
Taron Egerton plays Elton John. This raised eyebrows as Egerton does not seem a natural choice to play such an iconic star. His performance in the film is visceral, gritty and charming in equal measure. Just take a look at this live performance to get a taste of how good he is.
Jamie Bell plays Elton’s longtime lyricist and writing partner Bernie Taupin. Bernie and Elton have a complicated relationship, that Jamie seems to revel in.
Richard Madden plays Elton’s first manager, John Reid. Madden gets a fair amount to do in the film from intimate scenes through to singing and like the rest of the cast looks like he’s having a ball.
Bryce Dallas Howard plays Elton’s Mother Sheila Farebrother. Elton’s apparently toxic relationship with his Mom is widely reported. Howard brings to the screen a totally selfish character who is completely at home with telling her son his homosexuality will never make him a pop star.
What To Look Out For
The Music: Director Fletcher is at great pains to tell Elton’s story. In an inspired move he uses Elton’s songs to make this happen. The songs used are not chronologically correct but you hardly notice this when watching. They have been chosen specifically to aid the story and this only highlights the raw emotion embedded into their lyrics, that otherwise just become radio fodder to sing along to.
The costumes: Egerton gets to wear the most amazing outfits, actual creations for the film and recreations of costumes worn by Elton on stage.
Drug Abuse: after watching the film my first reaction was ‘How is that man still alive?’ The drug abuse on show is graphic and how it managed to sneak a 15 rating from the sensors is quite something. Still you get the sense that what is shown on screen is only a tiny fraction of what actually went on.
The films finale: The song ‘I’m Still Standing’ inter-cut with actual photos of Elton. If that doesn’t make you smile, I don’t know what will.
Is Rocketman Any Good?
In a word YES. The movie harks back to the golden age of musicals. Those big and brash 1950’s films that had ambition and didn’t mind looking over the top. Whilst being a visual spectacle it does not stray far from its source – Elton himself. I was aware of Elton’s songs but Rocketman has given new context around them, thanks to Egerton’s performances bringing the songs to life.
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