Rocketman (2019)

rocketman poster 2019 movie elton john
8.5 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 9/10
Visuals: 9/10

Better than average biopic that takes different approaches

Some typical musical biopic points

Movie Info

Movie Name: Rocketman

Studio: New Republic Pictures

Genre(s): Drama/Musical

Release Date(s):  May 16, 2019 (Cannes)/May 22, 2019 (UK)/May 31, 2019 (US)

MPAA Rating: R

rocketman elton john trubadour concert floating taron egerton

Music lifts you up!

Elton John (Taron Egerton) is battling lots of demons.  With a troubled childhood and a distant father, Reginald Dwight finds escape through the piano and music.  When he teams with a writer named Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell), John and Taupin find musical magic.  Dubbing himself “Elton John”, John’s music becomes legend, but his problems persist.  John finds himself seeking love and mixing business with pleasure in manager John Reid (Richard Madden).  Spiraling out of control, Elton John stands on a cliff…and he could either fall or jump.

Directed by Dexter Fletcher, Rocketman is a musical biopic of Elton John.  The movie was released at Cannes and received praise from critics and fans.  The film won an Academy Award for Best Original Song (“(I’m Gonna) Love Me Again”).

rocketman elton john costume

It’s just casual day-wear

I didn’t really enjoy Bohemian Rhapsody, and when Rocketman was released, it immediately had comparisons to that film (good and bad).  Watching Rocketman, I think it is unfortunate that it was released so close (and after Bohemian Rhapsody) because it is a better movie.

The film doesn’t entirely take the typical biopic approach.  Yes, you have all the typical pieces:  a neglectful family, drug use, a bad manager, and a star being destroying by his abilities, but the movie turns it into a strange musical with a relatively unreliable narrator (though the story is rather locked in by a very publically recorded life).  It just provides an extra layer to the movie that I feel many musical biopics are missing.

Taron Egerton shows decent range in the movie.  The character is flamboyant yet quiet and hard to balance, but he does a good job showing a lot of insecurity and doubt.  He has a nice supporting cast in Jamie Bell as his longtime collaborator and Richard Madden as his sleazy manager.  Bryce Dallas Howard has a different role as John’s mother and Gemma Jones plays one of John’s only supporters as his grandmother.

rocketman elton john swimming pool scene taron edgerton

I’m a scuba man!

The movie’s visuals are pretty compelling.  While Bohemian Rhapsody went for realism in the portrayal of the concerts and events, Rocketman went for surreal.  Moments like the music lifting Elton and his audience off the ground at the Troubadour and blending of music and events is interesting and clever.

Rocketman takes the typical biopic and does manage to make it more interesting.  It falls into the normal traps of biopics by blending the reality of the situations with dramatized events but having John essentially “make-up” his own life story helps smooth over some of that.  If you are a fan of Elton John you should seek out the movie…but even “non-fans” can enjoy it for its style.

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Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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