ROCKETMAN is a zany, guilty pleasure, new Disney classic for me. It stars Harland Williams as this idiot geek who actually gets his dream comes true and becomes an astronaut and gets to go on the first mission to Mars. Wait a minute, oh shit, wrong movie. Sorry, suddenly I was having good ol’ flashbacks to 1997. No, THIS Rocketman is a hard Rated R musical look at the crazy life of one of the best musicians to ever grace the world, Elton John. As you probably know because its been reported a dozen times, the director of this, Dexter Fletcher, directed the last two weeks of shoots on Bohemian Rhapsody after Bryan Singer went AWOL, so Rocketman is being compared, both fairly and unfairly, to that film. The question on everyone’s mind is, is it better than Bohemian Rhapsody, as reviews on Rotten Tomato, CinemaScore, etc. would allow you to believe? It is, but not by much. However, if you are one of those people that said “fuck the critics” and enjoyed the hell out of Bohemian Rhapsody, then you can basically tell me to fuck off, because you’ll probably love this.
And it’s not like I hated Bohemian Rhapsody. I just thought it was okay, elevated more than it should have been by Rami Malek’s incredible Oscar winning (and well deserved) performance. But just like Bohemian Rhapsody, Rocketman is your standard bio pic fare, only elevated by the fact that it is more of a musical than Rhapsody was, Taron Egerton gives an award worthy performance, and this also dives deeper into the sexuality of Elton John than Rhapsody did with Mercury. But that’s about it. If you seen one rock star/musician/singer bio pic, you’ve seen them all. Even with earlier this year’s The Dirt on Netflix, all of them are Rise To Stardom, Fall From Stardom because of drugs, sex, alcohol or a combination of the three, and then usually Rise Back To Stardom and in the end either that person dies of a tragedy, or they overcome their demons and lived and long and happy rest of their lives. Well, since most of us know that Elton John is still alive, how do you think the ending to this one plays out?
When the movie isn’t a musical, it drags considerably. It starts out well enough, in that it has a bunch of musical song and dance numbers at the beginning, but somewhere in the middle of the film I think the filmmakers forgot it was a musical and tried to turn it into a hardcore drama, and the musical numbers were few and far between, IMO of course. It just didn’t have that balance to make it a great film, and if you are telling a rock bio pic story that has been told a billion times before, you HAVE to be different and you HAVE to have that balance if you are trying to tell a story a different way but at the same time still having that same point A to point B narrative. And the movie has balance, but not enough for me to consider it a great film. The movie does do a good job of putting Elton John’s demons in the forefront of the film, and it explores his homosexuality a great deal more and a great deal better than the PG-13 Bohemian Rhapsody did. However, at one point in his life Elton John got married to a woman, and I thought the film would be a bit longer and delve into that relationship more, but alas, it was over in two seconds, with it just skipping about 5 years later, and not explaining the conflicting details. The movie was only about 2 hours, it could’ve went a little longer in that area to make it tighter.
I promise though, the movie isn’t terrible at all. I liked it well enough and that’s because I love Elton John’s music. They go through most of all of his hits and it was a joy to hear them on screen, much as it was a joy to hear Queen’s music on screen in Bohemian Rhapsody. Taron Egerton also gives a hell of a performance and it is elevated by the fact that he sings all the songs and actually sounds and moves like Elton John. If there is only one reason to see this movie, it is for Taron. While I hope that the movie doesn’t get a best picture nomination at the end of the year, I will be a little sad if Taron is forgotten and not recognized. And when the movie is a musical, all the song and dance numbers are fun and directed very well by Fletcher. It’s the quiet moments that needed a lot more work.
But anyway, seriously, if you loved Bohemian Rhapsody, fuck my luke-warm review. You’ll love Rocketman. It’s definitely better than Rhapsody in that it actually tries to do something a bit different. Uneven, but different. You’ll especially love this film if you love Elton John and his music. Oh shit, I forgot to mention the supporting cast. Richard Madden completely shed his Robb Stark image and was harrowing as Elton John’s dick manager/lover. Bryce Dallas Howard was good, and much better than the Jurassic World movies, as Elton’s mom, but the true standout with Jamie Bell as Elton’s song writing partner Bernie Taupin. Jamie Bell needs to be in more things and if he was possibly nominated for supporting at the end of the year I can see why. Anyway, now that we got three rock biopics within the span of half a year, it’s probably going to be a long long time before we see another one. And you could do worse than this film.