Rocketman is everything Bohemian Rhapsody should have been and so much more. There was no way that the Elton John biopic would be able to avoid comparison with the Academy Award winning Freddy Mercury biopic, but maybe that wasn’t such a bad thing. Rocketman is so much better than Bohemian Rhapsodyand a large part of that has to do with film’s honest approach. Rocketman pulls no punches and ever shies from the truth (despite including a myriad of fantastical moments) – where Bohemian Rhapsody vilified its main character, erased his bisexuality, and painted over the rock icon star’s life with a rose-tinted re-imagining.
And that’s where the comparisons with Bohemian Rhapsody should end. Rocketman deserves to be reviewed on its own merits, of which it has many. For the point of this review, we’re going to look at the three things that really made Rocketman a huge success and why we think it’ll go on to be the greatest film of 2019.
3. Elton John as Executive Producer
I’ll be honest, I didn’t like the idea of Elton John serving as executive producer on his own biopic. I was afraid it would lead to sugarcoating the icon’s life and lead to a film that was more fiction than reality. My doubts were eliminated upon viewing the film. Elton John input is necessary for the film; without it we would lose some of the moments that made the film really heart-touching, heartbreaking, and the heart of who Elton John is.
It would have been really easy for the film to gloss over some of the less savory moments of Elton’s life, his drug problems, his suicide attempt, his anger issues, but the film didn’t. It offered a realistic and honest retrospective of Elton’s demons, something likely not possible without his input. And while some of the characters were vilified in the film, such as Elton’s mother, by all accounts they were accurate representations of the real people.
2. Soundtrack and Choreography
I think most people going into the film expected some great music via the talents of Elton John, but I think what a lot of us didn’t expect was the way the music would be incorporated into the film or the stunning choreography that would go along with it. In the early part of the film, its incredibly moving to hear various characters sing songs such as I Want Love and the interactions between older Elton and childhood Reggie in the films opening number The Bitch is Back. The child actors cast for the film, Sebastian Rich and Kit Connor, deliver astonishing vocals and are a pleasure to watch. Throughout the film, Elton’s music is used perfectly to highlight the emotional journey of our star and you’ll be sure to walk out of the theater with out least one song stuck in your head.
The choreography of the film is also amazing. There are several notable examples from the opening number in The Bitch is Back which featured a phenomenally choreographed group number to the floating audience at the Troubadour show with Crocodile Rock playing. The moment that left my jaw agape was Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting). The film’s choreographer, Adam Murray, accomplishes an amazing feat with the staging of the fight in the bar to the 30+ person dance after Taron Egerton takes over. The choreography at the carnival is fun, fresh, and excellently executed. Add into this stunning dance sequence the amazing cinematography that at first appears as a tracking shot to the transition of Kit Connor into Taron Egerton, along with the framing of the dancing against the picturesque lights of the carnival and you have an amazing moment that will go down as one of the greatest in musical film history.
1. Taron Egerton
I’ve been closely following Taron Egerton’s career ever since he appeared in the television mini-series The Smoke and following his portrayal of the titular character in Eddie the Eagle have adamantly said what I say right now: He is one of the greatest actors of his generation. Best known for his role as Eggsy in the Kingsman franchise, Taron Egerton is quintessential to Rocketman and encapsulates the very essence of Elton John bringing heartfelt realness to the larger-than-life character.
Not enough can be said about Egerton’s acting chops, simply put this role will earn him an Academy Award for Best Actor. That’s not a prediction, that’s a fact. There is no foreseeable way anyone could put in a performance this year that accomplishes more than what Egerton was able to accomplish in Rocketman. And that’s just on the basis of his acting ability, when you add in the fact that that wasn’t Elton John’s voice being dubbed over, that was really Egerton singing proving that if this whole acting thing doesn’t work out he could definitely make it as a rock star.
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