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Film Review: Rocketman (2019)

Rocketman (2019) is a musical bio-pic that tells the story of Elton John through his catalogue of hit songs. Directed by Dexter Fletcher, this film stars Taron Egerton as Elton as his life story is told from beginning to his darkest moments. Bryce Dallas Howard, Jamie Bell and Richard Madden also join the cast as we get to see the relationship between Elton and the people around him.
Rocketman (2019) – source: Paramount Pictures
The first thing that you should know going into this film, that I do not think a lot of people know, is that this film is a full on musical. This is not a case like Bohemian Rhapsody or A Star is Born where the music is grounded in the situations, but the songs are instead used to highlight the situation that Elton is in at the time. Other characters come in to sing some parts of the song and join in on the choreography, and at first I was hesitant about the direction that they were going for. However, it seemed like a great way to break away from other recent music based films and helps drive the narrative for the story.
The acting here is incredible, and of course the main source of that is from Egerton as Elton John. They have had a weird sort of friendship on screen, from Egerton singing his song in Sing to Elton making a significant cameo in Kingsman: The Golden Circle. Egerton as of right now has given one of the best performances in 2019, and the fact that he sung all of the songs himself makes the performance even more impressive. He thoroughly deserves to get a Best Actor nomination from the Oscars after this role.
The other actors in the film also step up their game to match this performance, and they certainly do. Jamie Bell and Richard Madden are two of the highlights for me, as they too have to give some musical performances throughout the film. The relationships established in the film work so well because each actor pulls their weight and does their part to sell this story. 
Rocketman (2019) – source: Paramount Pictures
This is far away from a film grounded in reality, as there are several sections of the film which go down the fantasy route. I knew there would be elements of it just by watching the trailer, but I was not expecting it to go as far as it actually did. Some of it works really well, such as when Elton is talking to his younger self. I think that was really touching and a great moment to have in the film. However, sometimes I feel they go a little bit over the top which can distract from the story overall. Yet, because it is about Elton, I do get why the tone was so drastic and it works for him as the subject matter.
The tone of the film was also a lot darker than I was expecting, especially for a musical. This highlights how dark Elton’s life was, and I appreciate the direction that they went to. I do wish that they perhaps created a lighter tone at some point and highlight some of the incredible things that Elton did in his life, instead of dwelling on his toxic relationships and dark past. It was a bold move that created a more powerful performance, but it also reduces the re-watchability of the film for myself.
For a first watch, I also found certain aspects of the film to not be as tight. The middle is really well done, but it does take some time to get into the vision that the team had for the film. This film does continually flash back and forward from this particular scene that is mainly focused on at the end, which I am not huge on as a concept overall. It was an effective scene for them to use throughout, but I could have done with less of it personally. The ending is also anti-climatic and feels like the team couldn’t find a way to properly end this story. I was not expecting a Live Aid equivalent ending like in Bohemian Rhapsody, but I was wishing for more considering how showy the rest of the film is.
Rocketman (2019) – source: Paramount Pictures
I was expecting to go in and enjoy this film, due to the cast and how much I enjoyed Bohemian Rhapsody. Yes, this film is very different from the Queen biopic, but that is to reflect Elton’s story and personality, which shines through this film. The acting, direction and story is superb throughout the film, and aside from the shock of the musical style (which will grow on me in a second viewing) and some weird tonal choices throughout the film, I really enjoyed this film. I am sure this film will get an even better score when I see it again, but I would highly recommend this to anyone, especially if you are a fan of Elton’s work.


Have you seen Rocketman yet? Were you shocked by how far they took the fantasy/musical aspect of this film, or did you wish they toned it down? Comment down below and let’s have a conversation.

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