Rocketman is the musical fantasy biopic based on the life of Elton John. The film follows the highs and lows of his career, through the early years in his life to the days spent in rehab. Elton John is one of my favourite artists of all time, so I have been looking forward to seeing this movie. Rocketman has very similar beats to most musical biopics, but Rocketman takes a fantastical approach to the story that is more akin to La La Land then it is Bohemian Rhapsody. This is a full out musical filled with dance numbers and characters who break into song quite often. Can Rocketman break from the traditional and drawn out formula of a rock biopic or can it become something of its own?
Taron Egerton is a revelation as Elton John. His performance is a marvel to watch. Taron Egerton completely loses himself in this role that I no longer saw Eggsy from Kingsman, I only saw Elton. It was scary how much he looked like Elton John. If that wasn’t good enough for you, Egerton did all of his own singing. The man has an incredible voice, and he must’ve worked really hard for this role because it shows in this movie. This is one of my favourite performances of the past few years. Truly spectacular! Richard Madden, The Young Wolf himself, was devilishly good. He plays Elton’s manager who abused and used him for his benefit. I hated him so much, and he plays the role up so much. Jamie Bell portrays Bernie Taupin, the lyrical half of Elton John’s music. I’ve always liked him, so it was nice to see him in this role.
Does this movie follow a similar formula to most biopics? Yes and no. It does have similar beats to other rock biopics such as Walk the Line or Bohemian Rhapsody, but Rocketman sets itself apart from those movies by being a musical fantasy. Characters would often break into song and dance numbers to tell the story. This was so refreshing to see. The music numbers were dream-like and had a sense of surrealism that was a match made perfect with the music of Elton John. The Rocketman music number was my favourite in the film. It was able to capture the emotions of the characters so much better because instead of worrying about staying within the laws of reality, Rocketman was able to find new creative ways to express its characters through vivid imagery and breathtaking musical numbers. Now, I’m not a musical fan really at all. I love La La Land, and that’s about it for musicals for me. Rocketman, as a musical worked for me, Elton John’s music will sweep you away.
Elton John has stated that he has not lived a PG-13 life, he has lived an R-rated life. This is an R-rated movie, despite its PG Canadian rating, which doesn’t make much sense to me. I don’t know this for a fact, but I’m sure Elton was heavily involved with this movie, and I appreciated the courage it took to tell the not so glamorous side to his life. One of my biggest complaints with Bohemian Rhapsody was how much they held back the dark party side of Freddie Mercury. Rocketman does not hold back from that side of Elton’s life. I felt it made for a more compelling story. I really got inside of Elton Johns’ head and felt what he was feeling because of it.
Rocketman does drag in a few places. There were moments I felt the movie lingering too long on scenes that I think could have been cut down to create a brisker pace. Rocketman’s ending was very abrupt to me. We spend a lot of time stewing in the problems and drug addictions Elton had (which I wouldn’t change), that by the time we get to the end, it feels like we speed through it because of how fast it was in comparison to the rest of the movie. It definitely builds to a satisfying ending, but not to compare it to Bohemian Rhapsody, Rocketman doesn’t have a Live Aid scene at the end. What I mean by that is Bohemian Rhapsody builds to an epic climactic ending that delivers a powerful punch to the end of the movie, the Live Aid scene. Rocketman doesn’t have that punch at the end of the film. It’s still a great conclusion, it just doesn’t have that punch to it.
Rocketman is a bold and fantastical biopic. The music of Elton John is moving and works so well in telling his story. Go see this movie for its unique musical numbers, the great story of Elton John’s life that is not all that pretty at times, and the electric and absolutely brilliant performance by Taron Egerton. This is a must-see for any kind of Elton John fan, the die-hard fan, casual fan, “I’ve only seen The Lion King” fan, go see this movie. In fact, this is a movie for fans of good music and good movies.