So there I am, in the middle of an intense brainstorming session in the ideas factory/pub and over Cigarettes And Alcohol, my script-guy dared me to review Rocketman with no fewer than 30! other British pop songs titles seamlessly woven into it. After polishing off my Champagne Supernova cocktail I decided Who Wants To Live Forever?
Now, as I’m Under Pressure to hit my deadline and not feeling too clever, I’m wondering if we should have Imagine(d) a different challenge.
Anyway, Rocketman tells the story of Elton John played not by Michael Caine but by Taron Egerton who does all his own singing and that boy has some lungs. He gives an amazing performance as the lead role, telling us the story using the tried and true method of the flashback! In the context of crashing an AA meeting and proceeding to tell us what happened Yesterday when he lived in Our house with his Killer Queen of a mother (Bryce Dallas Howard operating under seemingly the sole instruction to make Dolores Umbridge look human). His Father Figure leaves pretty early on and Elton sets off to become a music superstar!
Director Dexter Fletcher who finished off Bohemian Rhapsody (that one doesn’t count by the way) after issues with the films original director has really Reach(ed) For The Stars with this one. I was reminded a lot of the Blues Brothers (AKA the greatest musical ever made) as random groups of people start breaking out into choreographed song and dance routines all over the show.
But at the same time this film feels like it has something of the theater about it. Like you have the big song and dance number, then Elton narrates a bit whilst the curtain is closed and they change the set dressing around. It’s not a complaint as such, but if this turns up in the West End in a few years It Only Takes A Minute to remember that I called it.
Anyway, the films got the usual issues in that I have no idea how much of Eltons (Yes, i’f perfectly aware that his real name is Reginald Kenneth Dwight but everyone knows him as Elton John. It’s a similar deal with Maurice Joseph Micklewhite and Stanley Martin Lieber)
But back to Space Oddity and we find that whilst Taron is great in the role, the film is very nearly stolen by I Wish I Was James Bond Richard Madden who plays the slimiest, most toxic character outside of a pantomime and very nearly steals the show with his one liners and charm.
Another huge thing this film has over Bohemian Rhapsody (still doesn’t count as I’m talking about the horrifyingly over-rated film) is that this, well, it actually feels like a film instead of a product designed to sell a brand. We see Elton Under Pressure, living the life of a Rock ‘N’ Roll Star which, whilst it’s debauched and hedonistic looks horrifying and empty. We see Elton, days after a Cardiac Arrest being forced to perform on stage by Madden who seemingly lives by the phrase that The Show Must Go On.
I would have liked a plot thread about how if Eltons habit of taking his Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da Da out of his Baggy Trousers for the Right Guy as opposed to Fat Bottomed Girls to have been explored a bit more. It’s brought up, implied that it could end his career if Anyway Anyhow Anywhere it ever reches the light of day. I know that sacrifices have to be made to fit years of a Human life into a 2 hour film but it just seems a bit of a waste. His ill-advised straight marriage is also something that I would like to seen explored in greater detail.
However, during the film your barely notice as we zip through Golden Years and see Elton’s life as a fantasy flashback. It puts a smile on your face and a hell of a lot of his songs sound amazing, even if they weren’t the soundtrack to much of my younger years (No way was I trusted with the Radio Gaga dial when I was a Kidz.)
At the end of the day, Rocketman is arguably the best music biopic I’ve seen since Ray and I was so grateful that they went down the musical fantasy route rather than just telling the story straight. (See, I can do puns as well.)
The supporting cast are all they need to be and I did like the films habit of just having Elton wake up after Rolling In The Deep for who knows how long to not only show us how near to the sun the Rocketman flew but also as a pretty cool way to show us that we’re a little further down the road.
Bohemian Rhapsody. (This one counts.)
All in? This is a fascinating, funny, thought provoking look at one of the greatest aritsts of all time and it’s the first major studio film to depict a male gay sex scene on screen. Now, it’s true that Brokeback Mountain and Call Me by Your Name also depicted gay sex scenes, but these were both released by smaller “boutique” studio off-shoots and therefore don’t count as they were seen by baba o’riley and maybe 3 other people.
It’s also another point against Bohemian Rhapsody which didn’t show same-sex love-making in the such detail, despite the sexuality of the protagonist, good old fashioned lover boy Freddie Mercury.
Look for it in the top half of my top ten at the end of the year. I’m off to lie down and plot revenge on whoever’s stupid idea this was at the same time as resuming my vigil for a film version of the Madness musical Our House.
My Score- See It Now