Review by James Lindorf
In 2014, the world was introduced to Taron Egerton in Kingsman The Secret Service. Two years later he partnered with Director Dexter Fletcher to make Eddie the Eagle, a biopic about the famous British skier. In 2017 Taron returned to the world of the Kingsman, and now two years later he has again partnered with Fletcher on a biopic, this time about legendary rocker Elton John. Rocketman is a musical fantasy about the transformation of shy piano prodigy Reginald Dwight into international superstar Elton John. Rocketman also stars Jamie Bell as Elton’s longtime lyricist and writing partner Bernie Taupin, Richard Madden as manager John Reid, and Bryce Dallas Howard as Elton’s mother, Sheila Farebrother. Rocketman was directed by Fletcher with a script by Lee Hall, has a runtime of 121 minutes and will be released wide by Paramount Pictures on May 31st, 2019.
There is a chance that Egerton will receive some Oscar buzz later this year. The Academy loves a biopic, he efficiently handled all the emotional weight of the film, and he sang all of the songs. The early release date may be his only hindrance. Elton has a complicated backstory riddled with abandonment issues, addictions, longing for the impossible, and the film shies away from nothing. Taron perfectly harnessed his charisma to tap into the charm and pathos that made Elton a legend. Jamie Bell and Richard Madden were also at the top of their game with their performances as Elton’s friend/business partner and manager. Bryce Dallas Howard was fine as his mother, but her narrow performance was outshined by the other major players.
When you tackle a musician as emotional and flamboyant as Elton John, you have to go big if you plan on fully embracing who he is as a person and entertainer. Fletcher and cinematographer George Richmond go above and beyond creating a beautiful looking film with elaborate transitions, a few dance numbers and plenty of intimate moments where you get to understand the man behind the star. For me, Rocketman combines the best elements of recent musical hits Bohemian Rhapsody and La La Land, but it bordered on excess at times, leaving some moments feeling overproduced when they could have existed on their own. It is a spectacle worth seeing, regardless of a couple minor drawbacks, in a theater that has the best sound you can find.