Taron Egerton sets the bar for Best Actor of 2019 with his electric, transformative portrayal of Elton John in the rock-fantasy, "Rocketman."
The events that you'll witness in "Rocketman" actually happened...well, kinda. It's the life story of pop-rock icon Elton John, told in a whirlwind of fantastic sequences and outlandish costumes covering all the basics that normal biopics tend to. But this film is anything but "normal," much like its subject, and it's a breath-taking achievement of sight and sound...it takes all of his highs and lows, all of his personal achievements and career milestones, and throws them in a blender on high-speed. This pureed mix of past and present is expertly handled by director Dexter Fletcher ("Wild Bill"), who manages to keep all of these balls in the air for nearly two hours.
Elton - born Reginald Dwight - had a tough childhood, with a cold-as-ice father (Steven Mackintosh) and an uncaring mother (Bryce Dallas Howard). But he had an ear for music at an early age, and soon found himself playing piano and performing in local restaurants and bars even as a teen. As he continued playing into his 20s, he was discovered by Liberty Records and would meet Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell), who became his life-long best-friend and songwriting partner since 1967. Bernie, in fact, has written nearly every single Elton John hit, giving lyrics to Elton who then puts them to music. Once paired up, the rest, as they say, is history.
Taron Egerton is simply outstanding, embodying the adult Elton John and singing all the songs in the film. According to reports, it was important to the real Elton John that Taron's voice be used, and while there obviously is no substitute for the real Elton John, what Egerton does with the role is remarkable. The screenplay, by Oscar-nominated screenwriter Lee Hall ("Billy Elliott"), gives Egerton lots to chew on.
Can Egerton possibly win some awards for this performance on the heels of Rami Malek winning for his portrayal of Freddie Mercury in last year's music biopic, "Bohemian Rhapsody"? Egerton has definitely set the bar, and it would be insane if he wasn't in the conversation. But by the Fall, it could be Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Hello Oscar.
Elton's many addictions as well as his personal relationships frame the movie, so there's much for Egerton to sink his teeth into that doesn't involve on-stage performances. And while a few musical numbers feel shoe-horned in, others flow organically, and it's only fitting that the "Rocketman" song is the most impressive in the film. It begins underwater with Elton confronting his younger self, and ends with an awesome choreographed number shot in silhouette.
Like "Bohemian Rhapsody" last year, I could see "Rocketman" becoming this year's fan-favorite film...the movie that regular moviegoers find themselves cheering for come awards season. To it's credit, I don't see why critics wouldn't do the same. "Rocketman" is a surprisingly powerful and refreshing musical, and a rockin' celebration of one of the greatest and most popular living-legends of our time.
Genre: Music, Biography, Drama.
Run Time: 2 hours, 1 minute.
Starring: Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Richard Madden, Bryce Dallas Howard, Gemma Jones, Matthew Illesley, Tate Donovan.
Written by Lee Hall ("Victoria & Albert," "War Horse," "Billy Elliott").
Directed by Dexter Fletcher ("Eddie the Eagle," "Sunshine on Leith," "Wild Bill").
"Rocketman" opens everywhere on Friday, May 31st, 2019.
Looking for a specific movie or review?