One of the best trailers of the last few years has been rattling around the internet for months now, and it is finally time to review the finished product. Rocketman was the highly anticipated bio-flick turned jukebox musical celebrating the life and career of music legend Elton John.
This film really pitched itself as a musical mastermind with some of the hottest tunes from the legendary singer accompanying a rollercoaster of a journey. While the film was not exactly a swing and a miss, at best it was a swing and a soft tap.
Taron Egerton played Elton John and hats off to him as he gave an altogether flawless performance. His singing was impeccable, and he was completely convincing as both John’s extravagant showman self as well as the struggling artist he truly was. He was an extremely likeable character, and it would be impossible to fault him.
However, a lead actor cannot carry the weight of an entire film, and there were some serious issues. The film used an AA meeting as the start and end points of the film, and the audience checked back in with John throughout the flick, moving from flashback to present time. This trope has been so overdone that it really lacked any imagination and moving back to John in the ‘present’ day really didn’t provide any benefit to the feature. Instead, it made it seem a bit sloppy and almost amateurish.
There were plenty of interesting characters in the film, including John’s mother, good friend Bernie and his manager turned lover John Reid. These characters each received enough screen time to really peek our interests; however, were all left rather anticlimactically. There was no resolution to any of the characters following John’s return to sobriety, which was rather disappointing. To build up the relationships so crucially throughout the flick, and make them so relevant to John’s story only to abandon them in the end, was rather pointless.
The only attempt at rounding off these characters was potentially the most cringe-worthy sequence throughout the film. John sat in rehab and had visions of his friends and family, as well as his younger self, emerging from the shadows to speak with him. If the ghost-like appearances, which would have been better suited to a school play, were not enough, then their pointless conversation would have you rolling your eyes. Nothing of real value was shared by any of the party’s and it was a rather unsatisfying final showdown between John and his inner demons.
To its credit, the music in the film was electric, and the flick did a great way of balancing between diegetic performances and musical-esk scenes. The songs Tiny Dance and Rocketman both received particularly moving and captivating sequences; however it was still not quite enough to lift the film out of mediocrity.
My final bugbear with film took place in the last five seconds, which speaks to the scale of disappointment I felt. John’s mother made a powerful and profoundly hurtful statement to him in the early part of the film. She told him that, as a homosexual, he would never be loved properly – which, despite being entirely untrue, really cut up the performer. The film concluded with a few still images of the real Elton John and his life post-rehab. The final image was him with his now partner, David Furnish with the captain ‘Elton John was finally loved, properly’. I found the sentiment of the statement somewhat disgusting, as it completely disregarded his immensely positive relationships with Bernie and his grandmother, who both supported him entirely throughout the flick. It felt very aggressive and it was a bit of a gross moment to leave the film on.
Overall, while the film had some strengths, it failed to live up to the hype and was a pretty perfect example of a flick with a trailer that is stronger than the end product.