The life and legend of Elton John flys in hot and screams across the cinema screen in a flow of glitter and magic in Rocketman, and it’s a movie-going experience that you won’t want to miss out on.
Rocketman is an epic musical fantasy about the incredible human story of Elton John’s (Taron Egerton) breakthrough years.The film follows the fantastical journey of transformation from shy piano prodigy Reginald Dwight into international superstar Elton John.
Cinema adaptations documenting the lives of musical artists are nothing new, but Rocketman is a whole new different type of fabulous as it takes audiences behind the life of one Reginald Dwight, who is reborn on stage behind his piano as Elton John (Taron Egerton) and the rest, as they say, is history. Noted actor turned director Dexter Fletcher (Eddie the Eagle, Bohemian Rhapsody) is on hand to guide the fantastical tale that is Rocketman and it’s the music that leads the way here into a path and life of unfiltered fantasy. Taking their cues from John’s eclectic collection of music, Fletcher and his team use the musician’s songs to tell his life story in a way where it’s the music that speaks for John, and this combined with a sharp sense of magical-fantasy makes for a very appealing watch.
Taking on the role of John Elton is one of Hollywood’s brightest young stars in the form of Welsh actor Taron Egerton, and while he’s become a solid box office draw, Egerton really sets himself a challenge with Rocketman and he delivers totally and absolutely here. As John, his role is lived rather than just performed and with every passing frame on the screen, you feel as if you are watching Elton himself expressed through Egerton. This is no mere performance, but a fantastical mirrored self that we see on stage wrapped up in some fantastical musically charged dream. The young actor doesn’t hold back on anything here, and he really lets himself open to a broad range of emotions and experiences that chronicles the breathtaking highs, crushing lows and miraculous redemption of John’s life and career. It’s a completely sincere and brave performance and you’ll be hooked by Egerton’s flamboyance on screen in what is his personal love letter to a man he idolizes.
Joining Egerton in Rocketman are Jaime Bell as John’s best friend and lyrical composer Bernie Taupin and Richard Madden as the charismatic, yet dangerous music manager John Reid and both actors bring plenty to this fantastical film. As Taupin Bell acts the part as John’s conscience, and the guy who is constantly on his side. Taupin is the one steady person that John has in his life and together they set out to the conquer the world and discover through their shared passion a life that truly goes far beyond their dreams. Bell has great chemistry alongside Egerton, and you completely buy into the friendship and life long trust that these platonic soul mates share together.
On the other side of this is Richard Madden as the devilishly charming John Reid, a young music manager who takes an interest in John, both professionally and privately and their’s is a complicated and frenzied love affair. Madden excels at portraying this wolf in a tailored suit who uses his cunning and charisma to take John to the top, but who at the same time also uses the artist to suit his own needs. It’s a challenging part for the young actor and Madden seriously smashes it out of the park. He may be the villain, but he’s very, very good at it.
Fletcher and his cast really don’t shy away from the extremes of John’s life, and the way this grand personage is expressed on screen is a fabulous feast for your senses. Every force truly comes together here for something that is utterly fabulous to behold and the screen sparkles in every corner. With fantastic set design, costuming, make-up and hair, and a beautifully directed sense of cinematography, courtesy of the eye of George Richmond, Rocketman makes for an exquisite production. It shines with a fantastical Baroque quality and it’s rich details certainly pull you in deeper. In terms of my own favourite set piece I’d have to choose Elton’s first performances at the Troubadour in Los Angeles and the slick cool of the 1960s, as my highlight and when he slams down on the keys of his piano to ‘Crocodile Rock’ and ‘Tiny Dancer’ truly lift off.
Added to the fantastical images is the film’s marvellous soundtrack and it’s here that Egerton really shines. While audiences have long known that he was a talented songbird, the young star is allowed immense freedom of expression here as he reinterprets John’s revered collection of tunes and the results are enchanting. ‘Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting)’, ‘Tiny Dancer’, ‘Don’t Go Breaking My Heart’, ‘Pinball Wizard’ and the titular ‘Rocketman’ light up the screen and your soul, and with Egerton’s interpretative vocals you’ll be sure to be grooving in your seat.
But while the film certainly captures your senses and enchants your eyes and ears, it’s central theme of self-love and acceptance is what will really touch your heart. Rocketman is essentially the story of a man learning to love himself for who he is, and allowing himself to believe that he is worthy of this most cherished human emotion. In a world that moves so fast and where it can sometimes be difficult to stop and concentrate on yourself, it’s a heartwarming thing to see and as Egerton’s Elton comes to accept that he can be loved and that he will love in return, well, it’ll certainly bring a smile to your face and fill your heart up with a profound sense of joy.
Rocketman is a magical, marvellous and musical adventure of a truly amazing performer and life and it is packed together with astounding colour and a very important message. It’s a film that will make you feel alive and leave you burning with passion and a keen sense to get up and groove, so make sure you climb aboard this spaceship and fly off into the stratosphere with Elton.
Image: Paramount Pictures