It’s the last week of June and I probably should share at least one of the great movies I saw this month. We’re looking at Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis biopic so prepare for it to be weird, and to be as heavily stylised as it is dramatic.
I believe the Elton John biopic Rocketman was the last one I reviewed and I remember that movie taking a fantastical approach to his life with there being a lot of coked up dream sequences and flashy musical numbers. Then we get to Elvis which also has that, but Baz injected his movie with steroids. I should note I have only seen one Baz Luhrmann film previously, Romeo + Juliet. Shakespearean dialogue set in modern times, which is why I sort of hate and love that film. I might get around to checking out Moulin Rouge as I hear this new Elvis movie is being compared to that. Putting the spotlight on Elvis, I think I am pretty well versed in his music as I’ve been hearing it all my life, but my history on the man was non existent until I saw this. It gave me a good summary on Elvis’ wild life and if you want more than that you won’t find it here. If you’re also one to pick on a film’s historical accuracy, Elvis certainly has a variety of far fetched reality bending moments to choose from, but I would still let this slide because it’s a Baz Luhrmann movie and this is what I signed up for when I bought my movie ticket.
Elvis, interestingly enough, puts all it’s focus on his relationship with his manager, Colonel Parker. The Colonel narrates the story from his death bed, explaining how he totally didn’t milk Elvis until he died. He finds Elvis as a rising young talent and sees his opportunity to monopolise off the man, while Elvis himself wants to explore other avenues that would make the best use of his talent and new stardom. That’s the entire conflict in a nutshell. The film also explores Elvis’ musical roots through black jazz and gospel music and how he even incorporated their dances into making 1950s white women have awakenings previously unheard of. Luhrmann presents this information through frantic editing and sound design that entrances you into the lightning in the bottle that was Elvis Presley. The other magic ingredient to Baz’s vision is Austin Butler’s flawless portrayal of Elvis. Butler’s might be my favourite performance of the year so far as the mannerisms and singing are unreal.
I never found a dull moment in Elvis, got into the groove pretty much instantly and was enthralled by the story for the entire time. Luhrmann is great at taking you on a journey where you will embrace the film’s weirdness that is both emotional and exhilarating. For the most part it was a fun movie, until the last act where it’s just miserable and sad. A solid downer ending that should make someone cry, not me though because I died a long time ago. I would be interested to hear the soundtrack for this movie as for sure there are Elvis songs, but there is loads of other music that you wouldn’t expect to hear in a Elvis biopic. Not that I’m complaining, I just wanted to note it.
Right, while I really did enjoy Elvis we’re going to talk about the Colonel, the only major part of the movie that kind of grinded on my overall enjoyment. I think the relationship between him and Elvis is great, but I’m mixed on the character. The movie does a good job at making his perspective and how he sees the talent in Elvis, but for most of the movie he comes off a moustache twirling greedy scumbag and my problem is I’m not sure if that is intentional or not. It probably is as the earlier scenes in the movie when the Colonel first discovers Elvis he is lurking around the corner or in the shadows with his southern getup and cigar in mouth. He is clearly the devil on Elvis’ shoulder and the only likable thing about him is that Tom Hanks is playing this character, which is strange to behold. I’m also mixed on his performance as I swear his southern accent changes throughout the film, but I do enjoy him in the role.
Overall I really liked Elvis. Great solid movie, not much to complain about here and I look forward to revisiting it. Go and see it in cinemas before the crowds die out. If Elvis somehow doesn’t appeal to you, then watch Top Gun: Maverick since that is also a great movie that is still out in cinemas and has just recently joined the billion dollar club. We’re halfway done with 2022 and I’m looking forward to what the rest of the year has to offer. Thank you very much for making it to end of this review and I have been The Blog Complainer, signing out.