In this biographical musical from the producer of Gnomeo and Juliet, Taron Egerton takes centre stage as the Rocketman himself, Elton John, not to be confused with Rocket Raccoon or Reginald Dwight. But will he be ready for love? Will the sun go down on him? And will we finally find out what Amoreena was doing in that corn field?
Rocketman is the film Bohemian Rhapsody could have been. A full-on musical, instead of focusing on the writing of Elton’s illustrious back catalogue it follows the events of his life and inserts his songs at narratively appropriate moments.
Egerton is fantastic, managing to be more likable than the real life Elton. And while he doesn’t have the full power of his voice he certainly sounds close enough to make it work. The story may be a mashup of musician movie clichés, but the frequent flights of fancy make it eminently enjoyable. It even features a pinball wizard sequence to rival Tommy.
The fantastical feel allows it more flexibility to play with the narrative, but this isn’t always used for good. Produced by partner of 25 years and husband of five David Furnish, it has a ‘signed off by Elton’ feel not entirely dissimilar to Dr Dre hagiography Straight Outta Compton. It’s not that it doesn’t show his darker, angrier side, or the excesses he enjoyed at the peak of his fame (it features noticeably more sex and drugs than BoRap, and a similar amount of rock and roll).
It’s that almost all the other characters are villains in some way, with the bitch even getting back at his dead parents. The exception is longtime collaborator Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell) who is presented as an equal partner in Elton’s success. The circle of his life ends with a sycophantic trumpeting of his charity work and the claim that he’s retiring to spend more time raising his children, omitting the 300 date farewell tour he’s doing first.
But these are minor gripes as it’s brilliantly directed, with impressive choreography, costumes and set pieces that can’t help but make you want to get back with this honky cat. And thanks to the fantastic performances and the power of Elton’s multi-platinum selling oeuvre this is the best music film I’ve seen in a long long time.