Sitting through Rocketman is like taking a drug-fuelled trip through Elton John’s haziest and most wildly manic childhood dreams.
The new biographical musical film is based on the early life of musician Elton John and draws a raucous yet deeply depressing line from his early childhood days as piano prodigy Reggie Dwight to his rapid rise to superstardom as ‘Elton’ before taking a deep dive into his painful years of loneliness and addiction.
Rather than framing it as a more linear and historically tinged story, as so many biographies that play out on the big screen do, Rocketman instead explodes across the screen as a more of a string of stylised musical fantasy sequences, haphazardly woven together with a touch of drama and some show-stopping tunes.
Rocketman is a movie that chooses not to bother itself with anything as fussy as background details, audience-friendly timelines or anything that dares to skate too close to reality.
But boy, is it still one hell of an entertaining and emotional viewing experience.
Of course, it’s already been closely compared to 2018’s box office smash-hit, the Oscar-winning Bohemian Rhapsody. In some senses, the two films are very similar in that they both pay tribute to musical legends while showcasing their struggles with success, loneliness and sexual identity. But if you walk into Rocketman expecting it to play out in the same way that Bohemian Rhapsody did then you’ll just leave the cinema disappointed.
Rocketman’s feverish and rapidly paced scenes play out more like a stage musical on steroids; supporting characters can burst into song at any given moment and there’s an extended musical number featuring a small child playing a toy piano at the bottom of a pool while wearing an oxygen mask. So don’t try to compare it, just go with it.
Take a look at the trailer for Rocketman below. Post continues after video.
One of the strongest elements of Rocketman is the casting of Taron Egerton as Elton John, who took his transformation into the musical legend to intense and personal method acting heights. In the film he is both equally raw, broken and still as he is exuberant and practically manic.
During the Australian premiere of Rocketman, Egerton told the crowd that he had asked director Dexter Fletcher if he could sing live in as many scenes of the movie as possible in order to fully inhabit the character of Elton John, and that his performance of ‘Your Song’ was his favourite moment from making the movie.