Movie Review: ‘Rocketman’ Breathes Fantastical New Life Into Rock Star Biopics

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CREDIT: Paramount Pictures

Starring: Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Bryce Dallas Howard, Richard Madden

Director: Dexter Fletcher

Running Time: 121 Minutes

Rating: R for Fabulous Rock Star Indulgences

Release Date: May 31, 2019

Have you ever felt so exhilarated by a movie that you thought, “I never knew it was possible to get this high?” Presumably you have, as you care enough about cinema to read reviews by film buffs who are just as passionate as you are.  But you also, like me, might be worried that you will never experience this feeling again. When it comes, it’s often inspired by a really rousing song-and-dance number, and it seems like those are in short supply these days. Too many music biopics are satisfied with just touching on the nuts and bolts of rock stardom. But I don’t think that’s because they don’t want to capture the spirit of their subjects. It requires a tricky sort of alchemy to make a music movie that really sings, but somehow through the magic combination of Elton John’s discography, Taron Egerton’s cheeky and gleeful and tormented performance, and Dexter Fletcher’s go-for-broke direction, Rocketman has found the right formula.

It helps a great deal that it’s an actual musical. Biopics are often categorized by awards groups as musicals, but that’s often a misnomer, because the performance scenes are generally just that: performances. But in Rocketman, they are instead excuses for flights of fancy. As Egerton adroitly digs into the former Reginald Dwight’s oeuvre, he is buoyed along by sudden losses of gravity, stages that turn into whirlwinds, impromptu interpretive dances, and a general sense that anything could happen. This film is also a tale of triumphing over addiction, as it is framed around a group therapy session in which John recounts how he got to this crazy point in his life. You get the sense that while living alongside parents who never quite understood him, a manager who took advantage of him, and at least one loyal friend and partner who stuck beside him for decades, a corresponding world of chaos and ebullience was constantly bouncing around in his head. Rocketman has captured that part of his psyche marvelously, and it is now a decadent treat for the whole world to feast upon.

Rocketman is Recommended If You Like: The Elton John Songbook, All That Jazz

Grade: 4 out of 5 Feathered Outfits

This Is a Movie Review: Kingsman: The Golden Circle

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CREDIT: Giles Keyte/Twentieth Century Fox

The Golden Circle is just as exciting as the first Kingsman, and it features a hell of a villainous turn from Julianne Moore. Its attitude is a bit arch, and it often pretends that it isn’t, but that isn’t a huge deal when the action is assembled impressively and the humor does let loose often enough. But ultimately while these flicks are fun, I find it hard to embrace them fully. There is just something weirdly insidious about their politics (or something like politics). It may not even be intentional, but intentional or not, it does unnerve me. I could have forgiven all that if Channing had danced more. Why didn’t Channing dance more?

I give Kingsman: The Golden Circle 2 Cannibal Burgers out of 3 Butterfly Effects.