Recommendation: 4/5 Stars, SHOWTIME
Plot: “A musical fantasy about the fantastical human story of Elton John’s breakthrough years.” -IMDB
Review: The music biopic is a deep well. Every time someone drops a bucket down the hole, I get a little nervous about what they will bring to the surface. When the trailer for “Rocketman” was released, I felt those same nerves tingle with fear. As I watched this film from beginning to end, I realized this is the movie “Bohemian Rhapsody” should have been. “Rocketman” was a fun, imaginative, endearing, and a creative look at the early years of Elton John through his rise to fame and beyond. Without a doubt, if writers are going to continue drafting scripts about famous musicians, this is a film they should keep in mind.
From an early age, Elton John was meant to create something eternal through his art. Via his ascent and rise to fame, he became a transformational figure destined for greatness. Of course, like most forms of art, there must be a genesis; a moment in time serving as a motivator for all future accomplishments. For Elton John, this spark was about seeking the love of his mother and father; both of whom couldn’t have cared less. Elton could have let this pain turn into a deep depression that would have haunted him for the rest of his life. Instead, he chose to channel it through his love of music and the world is better for it.
From those childhood moments through his rise to fame, this film could have chosen to deliver a traditional story of sex, love, and rock music. We’ve all seen that movie before. This film chose a different route. It treats the life of Elton as a play and a trip to AA as the catalyst for the whole endeavor. This choice makes the film much more engrossing. As he continues to search for the love of his father, we watch a star at the height of his craft give into addiction, alcoholism, and fame. Jumping back and forth from AA to the story, we are allowed to see the impact of those choices. We are also invited to see what life was like for a gay man in the 1970’s.
Of course, the fame monster claims all who tempt him. This wouldn’t be a biopic without a fall. Instead of saving this moment toward the end of the film, we are made aware of its presence at the very beginning. As a religious filmgoer, I love this choice. It was refreshing and appreciated; much like this film. As the credits rolled, I was smiling from ear to ear and I was also left with a sense of sadness. This is the story Freddie Mercury deserved. Too bad some writers are incapable of painting outside the lines.
Be good to each other,
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