9/10 It is interesting just how many parallels there are between this film and last November’s “Bohemian Rhapsody”. After director Bryan Singer was fired from “Bohemian Rhapsody”, director Dexter Fletcher was called in to finish directing what was left of the film. Fletcher now directs this film. Both films have gay singers from the same time period going through some similar struggles. Both films have a “Game of Thones” actor in a supporting role. Both films aren’t afraid to put the music front and center. Despite all the similarities, there are some key differences that set the two films apart. “Bohemian Rhapsody” is a straightforward biopic, PG-13 and Rami Malek doesn’t do his own singing. “Rocketman” is part biopic, part musical and part fantasy/magic. It is more raw and realistic, earning its R rating and Taron Egerton does all of his own singing. As far as the rating, a PG-13 makes more financial sense and it definitely paid off for “Bohemian Rhapsody” which was extremely profitable. “Rocketman” is profitable but not the box office juggernaut that “Bohemian Rhapsody” was due to the constraints of its R rating. However, despite not making as much money due to the rating, the R rating allows the film to be more honest and Elton John himself has said he didn’t live a PG-13 life, he lived an R rated life, so I find this rating to be appropriate. Having Egerton sing doesn’t necessarily mean his performance is better than Malek’s performance, but it shows Egerton is more multi-talented as a performer. Having the performer lip sync or sing themselves doesn’t matter either way to me and it is kind of cool to see both methods used months apart, both to great success. However, it is the mix of film genres that elevates this film over other musical biopics. “Bohemian Rhapsody”, “Walk the Line”, “Ray”, etc. are all straightforward retellings of a performer’s life or parts of their life. Since “Rocketman” mixes the musical and fantasy genres into the mix, it makes the film more entertaining and slightly less cliché than the other films mentioned. I haven’t seen “Across the Universe” but I would imagine it is like that film with an ever so small sprinkle of “La La Land” on top of it. Just as the music of Queen is iconic and celebrated, Elton John also has an extremely impressive and influential library of music which makes this soundtrack and the musical portions of the film a blast to listen to and watch. Edgerton gives the best performance of his career (ironically, he sang Elton John’s “I’m Still Standing” in 2016’s animated film “Sing” and gets to sing it again here) and he definitely deserves an Academy Award nomination for this performance. The rest of the cast is great but this is Egerton’s film and he owns this role. The only minor complaints are that like most musical biopics, there are some clichés of the genre that we have seen before and the film progresses in time but they never put what year we are in on the screen so we don’t know how far we are jumping ahead and it would have been nice to have known when these events were happening in his life. That being said, the solid running time, great editing, flawless production and costume design, confident direction, Oscar worthy acting, amazing music, educational aspect (I am a huge Elton fan yet still learned things about his life I had no idea about) and expert mixing of genres makes “Rocketman” the best film of 2019 so far. The must see film of the summer.
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