7.5/10 After almost a decade away from feature film making (nine years to be exact), writer/director Baz Luhrmann (“Moulin Rouge!”, “The Great Gatsby”) returns with all of the energy and pizzazz for which he is known. While not perfect, “Elvis” is a well made, expertly acted film that flies by despite its two and a half hour run time. Before we get into why this film ultimately succeeds, let’s get the negatives out of the way first. The vast majority of musical biopics do follow a pretty tired and true formula with humble beginnings, the initial shock of success and career highs, followed by infidelity, drug addiction, low points and finally…death. This biopic covers the same familiar ground that films like “Rocketman” and “Bohemian Rhapsody” have covered so we don’t get anything ground breaking. Several details about Elvis’ life in the film are made up or slightly changed. Things like the firing of Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks) on stage, the main reason why Priscilla (Olivia DeJonge) left her husband, the relationship between Elvis and B.B. King, etc. are all slightly deviated from reality. While the film in no way claims to be a 100% factual retelling, the film could have been slightly more truthful and remained just as effective. A minor nitpick is that Luhrmann includes some modern hip hop/rap songs, which he also tried in “The Great Gatsby” and both times it fails as it is out of place and more of a distraction. Finally, while most of the film looks gorgeous, there are definitely shots (mainly background shots) that are clearly CGI and not real locations, which give the film a green screen feel to it which feels fake. Those flaws aside, Luhrmann is able to get a lot of the film right. Before we get into all the strengths, the biggest round of applause has to go to Austin Butler as Elvis Presley, who is a revelation. While Butler has had small roles in other great films (“Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood”) and horrible films (“The Dead Don’t Die”, “Yoga Hosers”), this is his first starring role with him front and center and he absolutely nails it. Since it is only August at the time of writing this review and things will certainly change in the final months of the year due to Oscar season, Butler so far gives the best acting performance of 2022 thus far between men and women and he will surely be nominated for Best Actor for his phenomenal work here. The acting across the board is fantastic but this is Butler’s film through and through. While Hanks puts in great work, I couldn’t help but think of Goldmember from “Austin Powers in Goldmember” every time he spoke with his accent. The production and costume designs are perfect as Luhrmann and his crew expertly recreate time periods from the 1950s through the late 1970s. Everything onscreen from the clothing to the cars to the neighborhoods and everything in between are authentic for the era being portrayed and it looks phenomenal. Sometimes quick cut editing can be horrendous, particularly in action films but Luhrmann’s style of quick cut editing works here and gives the film a high energy feel that helps make the long run time go by quickly. The music of Elvis is appropriately highlighted without shoving in too many songs and becoming distracting. Overall, it is great to have Luhrmann back and working in a genre which he is comfortable with. Besides a Best Actor nomination for Butler, I wouldn’t be surprised to see some below the line Oscar nominations for production design, costume design, hair & make-up, etc. Check out “Elvis” if you are a fan of his music/life or want to see one of the best performances of 2022.

#DontPresleyYourLuck / #TheGreatPresley / #SavingColonelParker / #BlueSuedeShoesOfTheWorld / #KingOfThePill / #ThePowerOfTheHoundDog

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