The great thing about rock and roll is that someone like me can be a star.
In this film review I discuss the 2019 Elton John Biopic Rocketman. The film charts the the life of British musician Elton John and is directed by Dexter Fletcher. Production is handeled by New Republic Pictures, Marv Films, Rocket Pictures, with distribution sorted out by Paramount Pictures.
The premise of Rocketman intrigues me as does its director. I was first introduced to Dexter Fletcher in 1989 through the Children’s TV show Press Gang. Fast forward 30 years, and more than 100 screen credits later, and Fletcher has transformed into an award-winning director as adept at directing as he is acting, it is no fluke that Rocketman has gone on to win 21 Awards including 1 Oscar!
Rocketman is a Biopic that provides us (the viewer) a glimpse into the transformation of a child named Reginald Dwight into the pop icon that is Elton John. The movie charts his troubled formative childhood years that show glimpses of his genius, through to teenage years and then onto young adult angst. It shines a window on key life events such as his coming out, drug, substance, and sex addiction, introduces us to the brilliant Bernie Taupin. All this is cleverly framed around Elton’s epic songs.
While the film was in pre production, it is reported that Dexter and Elton talked extensively about his upbringing and younger years. This is important because the screenplay does not hold back. This results in a nothing is off-limits, approach at storytelling – something that Elton was very keen make happen.
Too often biopics get watered down by studio politics so much, they become staid and boring. This film however, has been injected with a massive jolt of Elton’s flamboyant personality and you get the sense you are watching a very personal history unfold on screen.
Rocketman is as bombastic as it is bonkers look at. The screenplay is well handled, and the film moves at pace and suffer no middle act drag. Each scene works to further the next. The characters – sorry – the people are treated with respect and nothing is off the table at being portrayed. Even minor characters are important to the screen play and well treated,
After watching the film my first reaction was ‘How is that man still alive?’ The drug abuse on show is graphic and how it managed to sneak a 15 rating from the sensors is quite something. Still, you get the sense that what is shown on screen is only a tiny fraction of what actually went on.
Two things absolutely gel together in this film, Matthew Margeson’s fabulous score and Director Fletcher’s adept use of Elton’s songs to tell his story.
The Songs have been handpicked by Elton and Fletcher with some being reworked specifically for this film and they are an absolute treat. At times Margeson’s score blends seamlessly into song and a few other times the score hints at an Elton song and then turns into something else entirely. Is audio magic!
The songs used are not chronologically correct. They support the narrative of the story not only that, but the way they are used, highlights the raw emotion embedded into their lyrics, that otherwise just become radio fodder to sing along to.
I am happy that Rocketman is provided in ATMOS. This sound format really suits such a fabulous score, with Egerton and Elton’s vocals crystal clear and a superb LFE mix thrown in. Vocals bounce around the room as much as Egerton bounds around the screen.
The 4k presentation has been created from a 2k digital master, itself created from original 3.4k filmed footage. The resulting image looks stunning and vibrant. The 4k release is also treated to HDR10 and Dolby Vision and it is a great transfer. The videography is top notch with some excellent visuals. The stadium scene is the most stand out. I am also glad to see that they have not gone for stupid colour grading as found on some home releases.
Julian Day is the costume designer on Rocketman and oh boy hasn’t he done a sterling job. You want a Lycra suit – it is on screen, you want it in orange with flames creeping up it, fiery red feathered wings, a cap sprouting horns, heart sunglasses and glitter-strewn platforms, plus 140,000 hand-sewn crystals, it’s on screen. No matter what the character Julian Day produces costumes that simply look amazing and pop to life on screen. Some are a reimagining of Elton costumes other are creations inspired for the film. I look forward to seeing what Julian brings to his next production whatever that may be.
The movie harks back to the golden age of musicals. Those big and brash 1950’s films that had ambition and didn’t mind looking over the top. Whilst being a visual spectacle it does not stray far from its source – Elton himself.
I was aware of Elton’s songs but Rocketman has given new context around them, thanks to Egerton’s performances bringing the songs to life. The song ‘I’m Still Standing’ inter-cut with actual photos of Elton. If that doesn’t make you smile, I don’t know what will.
I gave Rocketman a ‘Must See’ Rating.
What would you give?
Words Garry Llewellyn
Age Rating 15
Release Date 16 May 2019
Director Dexter Fletcher
Taron Egerton … Elton John
Jamie Bell … Bernie Taupin
Richard Madden … John Reid
Bryce Dallas … Sheila
Gemma Jones … Ivy
Steven Mackintosh … Stanley
Tom Bennett … Fred
Matthew Illesley … Young Reggie
Kit Connor … Older Reggie
Charlie Rowe … Ray Williams
Peter O’Hanlon … Bobby (as Pete O’Hanlon)
Ross Farrelly … Cyril
Evan Walsh … Elton Dean
Tate Donovan … Doug Weston
Sharmina Harrower … Heather
Ophelia Lovibond … Arabella
Celinde Schoenmaker … Renate
Harriet Walter … Helen Piena
Stephen Graham … Dick James
Sharon D. Clarke … Counselor (as Sharon Clarke)
Aston McAuley Aston … Dave Godin
Jason Pennycooke … Wilson
Alexia Khadime … Diana
Carl Spencer … Richard
Jimmy Vee … Arthur
Leon Delroy … Clint
David Doyle … Pub Man 1
Leigh Francis … Pete
Dickon Tolson … Barman
Diana Alexandra Pocol … Mary the Receptionist (as Diana Pocol)
Eddie Mann … Band Member
Josh McClorey … New Bluesology Band Member
Rachel Muldoon … Kiki Dee
Benjamin Mason … Bryan
Guillermo Bedward … Geoff
Adam Bohling … producer (produced by) (p.g.a.)
David Furnish … producer (produced by) (p.g.a.)
Michael Gracey … executive producer
Elton John … executive producer
Karine Martin … executive producer
Italo Marzotto … executive producer
Tommaso Marzotto … executive producer
Brian Oliver … executive producer
David Reid … producer (produced by) (p.g.a.)
Claudia Schiffer … executive producer (as Claudia Vaughn)
Steve Hamilton Shaw … executive producer
Matthew Vaughn … producer (produced by) (p.g.a.)
Daniel Zamost … executive producerMusic by
Matthew Margeson … (original score by)
Cinematography by George Richmond
Film Editing by Chris Dickens
Pippa Ailion … (Dance Casting)
Jo Hawes … (Children’s Casting)
Reg Poerscout-Edgerton … (as Reginald Poerscout-Edgerton)
Production Design by Peter Francis
Art Direction by Tim Blake
Former community radio producer and presenter, and currently an office worker by day and blogger by night.
Garry is the creator and writer of The Silver Hedgehog. A Sci-Fi geek (don’t mention Terry Pratchett or Isaac Asimov unless you have a spare hour) and avid lover of all things film and TV fan . Garry enjoys writing reviews, blogs, chatting to people and now hosts a podcast in his spare time.
He is now waiting for the day he gets paid for it!