by Dan Skip Allen
When I first heard that there was going to be a movie based on Elton John, I was excited. I grew up listening to his music. My family and I would go on car rides and the 70’s station was one of my favorites. Daniel, of course, was my favorite, being my namesake. Hits such as Tiny Dancer, Bennie and the Jets, Candle in the Wind and Rocketman blared on the radio. The family would sing them together wherever we rode throughout New England. Even in the 80’s we had great hits like I’m Still Standing to sing along to. The only thing I was apprehensive about was the unpredictability of the biopics that we’ve witnessed recently.
Rocketman has a lot to live up to. Just last year we had Bohemian Rhapsody starring Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury. Dexter Fletcher joined the movie in the last 2 weeks to complete it. He’s following that with directingRocketman, so we know he has the chops to take on a musical biopic. He also worked with Taron Egerton on Eddie the Eagle, so he knows the star quality that he possesses. All the pieces were in place to make this an epic film.
Musical biopics tend to go two routes. They either go the straight forward origin story or the musical route. Rocketman is a seamless mixture of both. How Reggie Dwight, otherwise known as Elton John, came to be the superstar, singer-songwriter that we know today. The film also deals with the relationships of his family, managers and life-long friend and collaborator, Bernie Taupin, portrayed by Jamie Bell. Intermingling musical numbers to tell key moments is his life were the key to moving the narrative of this movie forward. Like most musical biopics, this film shows the low points in Elton John’s life. Fletcher really captured the darkness of some of Elton’s worst moments.
Taron Egerton got his big break as Eggsy, a kid who learns how to be a secret agent, in Kingsman: The Secret Circle. He later worked with Dexter Fletcher in the aforementioned Eddie the Eagle, about a kid who wants to be an Olympic ski jumper, and then he voiced his first animated character. A gorilla named Johnny, who joins a singing competition, in Illumination Media’s Sing. All of these roles prepared him for portraying Elton John. They were everything he needed to give the performance of a lifetime in my humble opinion. Rami Malek wins an Academy Award for portraying Freddie Mercury and he had another performer singing the harder Queen pieces. Taron Egerton sang every song and delivered every line of dialogue superbly. He should be nominated for an Academy Award and if there is justice, he should win. The Academy doesn’t like to copy themselves though, based on Gary Oldman winning in 2018 for portraying Winston Churchill and Christian Bale not winning for portraying Dick Cheney. This doesn’t bode well for young Egerton. This is the best performance of the year. There surely won’t be many that can stand up to this one the rest of the year.
Rocketman was a breath of fresh air in a summer of blockbusters, animated films and rom coms. This film had opened up emotions I never thought I had towards Elton. The LGBT community should be happy how Elton John was represented. For all those who grew up with his music, you’ll be singing along with his music, just like I was. For those who wanted a great biopic, you’ll get it. It’s easily in my top 5 musical biopics of all time. Dexter Fletcher really captured what it was to be Elton John and what he experienced in his life. This is the best film I’ve seen this year. Even better than Avengers: Endgame. They got it right and I couldn’t be happier.
Dan Skip Allen
5 out of 5 stars