‘Rocketman’ is raw, uncensored and imaginative


Courtesy of IMDb

Rachel Basela, Staff Intern

Through the years, musical artists of various genres have presented moviegoers and music fanatics alike with countless documentaries surrounding their experiences in the industry and their rise to fame. However, “Rocketman,” a film based on the life of Elton John, was a dramatic interpretation of the star’s upbringing and his time in the limelight. This movie followed the lead of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” a film about Queen, and “A Star Is Born,” a film starring Lady Gaga, this year with the newest wave of musicals setting the tone for both the music and film industry moving forward.

This biopic stars Taron Egerton as Elton John, with Richard Madden, Jamie Bell and Max Croes in supporting roles. These actors have the energy of a wildfire throughout the film. Egerton’s spunk encompasses Elton John to a point of confusion. I found myself wondering if Egerton was the voice of the movie, or if the track was pulled from old Elton records. Egerton was able to capture the innocence of the early days in London, to the uncensored time in the limelight in America, and he did this all while putting on a performance comparable to those of the man he portrayed, with a voice just as bold.

“Rocketman,” in simple terms, was unsurprisingly shocking. The storyline is based on the lifestyle of Elton John and features prominent flashback scenes comparable to those of “Forrest Gump,” which truly have viewers in awe of both the performances and the plot. The greatest hits of the singer are strategically placed throughout every plot point and highlight the lyrical values of each song in comparison to each prominent experience in his journey as a musician. Unsurprisingly, “Rocketman” is on the Elton John level of over-the-top, and shockingly, Elton displays raw and upfront moments of his gilded life that many fans may not have predicted.

One of the most memorable is when “Crocodile Rock” is introduced. As Elton makes his debut in Los Angeles, the visuals are just as stunning as the acting and the music. The audience floats a foot off the ground as they sing along “laa, lalalalalaa” in what seems to be a distorted reality, and Elton (Egerton) plays the piano flawlessly as his body is suspended horizontally in the air as if he were in a dream. This scene truly captures the feeling of surreality and adrenaline that Elton John must have felt during his first public performance.

The focal point of the film is set in a substance-abuse rehabilitation group where the star shares his story. It starts with his first time playing a piano as a child, to his teen years where his discovery of records molded his idea of music, to his debut with a recording label, to his life as one of the most well-known stars in the world. Not only does the story follow his upbringing, it provides the audience with overlaying renditions of Elton’s greatest hits at focal points in his life.

Overall, “Rocketman” could’ve gone one of two ways: a wholesome rendition of the “Tiny Dancer” singer’s life, or the gritty, uncensored, flamboyant journey of Elton John and his supposed companions. Of course, Elton would pick the latter. As someone who grew up with the voice of Elton John flowing through my house on Sunday afternoons, I was almost expecting the first option. If listeners like myself never took the time to delve into the meaning of the quirky lyrics within “Benny and the Jets,” “Crocodile Rock” or, of course, “Rocket Man,” one might assume that the tale would be told in a much lighter fashion. “Rocketman” truly changed my perspective of the singer, as I felt I was watching the unfolding of a personal diary on screen.

Go into the theater with as many expectations as you please, because the raw plot, the extravagant cinematic elements, and the emotive music will exceed even the highest of hopes. Elton John’s journey through rock and roll is as compelling as it gets, and it’ll be hard to be disappointed with a film such as this, as it’s a true representation of Elton’s uncensored life.

Rating: 5/5 stars