Two-and-a-half weeks after its UK release I have finally watched Rocketman – the biopic about musician, Elton John. It’s taken me so long to get to this one because I’ve been busy watching Aladdin, Ma, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, and X-Men: Dark Phoenix.
Anyway, directed by Dexter Fletcher, Rocketman tells the story of Elton’s rise to stardom – from school boy to music superstar. The film stars Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Bryce Dallas Howard and Richard Madden, and covers Elton’s addictions, his rocky relationships, and his lifelong friendship with lyricist, Bernie Taupin.
So, was it worth waiting two-and-a-half weeks to watch Rocketman?
Well, I found the movie watchable, but I certainly don’t feel like I have missed out by not watching it earlier.
Rocketman isn’t a bad film, however, if I had to describe it – and I guess that’s what I’m about to do here – I’d say it was ‘alright – nothing special’. It tells a story, it ticks off numerous Elton songs, and it’s entertaining enough, but it’s just not that interesting.
Anyone with a basic knowledge of Elton’s career will know exactly where the story is going, which means it is down to the actors and the set pieces to keep things ticking along and that’s where this movie falls down. While there are a few imaginative ideas in the movie, including some neat visual flairs, there are very few stand out scenes.
I kept urging this movie to go bigger and it never did – which was really bizarre, as there were times when this film was as camp as Christmas, akin to Mamma Mia!. Every time it seemed to hit that groove it would pull back and go a little more serious, perhaps in an attempt to hit the same stride as Bohemian Rhapsody.
And I make the comparison to Bohemian Rhapsody because both films are biopics about British musicians, both cover a similar time period, and both feature the involvement of Dexter Fletcher. Fletcher directed Rocketman in full, and partially directed Bohemian Rhapsody.
Unfortunately, Fletcher aside, Rocketman is missing something that Bohemian Rhapsody had – an outstanding lead performance. Rami Maleck stole the show as Freddie Mercury in Bohemian Rhapsody, yet the same can’t be said of Egerton in Rocketman.
At no point during the course of Rocketman did I believe I was watching Elton John. For the majority of the two hour running time, I felt as if I was watching Taron Egerton doing an impression of the singer and nothing more.
Without a strong performance upfront, Rocketman never quite hits the right note and it is a shame. Egerton isn’t bad, but again like the film itself, I simply feel like he is ‘alright – nothing special’.
He wasn’t my only casting issue, I also wasn’t sold on Bryce Dallas Howard who plays the role of Elton’s mother. I’m not quite sure what film she thought she was in, but it is a completely different one to everyone else.
Perhaps she was trying to channel the camp aesthetic that the movie occasionally dipped into? Who knows.
Looking past these issues, on the plus side, Rocketman is loaded with songs, including most of the iconic tunes (Goodbye Yellowbrick Road, I’m Still Standing etc) and has a great turn from Jamie Bell as Bernie Taupin. Bell brings a real honesty to the role and his character becomes the heart of the movie.
Given the opportunity to tinker with the film, I would have liked to have had more scenes between Egerton and Bell and perhaps a little less of everything else. Or simply more from Bell.
But I can’t tinker with the movie. Rocketman is what it is.
So yeah, in short, Rocketman is fine to watch but I doubt I will be revisiting this film at any point in the future. Those who are after the next Bohemian Rhapsody will not find it, but they may enjoy what’s on offer if they have a desire to revisit Elton’s back catalogue.