If you think that Freddie Mercury was robbed of the biopic he deserved with Bohemian Rhapsody, Rocketman will make you curse the conventional trappings of the Mercury biopic.
The two movies may share a villain, the music executive John Reid, and a director to a certain extent, but the similarities between the two end there.
Rocketmen is a over-the-top and colorful as its main subject, Elton John, and is played with equal parts of charm and grit by Taron Egerton.
The movie subverts our expectations from its opening scene, eschewing the obvious for the whimsical. And even though Elton sharing his life story in a group feels a bit clunky, the rest of the movie more than makes up for it.
Egerton carries the movie with energy that grounds the figure he’s portraying, and his singing voice is exceptional. He managed to echo Elton John without trying too hard to match it, and what’s most impressive about his performance is that it never feels like an impersonation.
Yes, Bohemian Rhapsody heavily relied on reproducing moments we’ve all come to know well, Rocketmen is much more concerned with conveying the essence of the man and his music.
Yes, the flashbacks do unfold somewhat linearly, but they are used as a way to understand where Elton John’s music comes from, rather than just being biographical plot points. And, refreshingly enough, the songs don’t show up in chronological order.
Rocketman is essentially a story of a boy struggling with a devastating sense of abandonment and loneliness, and the only person that sees the potential in young Reggie is his grandmother, Ivy. She’s the one that helps him get a scholarship at the Royal Academy of Music, and she’s the one that tells him to make something of himself.
The movie is, all in all, very fun, and it proves that a musical biopic certainly CAN be a powerful force, if it’s done right!