Elvis Movie Review: Musical biopics recently have gotten a bit too similar for me. The plot structure for many films remains the same as the lives of classical pop-stars end up getting adapted, but they still manage to make up for an enjoyable watch. Bohemian Rhapsody for all its weird quirks, still managed to wow you with Rami Malek’s Freddie Mercury while Taron Egerton knocked it out of the park with Elton John in Rocketman. But still, going into Elvis, I wanted something different and more, and oh boy, did they deliver on the “more”. Elvis: Austin Butler Does a Perfect Recreation of Elvis Presley Performing ‘Jailhouse Rock’ in This New Clip (Watch Video).
Directed by Baz Luhrmann, Elvis is a musical biopic that chronicles the life of the King of Rock, Elvis Presley. The film follows Elvis (Austin Butler) and details his life from the moment he got signed by Col Tom Parker (Tom Hanks) to the moment he dies. It’s a detailed look into the complicated relationship that these two men had. It also sees the fall and rise of Elvis and him trying to be a movie star as well.
Baz Luhrmann definitely makes a lot of choices with the direction of this film. While the script can be honky, Luhrmann still takes it up and creates for an idiosyncratic view into the life of this legend. From the opening moments as we see Col Tom Parker give a narration, the movie is almost held like a fever dream as transitions galore take place and from scene to scene we go with some very neat visuals. There is one particular scene that details the early life of Elvis in a comic book format, and that’s something Baz Luhrmann’s eccentric view could have framed.
So much of the movie is presented like a pop-music video, that it definitely could get overwhelming at times, but it made for the quickest 160 minutes of my life. Never have I ever seen a film this long feel like a flash (in a good way). There is no dull moment in Elvis as the camera is moving constantly. I recall only a few scenes at the end of the film where the camera was at a constant, but otherwise it’s constantly moving as some very impressive angles are being achieved over here.
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Austin Butler’s physicality helps here too as it makes the movie look exceptionally bold. Butler, for what’s worth, is a contender for an Oscar here. The man IS Elvis. Not only from his voice, but to the way he moves and presents himself through the stages of Elvis’ career, he embodies this role and becomes the King of Rock and Roll. Not only that, but Butler lends his vocals to some of Elvis’ songs, and his voice is almost indistinguishable from the real deal. As Elvis is about to give his first performance in the film, the moment he thrusts his hips and lets off his voice to sing "Hayride", we don't only see the birth of a musician, but the birth of a movie star as well. Austin Butler is Elvis Presley.
Tom Hanks also goes above and beyond as Col Tom Parker, the money hungry manager of Elvis. Parker is quite the gambling addict and so much of the film revolves around how this man came into such power and his financial abuse of Elvis. Hanks takes that villainy and hams it up as he comes to Luhrmann with a huge piece of ham and asks him how huge he wants the slices to be. There were times where it was almost unrecognizable if this was Hanks in the role as he lets go of the nice-guy persona.
Most of the cast in the film also does a great job in the portrayal of their real-life counterparts. The Presley family that’s rounded off with Helen Thomson as Gladys Presley and Richard Roxburgh as Vernon Presley, the movie and the actors do a great job at portraying these characters. Olivia DeJonge as Priscilla Presley, for the little while she is there in the movie, also does a good job at portraying the wife of Elvis Presley, and in many ways helps ground his character too by the end of the movie.
And that’s one of the issues of the movie. So much of it is focused behind showcasing Elvis the God that Elvis the Man ends up getting not touched on until the third act of the movie. Elvis wants to be a spectacle at each and every second that the more intimate moments are either lost, or presented in the most over-the-top manner imaginable. By the time we get to the eventual end of his career that’s ridden with him being an alcoholic and losing Priscilla, it’s just too little and too late.
“When was the last time we had dinner as a family?” Yells Priscilla in the third act to Elvis. That moment would have been more impactful if we had seen Elvis be a family man in some of the scenes.
However, the film does focus on various important time periods in American history like the death of Martin Luther King Jr and JFK, and how Elvis reacts to those showcase his mindset with every era. That was something quite neatly done. The film picks up in the ‘40s and ‘50s too, and those eras were perhaps the most fleshed out with how they were presented. With a tinge of racism to showcase the backwards thinking of American executives to the lush backgrounds of Memphis, the production design and world building was top notch. The Black Phone Movie Review: Ethan Hawke and Mason Thames' Horror Film Is A Heart-Pounding Experience With A Supernatural Twist! (LatestLY Exclusive).
The collections of songs here are very well done too as Elvis’ most influential pieces like “Hound Dog” and ”Can’t Help Falling in Love” are used to some great effect in the movie. But there are some very weird decisions made here too. It’s understandable when different songs from the same eras are used, but the addition of modern pop-artists featuring the likes of Tame Impala and Eminem felt very out of place. Instead of these issues though, Elvis still managed to put on one hell of a show.
Austin Butler as Elvis
Baz Luhrmann’s Direction
Script Can Be Weak at Times
Out of Place Music Choices
Elvis is a biopic like no other. Fueled by the very bold decisions of Baz Luhrmann and elevated by Austin Butler’s larger-than-life portrayal of the King of Rock, this is a movie that turns it up to an 11 and never stops. While the epicness of it can get overwhelming at times and come at a sacrifice of some emotional beats, Elvis still manages to deliver a great time at the theatres.
(The above story first appeared on LatestLY on Jun 23, 2022 01:05 PM IST. For more news and updates on politics, world, sports, entertainment and lifestyle, log on to our website latestly.com).