Fleabag’s review published on Letterboxd:
After the insurmountable success of music based films in 2018 it shouldn't surprise anyone that we'll probably get more of them for years to come. In 2018 there was the Oscar winning box office smash that spawned a billboard hot 100 #1 single - A Star Is Born. The ritualistic and sinister dance film graced with music by Thom Yorke - Suspiria. The cataclysmic power pop extravaganza that followed a troubled pop star on her descent to madness that built a cult like following and featured music from pop music icon Sia - Vox Lux. And most of all the ridiculously successful, infamous, and Oscar winning Bohemian Rhapsody. With these films pulling in high praises from audiences and critics alike, it's only inevitable that more of these films will start to appear (a David Bowie or Prince biopic is inevitable at this point). So in that same vein as Bohemian Rhapsody we now have a film about another musical legend that forever changed music; Sir Elton John. It's hard not to watch this biopic about Elton John without immediately thinking about Bohemian Rhapsody especially because the director of this film actually directed a small percentage of Bohemian Rhapsody, and with that in mind the comparisons between the two films is prone to happen. So how exactly does Rocketman fair against Bohemian Rhapsody? I wasn't particularly one of those people who believed that Bohemian was a movie that was pure crap, it has a few good qualities. But for me Bryan Singer's direction killed what could've been a pretty decent movie, and Rocketman is somehow further proof of that.
Dexter Fletcher's musical biopic is a riotous vision of glamour, brilliance, and pop. The film is eye popping, beautifully orchestrated as though a master is at work, and synced to the finest tune. From the editing and framing of each of these breathtaking shots to the sound design and sound mixing, Rocketman is a clear winner thanks to its artist. It's also extremely clear that Elton John himself had quite a bit of say in this film as opposed to someone else telling his life story. The insertion of Elton John's personal account on all of these events makes for a film that feels self reflective, honest, and real. The film never shies away from Elton's queernees or really anything of that nature, we get an actual look at the man behind the legend and it feels introspective to witness. You really get the sense that this movie isn't made as a cash grab for a group of men familiar with the subject, instead you get the feel that this is an actual stylishly crafted inquiry into a man who rose to stardom.
Like any biopic or reimagining of an iconic character for the big screen the biggest task always seems to be finding the proper person to play the subject. A person can look the part but that doesn't mean they posses the talent to actually play the part e.g. Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman. But Taron Egerton doesn't just sell himself as a convincing Elton John, he truly goes through a complete metamorphosis and becomes Elton John. He sings like him, he acts like him, he looks like him to the point that his performance is less of a caricature or even a performance itself and more along the lines of honoring a legend. Taron Egerton is an actor I've always loved with no actual reason to. I love him in Kingsman and really haven't seen him in much else so I never exactly knew how talented he really is, but after you walk out of this movie you will believe he can do practically anything. Taron Egerton is so mesmerizing as Elton John that at particular moments I was on the verge of tears simply because I was so moved by how marvelous his work in this film is. He may not be A+ every second of the movie but he's giving it his all and you can truly understand how much this role meant to him because he's pouring his soul into this performance, and that to me is more convincing work as an actor than practically anything. The accompanying cast is pretty great too and add to many of the scenes of the film. The musical numbers are absolutely jaw dropping and I can't really think of any other way of describing them. With Egerton's flamboyance and heart paired with Fletcher's devoted craft to his directing it makes for scenes that are so well choreographed and crafted that they feel like cinematic magic.
Rocketman is a dazzling triumph of extraordinary proportions for so many different reasons that it's hard to pinpoint what the film's strongest attribute is. But it is certainly easy to find its weakest points. The script could have been better and pacing is a bit iffy at times. But aside from those the overall film is breathtaking and simply beautiful. To me Rocketman sort of felt like if La La Land met Walk The Line and had a baby except make it gay and cover everything in glitter and sequins. Grandiose and completely glammed out, Rocketman is a magnificent film in so many ways just like the icon the film seeks to explore.