Elvis – Movie Reviews by Ry!

Elvis – King of Graceland: The Man, The Myth, The Legend

Telling the tale of one’s life, it a trail of wonder.  From humble beginnings to crazy consequences, seeing how one became can be a great foundation for a story.  When it comes to film, telling this can be tricky, but it can become a riveting journey for a creative soul.  In this review, I look at the latest musical biopic.  A journey of spectacle and reflection, even with typical genre elements, Elvis provides a view of all the trials of being … The King of Rock-n-Roll. 

The story follows the journey of Elvis Presley (Austin Butler).  From his Mississippi roots to the final Las Vegas performance, you follow an unknown that becomes a music icon.  Any film that tells the tale of a musician, it follows a general outline.  There is the childhood introduction, early career growing pains, catalyst to stardom and fall from grace (with possible redemption).  This film goes beat-by-beat along what is expected, showcasing the important moments of Elvis’s childhood and career.  For all the commonplace of detail, there are two distinct things that keep you engaged through this journey.  The first is the creative choices in direction.  Baz Luhrmann (director) engages with a rhythmic flow that blends Elvis’s musical prowess with his own visual motifs.  His unique stylization captures the essence of the music while engaging through characterization.  You get to see real moments standout through colorful visuals quips and musical pizzazz, making you feel the liveliness of the performance.  The swooping camera effects, in-direct lighting and emotional (sometimes corny) one-liners help strike above the generalities of the genre.  Even when things get a little too bombastic, there is this even keel of realism that shines through in the important moments.

Beyond the stylistic choices of direction, the second thing that keeps you engaged are the performances of the two main characters: Austin Butler as Elvis and Tom Hanks as Colonel Parker.  These two actors add a gravitas to the roles, lifting the caricatures above the material at hand.  Through their scenes together, there is true dynamism that reflects a rawness in their relationship.  For all the glitz of the visuals, it’s this added human fragility that gives weight (to the journey) because of how it highlights ambition, selfishness and greed in both individuals.  Even as things fall into biopic tropes, there is an everlasting impact of their performances that add weight in the climax.  Elvis is a biopic that bends the norms (slightly) to create something that is a spectacle of the genre.  If you are a fan of biopics, Elvis or like a good musical like film, this is one for you.   There is enough here for a good time at the theaters.

Full Score – 3.5 out of 5 (Matinee)

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