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PARAMOUNT

MOVIE INFO

Director:
Dexter Fletcher
Cast:
Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Richard Madden
Writing Credits:
Lee Hall

Synopsis:
A "musical fantasy" version of Elton John's life and career.

Box Office:
Budget:
$40 million.
Opening Weekend:
$25,725,722 on 3610 Screens.
Domestic Gross
$95,947,924.

MPAA:
Rated R.

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
Audio:
English Dolby Atmos
English Audio Description
Spanish Dolby 5.1
Latin American Spanish Dolby 5.1
French Dolby 5.1
French Canadian Dolby 5.1
Brazilian Portuguese Dolby 5.1
Thai Dolby 5.1
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Latin American Spanish
Brazilian Portuguese
French Canadian
Malaysian
Korean
Hindi
Mandarin
Thai
Cantonese
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Latin American Spanish
Brazilian Portuguese
French
Danish
German
Italian
Dutch
Norwegian
Finnish
Swedish

Runtime: 121 min.
Price: $31.99
Release Date: 8/27/2019

Bonus:
• Extended Musical Numbers
• Deleted/Extended Scenes
• “Creative Vision” Featurette
• “Taron’s Transformation” Featurette
• “Larger Than Life” Featurette
• “Full Tilt” Featurette
• “The Studio Sessions” Featurette
• Lyric Companion
• Jukebox
• DVD Copy


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RELATED REVIEWS


Rocketman [Blu-Ray] (2019)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (August 15, 2019)

For a look at the life and career of famed musician Elton John, we go to 2019’s “musical fantasy” biopic Rocketman. In the 1980s, Elton (Taron Egerton) hits rock bottom and seeks help through a support group.

This setting allows Elton to tell his life story, so we encounter young Reg Dwight (Matthew Illesley) in the 1950s. His father Stanley (Steven Mackintosh) remains aloof and detached, while his mother Sheila (Bryce Dallas Howard) seems more interested in romantic affairs than real parenting, so Reg grows up without much love or attention.

Eventually Reg discovers a passion and a talent for music, as he proves to be a prodigy on the piano. This gets adolescent Reg (Kit Connor) a scholarship to the Royal Academy of Music, a place that gives him formal instruction and furthers his skills.

Like most youths in the 50s, Reg loves rock ‘n’ roll, and he decides to pursue pop music. As a young adult (Egerton), Reg gets into bands, changes his name to “Elton John” and writes his own tunes.

Elton lacks the ability to compose good lyrics, though, so he partners with Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell) to cover that domain. This allows Elton to eventually land a recording contract and head on his way to rock superstardom.

However, Elton still feels unloved, as the closeted gay man struggles for acceptance on an emotional level. Elton deals with his depression via substance abuse, factors that threaten his career and his life.

Some may remember my criticisms of Bohemian Rhapsody and how much I disliked it. I need to get some phone numbers, as I feel I should call each and every cast/crewmember on Rhapsody to apologize.

Everything wrong with the Queen film goes wrong with Rocketman but multiplied by 10. Both start in a promising manner but go quickly off the rails, though Rhapsody looks like Citizen Kane compared to this trainwreck.

Basically Rocketman suffers from all the problems with Rhapsody as well as many others. Maybe I just can't enjoy biopics when I know the facts behind the tale, but Rocketman goes so crazy with wrong information that it drives me nuts.

Yeah, it bugged me in Rhapsody as well, but in that case, it was mostly the idiotic way they depicted the Live Aid finale that annoyed me. I didn't like the other alterations of truth but it was Live Aid and the lies that surrounded it that drove me nuts.

With Rocketman, there are weird factual anomalies all over the place. These include simply bizarre changes in the truth.

I'm not complaining about the obvious fantasy scenes. I felt fine with "Saturday Night's Alright (For Fighting)" showing up in the 1960s because that was a fanciful musical number.

I also had no issue with stuff like the Troubadour crowd levitating. Again, this offers fantasy and it becomes depicted as such.

But much of the movie plays as fact when it isn't. I constantly couldn't figure out what year the movie was supposed to be in because it played so fast and loose with events.

The movie ends in 1983 - I guess - which is before Elton married Renata in real life. In the film, they wed - and split - years before 1983.

I'm no Elton scholar but I grew up in his heyday and was aware of the chronology. Seeing weird, nonsensical choices such as the scene where he records "Don't Go Breaking My Heart" in 1972 (or so) just perplexes me. Some of the changes come in the right order - such as Elton's marriage to Renata pre-rehab - but move them up.

Rocketman definitely does a Rhapsody in that it changes the facts to give Elton a "big comeback". Rhapsody fabricated a Queen break-up/Live Aid reunion that never happened to give the movie a grand finale, whereas Rocketman sends Elton to rehab years earlier than reality.

This occurs he can team up with Bernie again after a long break and come back with the big hits from 1983 after years of flops. Except the Elton/Bernie break was 1977-79, so there was no big reunion in 1983.

And Elton had hits in his "fallow years" anyway. The common perception is that Elton fell off the earth as a hitmaker between 1976 and 1983, but that's not accurate.

Sure, he lost the chart dominance he had in the 1st half of the 70s, but he still got hits. 1977-78 were his worst years, as he only scored in the top 30 those years, but he hit the top 10 in 1979 and 1980's "Little Jeannie" made it to #3!

1981 had a top 30 single while 1982 had 2 top 20s. 1983 was a comeback of sorts, but not to the degree the film paints, and 1983 Elton certainly wasn't the clean/sober/happy guy the movie wants us to believe he was.

I think the whole "musical fantasy" angle is a copout on the part of the filmmakers. It feels like they use that as a cudgel to dismiss the wild flights of inaccuracy, like saying "it's a fantasy!" excuses all the alterations of reality.

Even if I ignore all these eye-rolling moments, the movie's just a joyless slog. I get that it's a story of Elton's rise and fall, but it's way more about the fall and less about the rise.

It's an inspirational tale that lacks inspiration. It never does much to convey what made Elton special, and Egerton can't make him charismatic.

I liked Egerton's singing - he's not a vocal clone ala the guy who did Freddie's vocals in Rhapsody, but he's credible. His acting feels less compelling, and he made Elton just seem dull.

Even if Rocketmen brought us a complete work of fiction, I'd still find it to be a weak movie, as it just lacks much to make it involving or memorable. We barely get a sense of what made Elton a massive star, so all we find is a cliche tale of the sad boy who wanted love.

I suspect that if this movie wasn't connected to Elton- if it was about a fictional rock star - it'd be panned. It's the fact so many people justifiably love the music that makes it endearing, as the drama itself is trite and predictable and one-dimensional.


The Disc Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

Rocketman appears in an aspect ratio of 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie came with excellent visuals.

Sharpness maintained a high caliber of clarity. Virtually no softness marred the presentation, as it remained tight and well-defined. I saw no shimmering or jaggies, and both edge haloes and print flaws also failed to appear.

Can’t Hollywood at least avoid teal and orange for period biopics? Apparently not, as those tones dominated the film’s palette. Despite the tedious nature of those choices, the colors looked well-represented for what they were, and occasional instances of other tones managed to show nice vivacity.

Blacks seemed dark and deep, while low-light shots offered solid delineation. Everything about the transfer satisfied.

Though not as memorable, the film’s Dolby Atmos soundtrack worked fine for the material at hand. Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, music dominated and used the various speakers well. These boosted the songs in a lively manner.

Effects got less to do and usually offered general ambience. That left us without much in terms of auditory fireworks, but given the story’s character/musical focus, this made sense.

Overall audio quality seemed good. Speech was natural and concise, without edginess or other issues.

Music sounded peppy and full, while effects seemed acceptable. As mentioned earlier, these elements lacked much to stand out from the crowd, but they appeared accurate enough. This all added up to a “B“ soundtrack that fared best in its use of Elton’s songs.

Two music-related options appear as extras. Lyric Companion provides words when songs play to give us a “singalong” option, whereas Jukebox lets us jump to any of the movie’s 23 songs – or watch them all via a “Play All” feature that lasts 52 minutes, 49 seconds. Neither of these adds much value from my point of view, but they’re harmless and someone might like them.

Four Extended Musical Numbers fill 14 minutes, 48 seconds. In addition to an optional – and forgettable - 30-second introduction from director Dexter Fletcher, we find “The Bitch Is Back” (2:13), “Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting)” (4:00), “Breaking Down the Walls of Heartache” (3:55) and “Honky Cat” (4:39).

After another fairly pointless 25-second intro from Fletcher, we see 10 Deleted and Extended Scenes. These occupy 19 minutes, 39 seconds.

With the “Musical Numbers”, most go on a bit too long. “Bitch” offers some interesting changes, but others – especially “Cat” – just ramble.

As for the deleted/extended clips, most bring us a bit of extra character exposition. For instance, we see more of Elton with his childhood piano teacher, and we get more of other characters. They’re decent but not especially memorable.

In a more substantial addition, we see the beginning of the AIDS epidemic and its impact on Elton. Another scene lets us observe Elton’s burgeoning interest in that cause. Both of these seem interesting on their own, but I think they would’ve been contrived if placed in the final film.

Two segments that show Elton in rehab feel the same. Independently, they’re intriguing, but they slow the movie’s pace.

Five featurettes follow, and Creative Vision runs seven minutes, eight seconds and brings comments from Fletcher, Elton John, producers David Furnish and Matthew Vaughn, and actor Taron Egerton.

“Vision” looks at the film’s roots and approach to the material, development, and story/character elements. A few decent notes emerge, but most of the featurette feels superficial.

With Taron’s Transformation, we find a six-minute, 52-second reel that features Egerton, John, Fletcher, makeup/hair designer Lizzie Yianni Georgiou, costume designer Julian Day, and pianist/vocal coach Michael L. Roberts.

As expected, this show discusses Egerton’s preparation and performance. Though we get a smattering of insights related to Egerton’s approach, much of “Transformation” just praises him.

Next comes Larger Than Life, an eight-minute, 55-second clip with Fletcher, John, Vaughn, Day, Georgiou, production designer Marcus Rowland, and location manager Andrew Buckley. Here we examine sets and locations as well as costumes and hair/makeup. “Life” becomes a reasonably efficient overview.

Full Tilt fills 10 minutes, nine seconds with notes from Vaughn, Fletcher, Furnish, Rowland, songwriter Bernie Taupin, choreographer Adam Murray, music producer Giles Martin, Egerton, and actor Richard Madden.

“Tilt” covers the reworked songs as well as choreography. Like “Life”, it offers a fairly useful take on the topics.

Finally, The Studio Sessions takes up 11 minutes, 33 seconds with info from Vaughn, Fletcher, Egerton and John. These tell us about Egerton’s singing in a generally fluffy piece.

As a virtually lifelong fan of Elton John’s music, I wanted to enjoy Rocketman. Unfortunately, it makes so many severe missteps that it becomes a chore to watch. The Blu-ray boasts excellent visuals, good audio and a decent array of bonus materials. Even diehard Elton aficionados should avoid this mess.

Viewer Film Ratings: 2.3333 Stars Number of Votes: 3
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Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main