Rocketman (2019)

“this year’s Bohemian Rhapsody”. No, let me nip that in the bud right now; this is not Bohemian Rhapsody. In terms of tone, structure, and style, this is completely different from Bohemian Rhapsody. They’re similar in the fact that they’re both biographies of musicians, but by that logic, Fawlty Towers is the same as Psycho. In terms of how it treats the subject, this is more like Get On Up than Bohemian Rhapsody. Whilst Bohemian Rhapsody builds the subject up, telling the audience about their greatness, this film almost delights in exposing their flaws. It’s brutally honest about the problems he has gone through and is so harsh towards them that if it wasn’t made with Elton Johns approval it would feel like a character assassination.

I felt that Bohemian Rhapsody’s biggest flaw is that it felt too restrained by the confines of the rating, it’s hard to tell that story under a 12 rating. Rocketman is a 15, and to be honest, it needs to be; if they toned down the drugs and sex this would be less of a story. The good thing though is that it never feels gratuitous, you don’t feel like they’re swearing for the sake of swearing, or showing sex solely for the purposes of titillation (although it did make me realise how rarely we see male gay sex in film).

I like how they told this story, it was almost a jukebox musical, the characters would randomly burst into Elton John songs in a way that could have been annoying. For me it really worked for two reasons:

  1. The story is being told via flashback, it’s Elton telling the story to people, so of course, he would express his history through songs he knows.
  2. It’s an Elton John movie. It has to be fantastical, it has to be out there, it has to be more extravagant than a movie.

That last point is very important. Bohemian Rhapsody was a good film, but it wasn’t a Queen film, there was nothing about the way they told that story that was Queen-like, it was a good film, but it was also quite standard in terms of the way the story was told (although the editing was ATROCIOUS for some of it, cutting way too quickly in conversations). The way they tell this story is very Elton John, it breaks the bounds of normality and does something unique and fantastic. And yes, it is fantastic in the way it looks. The set-pieces are unique and brilliant, it turns out Dexter Fletcher is REALLY good. The only film I’ve seen of his before was Eddie The Eagle and that was a different beast entirely. He did a part of the Queen movie (what was that called again?) but I can’t really tell which moments. He really should get plaudits for this, this had a budget of £40million yet looks larger. I genuinely believe if you gave him a Bond film he would knock it out the park (I mean, I still wouldn’t watch it, because ewww Bond). It’s not just Fletcher who deserves praise (but, and I cannot say this enough, he REALLY does), Taron Egerton does too. He gives a career-best performance here, him and Fletcher really seem to bring out the best in each other. It’s weird, he doesn’t look like Elton John at all at any time in this film, yet he plays him perfectly. It’s a bit like Michael Sheen in The Damned United (which you should all watch by the way), he doesn’t look like Brian Clough at all, but he behaves like him and captures the person’s essence so well that you cannot hope for someone to play them better. Actually, the best example would probably be Harry Enfield when he was on Spitting Image. He sounded nothing like the people he was doing impressions of, but he captured their personalities so well that it worked. It’s the same here, Egerton really captures Elton Johns personality in his performance (and his vocals are really impressive too).

So in summary: go see this film. Godzilla may be out now too, but this is true spectacle cinema.

5 Amazing Comic Book Movies Still To Come In 2017

5. Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Okay, not technically based on a comic book, but is the sequel to a film that is. The trailer for this will be released later today, two teasers already been made (one of which is the entire trailer sped up to fit into 10 second, very cool and innovative way of doing it, already led to people slowing it down and discussing it). No idea how they’re going to bring back Colin Firth’s character, but I’m looking forward to it. I’m sure they wouldn’t bring him back for no reason, not as though they’re short of credible actors in this film; they’ve got Channing Tatum, Jeff Bridges, Julianne Moore etc. Not released until September but already really looking forward to it.

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4. Wonder Woman

Saw the trailer, loved it. Gal Gadot was one of the best things about Batman Vs. Superman, so the fact her character has FINALLY got a full length feature is very exciting. Basically seems like an origin story, which I’m okay with as her origin hasn’t permeated popular culture that much so for new people they would need to know that. Of course, it would have been a better idea if they did this film BEFORE Batman Vs. Superman as at the moment I can’t see their being any tension in it all. Not for her character anyway, you know she’s going to survive so you won’t worry if she’s safe, which means that unless the film kills somebody she’s close to it won’t be able to land emotionally enough to be effective. Really hope this does well, mainly because if it doesn’t, internet assholes (and studio executives) will blame the fact it’s a female character for the failure, and be more reluctant to do female-led movies in the future.

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3. Justice League

Mainly curious about this one. Personally (and I’m happy to be proven wrong), I think the DC Extended Universe scheduling has been a complete mess so far. BvS should not have been the second film in the series, you need to build up tension between the characters first in other films so that it feels like it means something, as it was it just felt like “hey, this is happening” “and? Who cares?”. They’ve done that fight so early on in the series that there’s not that much left for them to do, there’s not many “big events” they have to call back on (especially since they’ve also already done The Death Of Superman). Related to this, Justice League should not be released this year. It’s too big a film to come out so soon after Wonder Woman, they’ve already released the trailers for this before Wonder Woman is out. They’re really rushing this through and it could end up harming the product in the long run. Although I am still kind of excited about it, so what do I know?

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2. Guardians Of The Galaxy Volume 2

Released very soon, really looking forward to it. Had a kind of average marketing campaign, I’d hoped the marketing campaign of Deadpool would lead to more innovative and unique marketing for “quirky” comic book films, but seems like it’s just standard “trailer tease, trailer, second trailer, release” kind of thing. Trailer looks good though, slight risk that they’re intentionally trying to create memes with it, which hasn’t been too annoying in the trailers but if the rest of the film is like that it could be off-putting. Guardians is in a weird place this time, the first one was so good that expectations are high, which is almost the complete opposite of what the situation was last time, where everybody expected this to be the iceberg that sinks the MCU Titanic. Have to wonder whether this will be the film where they explicitly acknowledge the link between it and the rest of the MCU. Also, I really hope it’s not just going to be a rehash of the first one. I want to be amazed during this, but I trust Marvel, so I think I will be.

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1. Spider-Man: Homecoming

Tom Holland’s Spider-Man was one of the (many many) highlights of Captain America: Civil War, so much so that it almost made audiences completely forget that this is the third reboot of the franchise in a short period of time. Confession time: He’s one of the characters I’ve never really liked in films, he’s always supposed to be a teenager but is never played as one. At least, not an actual teenager, he’s played like the leading man in a teen drama where “anxiety” and “shy geek” just means “is friends with the most popular girl in school but hasn’t dated her yet” and the only sign of their geekdom is that people with letters on their jacket (I now know it’s their school letters, but I will never stop having a small part of me think it’s their initials so they don’t forget their names) shove them into lockers. This Spider-Man however is a teenager, he geeks out over superheroes, he messes up, he gets overexcited (which then leads to more mistakes). More importantly: he’s fun. He’s a funny, engaging character whom is inherently likeable, and should do well in his full length debut, which is thankfully, not an origin story.

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Note to directors: EVERYBODY knows this scene, it’s NEVER been needed in a film