Elvis Review – Viva las Biopic
It has been awhile since I saw a good biopic and that was Bohemian Rhapsody some years ago. Now its Elvis’ time to shine and I’m quite happy with this.
Check out the trailer for “Elvis” below…
Austin Butler definitely nails the look and sound of Elvis. Check out what he sounds like casually…
He walks and talks and (no offense to Elvis impersonators) but he’s operating on a whole different level when he plays the part of the King of Rock n Roll. My small gripe is that they didn’t go the route of showing his drastic weight gain, which would have showed more of the icon’s spiral during the last few years of his life. But other than that small bit, the dude is EXCELLENT including the swagger, the tone, the smolder.
Tom Hanks hands another great performance as Presley’s manager Colonel Tom Parker, who also plays the film’s narrator. Correction, the film’s unreliable narrator.
I liked what they were doing with the character. Here he is telling “us” the story of Elvis Presley from his perspective with the whole point of making him look like the good guy who discovered Elvis but the film itself paints him as the villain, the manipulative bastard who did whatever it takes to make Presley his golden goose. And if its not obvious enough, the ending credits drops some hard facts about Parker and his financial abuse of Presley.
You do have to forgive the exaggerated movements and accent for Hanks’ Colonel Tom even if he sounds like a generic James Bond villain. He has a lot of tricks in his arsenal to make you hate him more. Chalk it up to Hanks and the film’s writing team to have him appear to say things that’s measured and precise that will hit the hapless Elvis and get him owned by this dastardly man.
As for the other characters, they really are 2D dimensionally written especially Olivia DeJonge who plays Priscilla Presley. She’s pretty much there to cross from point A to point B. But its never fully fleshed out or rather their relationship onscreen is never pushed forward.
The film also experiments with a lot of visual treats whether its a comic book inspired flashback for Elvis when he was a kid to weird and vibrant transitions. I hated those spinning camera tricks that zooms into the flames in the third act. For a few seconds I really thought I was watching a 2 hour and 40 minute James Bond intro.
The editing and some cuts were also confusing but I think that was intentional to be able to reflect the dynamic personality of Elvis.
The music is captivating. After the screening I actually listened to Elvis tunes and saw some clips online including the TV Special comeback which they took a lot of screen time to flesh out.
Luhrman’s Burning Love
You know that the director loved the film project because its chockful of emotion and visuals. The aforementioned transitions and flashbacks were awesome and then there’s the subtle cues throughout the movie.
There’s one that I wanted to point out where in the Vegas arc, Elvis is doing his first performance on stage and he starts singing “Suspicious Minds” around the same time that Colonel Tom and that shady looking International owner are doing their deal. Its contrived yes but its sooooooo good.
Or that time spanning moment where we see Elvis belt out a classic and the screen splits into three namely the past, present and the inspiration.
Baz Luhrmann also took a lot of time to give us an idea of how he grew up and his musical influences which was the RNB and soul music which was the common stuff in the community he grew up in culminating in the moment he has this epiphany.
Music is the King
I’m going to let past the fact that they have Doja Cat here but the music is another treat from classic Elvis stuff like “Hound Dog” to other tracks that casual moviegoers aren’t familiar with. And speaking of music, Austin Butler also does some singing in the film and he’s even credited as the performer for a new version of the song “Trouble”.
Glossed over heartbreak
There were still a number of things where they opted to either briefly touch or avoid altogether including Presley’s ties to Richard Nixon and the womanizing and drug use. Those could have painted a clear picture of his spiral but alas, the Presley estate had to stamp down on some things.
Watch Elvis if you’re a music fan or a hardcore Elvis fan. Highly recommend to film buffs too because its a good Baz Luhrmann film. Luhrmann did not just study the assignment, he did an amazing job at present this to people who barely know the king of rock. Plus its a visual spectacle with some of the director’s trademark eye-candy. Its from the guy who gave the world this wholesome meme after all.
Photo credits to Warner Bros PH