Eppler: "Rocketman" is the R-rated musical fantasy Elton John de

Eppler: "Rocketman" is the R-rated musical fantasy Elton John deserves

 
Within the first few minutes of "Rocketman," it's clear this is no typical rock biopic. It's lavish, over-the-top, and rarely understated and always entertaining - like Elton John. 
 
While some of the details of Elton John's personal story follow the typical trajectory of an enormous talent rising to fame and battling personal demons, "Rocketman" is a fresh take - a musical fantasy less interested in chronicling the artist's career and more taken with who he is. 
 
 
We follow a young Reginald Dwight through an uneasy childhood through his self discovery as an artist and a gay man - becoming Elton, played by a pitch-perfect Taron Egerton. 
 
The movie touches on several important relationships, the most crucial with his long-time lyricist - Bernie Taupin, played by a wonderfully sympathetic Jamie Bell. We also see his poisonous romantic relationship with his manager, John Reid played by Richard Madden ("The Bodyguard"). 
 
There are nearly two dozen songs - barely scratching the surface of Elton's remarkable career. They're not deployed chronologically in the movie, but instead when they suit the mood of the scene. They play as concert performances, Broadway-style song and dance numbers and intimate private soliloquies.
 
Sometimes the songs feel forced on scenes. They don't sound like you remember them, but I like that. Otherwise, you could just stream the originals. 
 
The movie looks ready-made for the Broadway stage, and it's hard to imagine Elton John's story being told any other way. Likewise, Egerton makes a strong case that no one else should have played the lead role. Doing his own singing, he captures the flamboyancy and passion with the aching heart underneath. 
 
Elton John himself was heavily involved as Executive Producer, which is why the movie feels very selective about certain things like quickly brushing over his sham first marriage. But it still feels intimate while providing plenty of spectacle.
 
If you're an Elton John fan, you can tell everybody - this is your movie. 
 
EPPLER'S RATING: * * * *
 

RATING SCALE

* * * * * Incredible - One of the best of the year
* * * * Excellent - Touches greatness with only minor quibbles
* * * Good - Plenty to like, definitely worth seeing
* * Mediocre - You can do better
* Awful - The worst, an insult to movies

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