"Rocketman" (2019 release; 121 min.) is a bio-pic about Elton John, "based on a true fantasy" as we were promised in the movie's trailer. As the movie opens, Elton is in an outrageous costume and he staggers into what we then understand is his very first AA meeting. Elton begins telling his life story to the group, and as he starts singing "The Bitch Is Back", the movie morphs back to Elton's early childhood. We get to know Reggie Dwight as a 5 yr. old, living with his miserable parents (his dad is cold and aloof, to say the least), but Reggie takes an immediate interest in his dad's record collection... At this point we are 10 min. into the movie, but to tell you more of the plot would spoil your viewing experience, you'll just have to see for yourself how it all plays out.
Couple of comments: Elton John's biopic has been in development hell for many years (at one point Justin Timberlake was attached to play Elton), but the movie is finally here, directed by Dexter Fletcher, who also came to the rescue for last year's Freddie Mercury bio-pic "Bohemian Rhapsody". The interesting thing is that these 2 movie's couldn't be more different. Whereas "Bohemian Rhapsody" follows the traditional bio-pic path, "Rocketman" does not, and cannot be relied upon to be an accurate reflection of Elton John's musical career (example: it shows Elton performing "Crocodile Rock" at one of the famed 1970 LA Troubadour shows, a song from several years later that he didn't perform in 1970). Later on, "Rocketman" (the song) is played out as a long fantasy scene in a pool. And so on. The movie feels more like a Broadway play, and in fact I will state right now that it's only a matter of time before this becomes a mega-Broadway show. The other big difference with "Bohemian Rhapsody" is that the songs we hear are sung by Taron Egerton (best known for his role in the "Kingsman" movies and also in "Eddie the Eagle"), and often in dramatically different arrangements than the originals. Let's be clear: Egerton is absolutely fantastic as Elton, and he also has a great voice, but there is something slightly unsettling about hearing these songs in such a different way. But in the end, the movie clearly is about love (or the lack thereof), and Elton's never-ending journey for redemption (which he eventually finds). The movie does not shy away from Elton's love for men (and the movie is rated R accordingly). "Victim of Love" is surely what he was, and the song is featured prominently in the film. But the ultimate redemption is equally deserved (as we see in the end-titles update).
"Rocketman" was released wide this weekend, and I couldn't wait to see it. The Friday evening screening where I saw this at here in Cincinnati in a fairly large theater was sold out to the very last seat. I quite enjoyed the movie, although I don't think it's up to the same level as "Bohemian Rhapsody" but Taron Egerton deserves props for his performance. If you have any interest in Elton John or in rock history, I'd readily suggest you check this out, be it in the theater, on Amazon Instant Video, or eventually on DVD/Blu-ray, and draw your own conclusion.