“Rocketman” Falls Short


Ada Carter

“Rocketman” tells the story of Elton John.

Andrew Mello, Arts and Entertainment Editor

Falcon Rating: 2/5 Falcons

If I were to boil down my experience watching Rocketman into one feeling, it would be déjà vu. As soon as the film began, I already knew exactly which beats the story would follow because Rocketman is like so many other movies. By the time the end credits rolled-around I was bored. Everything presented in Rocketman can be seen on the poster or from the trailer and thus the actual film has nothing left to show. Elton John (Taron Egerton) was very well captured, but the story of the production of his classic records is both cliché and forgettable.

Rocketman’s goal was to portray the many events and obstacles throughout his life that shaped Elton John, renowned for being one of the best-selling artists of all time. The film begins by depicting John’s childhood growing up in England and him coming to terms with being gay at a time when same-sex relationships were thought to be shameful. Most of the themes and scenes in Rocketman have been seen before in other rockstar biographies and they are no less subtle here. After a childhood spent being picked on by bullies, John soon discovers music through the piano in his living room. During one of the earlier song numbers, John matures into a young (and prematurely bald) man who tries to break into the music industry with help from his songwriting partner Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell). Director Dexter Fletcher tries to show the birth of as many hit songs as he can in two hours.

Despite having all the color, noise, and flair of Elton John’s finest days, it’s the spirit Rocketman lacks that leaves it so hollow.”

When performing a movie based on real events, actors are often able to immerse themselves in a role so effectively that the character is brought back to life. Continuing the trend of other biopics, Taron Egerton performs excellently as the lead. He succeeds in playing a character who struggles to balance insecurities with the bright-faced performer he must present to his fans each evening. However, almost every cast member other than Egerton exists at face value; none of them add any depth or complexity to their characters. Even John’s songwriting partner only ends up delivering lyrics to him. Without anyone to accentuate his performance, Egerton rings silent as the film’s only interesting character. The film’s storyline is as weak as it’s characters. The only engaging conflict throughout the film is John’s singer’s infamous narcotic addiction as his whirlpool of fame gets the better of him. The only other thing that Rocketman has going for it is some creative technical elements that liven (and support) much of the film, such as the visual effects during many of the indulgent musical numbers.

John’s life is shown through many intentionally surreal (or drug-fueled) spectacles, some of which are better than others. One of the better ones showcases a levitating crowd, while one of the worst has Elton age 15 years between consecutive notes in a song. While some of these extravagant scenes look very slick, much of the middle third of the film plays out closer to a greatest hits DVD than a complete story.

Despite having all the color, noise, and flair of Elton John’s finest days, it’s the spirit Rocketman lacks that leaves it so hollow. Without anything new to offer, Rocketman feels tired—or, worse—stale. The name’s there, but without anything to connect with, the film is akin to a Wikipedia article.