Movie Review – Rocketman

 

Movie Review - RocketmanI had a hard time with this review. Rocketman is both extraordinary (in costuming, sound, and visual sequences) and by-the-numbers (a creative life plagued by inner demons).

Elton John’s musical biopic is a grand fantasy with exciting numbers that feel like a top notch Broadway extravaganza. It’s got great pacing, fun set-pieces, an ideal cast, and a very special find in Taron Egerton.

Egerton looks like John, acts like him — and best of all — sounds like him. Except for the original Elton John song played over the end credits, Egerton does ALL his own singing. That’s no small feat. He’s simply brilliant. Egerton more than inhabits the role.

Taron Edgerton is Elton John in Rocketman
Taron Edgerton is Elton John in Rocketman

Rocketman is also very depressing. John has exactly two people in his life who are nice to him — his grandmother, and his long-time best friend and lyricist, Bernie Taupin. Everyone else is either mildly abusive or very abusive. That isn’t fun to watch. Almost everything between the rollicking tunes is about John’s sorrow, loneliness, obsessions, addictions, self-loathing, and an insane ability to absorb decades of personal torment…but somehow still be a beloved worldwide pop-culture phenomenon.

Was John’s life really this difficult? How much of this tale is true? Or did they make things so awful for John’s film character just to ‘liven things up’?

I don’t think you have to be a personal disaster to be a creative icon. But what do I know?

Since John’s alive (unlike, say, Freddie Mercury), these questions are askable. Reportedly John was so happy with Rocketman that he cried with joy to Egerton after his personal screening. I’d like to know specifically what parts gave him that joy. I just want to know if his life was/wasn’t that awful.

Taron Egerton as Elton John on stage in lights
Our rocketman, in lights.

A friend told me no one wants to watch movies about creative happy people. I’d love to condemn that statement, but I’m also told I have an atypical POV on entertainment. I like to have a fun time at the theater. I want to go home feeling like a damn superhero. If I want turmoil and drama, there’s enough of that in the day-to-day. Or I could simply watch the news.

So, if you’re an emotional sponge who found A Star is Born and Bohemian Rhapsody dismaying, just stay home and watch all your favorite Elton John songs on You Tube. Eventually every cool musical performance by Egerton will appear too, so you can realistically catch 90% of Rocketman for free. (There were so many songs in Rocketman that finding even three non-musical minutes for Peetimes was a challenge.)

But should you see this? Almost every review of Rocketman RAVES on it. It’s super ingenious from start to end. Many sequences are  absolutely in the realm of fantasy, but somehow it all works flawlessly as a biopic. The flick is probably destined to become almost as iconic as the legend himself. Rocketman makes Bohemian Rhapsody look like a documentary.

I’m giving Rocketman a solid A for being so lovingly, thoughtfully, gorgeously made. It’s a remarkable film on many levels — not the least being the framing sequences with John’s outrageous demon costume slowly shedding away, as the inner man reveals himself.

If you can handle intense drug and suicide themes, you’ll enjoy this Elton John tribute. It’s also worth it just for catching Egerton’s performance: there will be awards, without a doubt.

Finally, I’m genuinely happy Elton John is alive to see his film — and if the credit notes are true, things worked out happily in the end.  🙂

Grade: A

RunPee movie meme of rocketman
Fun with the RunPee #MovieMeme. Taron Egerton had literally big shoes to fill, but more than pulled it off in Rocketman.

About The Peetimes: As expected, this was a tough film to find Peetimes for, packed with iconic musical performances and hugely emotional scenes. The first 2 Peetimes are pretty good: I recommend the 2nd at 42 minutes — a nice long break. I avoided any major Elton John songs, as I assume these are what you came to see.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Rocketman. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

Rated (R) for language throughout, some drug use and sexual content
Genres: Biography, Drama, Music

Elton John – Lyrics & Video to Bennie & the Jets

Lyrics & Video to Rocketman by Elton John

Did Rami Malek Sing In Bohemian Rhapsody?

Movie Review – Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen Will Rock You

Movie Review - Bohemian RhapsodyTears — check.  Racing heart — check. Goose pimples — check. Foot stomping good fun — check. A deeper appreciation for a beloved musician and band — double check.

I love Queen’s music; always have, but I’ll be honest: I knew nothing about the band members and their story, and I’m glad I didn’t, because it made this movie so much more enjoyable not knowing. (And I won’t ruin that for you in this review.)

Any discussion of this film must begin with Rami Malek’s outstanding performance as Freddie Mercury. For a role that relied so deeply on voice, it was his expressions — especially his eyes — that told the story. I could go on with platitudes and adjectives, but let’s just say, “He rocked it,” and move on.

The pacing was spot on. There was just enough of each dramatic scene to get the impact without dragging.

The director Bryan Singer (the guy who did the good X-Men movies) showed he can direct a movie to an emotional crescendo just as well — perhaps even better — than he can end with climatic action.

This is a movie with no room for improvement. I see a lot of movies and that’s not something I can often say.

Grade: A+

About The Peetimes: RunPee Vera and I worked together on these Peetimes. I think we came up with four good options, nicely spaced out in the movie. And we worked extra hard to avoid the music montage scenes.

There are extra scenes during, or after, the end credits of Bohemian Rhapsody. (What we mean by Anything Extra.)

What is a Scaramouch? The Meaning Behind Bohemian Rhapsody from Queen

Did Rami Malek Sing In Bohemian Rhapsody?

A Stomping Good Time at the Tournament – Video and Lyrics to We Will Rock You from A Knight’s Tale

We Didn’t Start The Fire – Movie References

If Billy Joel didn’t start the fire, who did? There’s a lot of suspects in this song.

Billy Joel made an historical hit in 1989, with pop song We Didn’t Start The Fire. Historical pop songs are a small genre (I can also think of One Week and Big Bang Theory, both by the Bare Naked Ladies), but mighty catchy to listen to, try as you might to catch all the cool references.

Listening to We Didn’t Start the Fire on my Alexa unit (my favorite home robot), I noticed a few entertainment related mentions, set between the political and and pop culture refs. The song moves fast, so you have to listen carefully. (Or at least check the internet for the rapid-fire, rap-like lyrics.)

The lyrics cover major events set between 1949 through 1989.

Here’s what I caught that have even the tiniest relationship to  entertainment…from the top, using the Wikipedia to keep me honest:  (Feel free to tell me what I missed!)

It’s a pretty impressive song, squeezing events from five decades of world news into only four minutes.

A case could be made to include a lot more relating to entertainment. For example, Richard Nixon featured in the 1999 teen buddy comedy Dick, starring Kirsten Dunst. Malcolm X and JFK also have eponymous movies. “Moonshot” refers to the moon landing project recently popularized in the film First Man.

Here’s the official video for your amusement:

What other pop culture and historical allusions do you think would we should  include on this list?

 

 

 

Quiz – How well do you know Freddie Mercury?

Even though I included a few musical questions, I wanted this quiz to honor Freddie Mercury the man, not just the band Queen.

Freddie Mercury Quiz

Even though I included a few musical questions, I wanted this quiz to honor the man, not just the band.

It’s a shame that when most people hear the name Freddie Mercury, they think about how he died, rather than what a musical genius he was. I hope I’ve changed that perception, if even just a little.

Movie Review – Bohemian Rhapsody – Queen Will Rock You

Funny Harry Potter Fan Film Short – The Mysterious Ticking Noise

If Potters were puppets…

Are you a really big Harry Potter fan? Here’s a somewhat silly, but super fun fan video, called Potter Puppet Pals: The Mysterious Ticking Noise. These guys made a lot of little Harry Potter puppet shorts, but THIS is the best, the most beloved and well known. We Potterhead types have been known to play this video to a room full of fellow fans and sing it out loud together: happy little geeky freaks.

Once you watch this enough times, you can’t get it out of your head. Play it a few times. Catchy. Charming ending, too. There’s also a little subversive bit with Dumbledore to make you go WTF.  What character do you sing along with? (I tend to shout out Ron, Ron, Ron Weasley!  Confused? You’ll see what I mean when you view this.)

So here we go. It’s a little like the classic “Muh Nuh Ma Nuh” earworm from the old days in Sesame Street.

Snape, Snape, Severus Snape…

Related, on RunPee: Enjoy a nicely done and quite amusing parody of the song Uptown Funk, sung by Voldemort and the Death Eaters (that even sounds like a band!), called Dark Lord Funk. Read Voldemort Will Funk You Up.

Voldemort Will Funk You Up

That’s the Were-Wolf Fenrir Greyback getting his shoes shined. Who knew he could read?

I love the video of the Dark Lord Funk, a parody of Uptown Funk, and how it so cleverly sends up the Harry Potter mythos from the perspective of a hip and urban Voldemort. You have to view this one a few times, once for overall enjoyment, once to catch the rich visual humor, and a last time to listen to the excellent line replacements from the original tune.

There’s a TON of references to elements from all seven Potter novels. It’s a real hoot. (<—- Ha. See what I did there?) The video makers even created a moving copy of the Daily Prophet, complete with headlines seemingly ripped from The Deathly Hallows. View the paper firstly at 1:48, then see (at 2:30) this headline: Harry Potter Defies the Dark Funk. Make sure to look for the band logo  for Tom and The Riddles on the drum-set at 3:25. And at 3:54, catch a moment with Hogwarts caretaker Argus Filch.

Enjoy seeing Voldemort get his non-existent hair curled, while dancing with Bellatrix Lestrange, Werewolf Fenrir Greyback, and a small army of Death Eaters. The famous students of Dumbledore’s Army also appear, clearly taken aback by Voldy’s Power of Funk. “Albus sent ya, Hallelujah!”

Watch it through to the end, as there’s a tiny bonus scene with Voldemort wearing the Sorting Hat.

Did you watch the video yet? It’s more fun than a barrel of Dobbys.

Sand: A Star Wars Story (Darth Vader Hates This Song)

Too bad there’s so much sand in the Star Wars universe.

When I first heard this song about Star Wars and Sand, I played it a few times and realized it was way too catchy — impossible to tune out. But it’s so darn cute I don’t mind having the Force bouncing around in my skull for a spell.

The funny thing, in the wake of my post-bliss big-screen experience with Solo: A Star Wars Story, I decided to do an entire chronological re-watch of the entire Star Wars saga (excluding the animated movie and series for now). So two nights ago I saw Phantom Menace again (I’m more forgiving of it every time), then listened to the song. Huh. Really does fit in there.

Last night I watched Attack of the Clones, and then listened to the song a few more times, which really cracked me up. It’s so cringe-inducing listening to Anakin try to flirt with Padme by telling her his problem with sand getting everywhere. Not a romantic image. [pullquote]If your mind mentally replaces the original commonly used words in the prequels with SAND, it’s a bit of awesome.[/pullquote]

Tonite I’ll finish the prequels with Revenge of the Sith, and I expect the song to reach the highest heights of meme humor. Inserting the dread word SAND with almost any line by Anakin improves the experience immeasurably. We finally see why Anakin Force-choked his pregnant wife, fought Obi-Won, and turned the keeping of his soul over to the foul Emperor Palpatine (it was all because of Sand). Remember, in the words of young Ani, “Sand is very, very dangerous.”

And how does his son Luke beat him in Return of the Jedi? He had more Sand.

BTW, if you’re one of the Sandpeople on Tatooine, watch your back: Anakin will bust up your Sandy ways. Why? Because Sand is course, and rough, and irritating, and it gets everywhere. (Clearly, there’s no better reason to become a genocidal psychopath.) I think he only loved Padme for being soft and smooth. (Until she fell in love with the Sand.)

These lines are no more strange than the awkward ones Lucas gave us, so go with it. Where’s a sandworm when you need one?