As this smash hit movie hits the online subscription, Ben Heiss (in his last NK review before leaving) is all shook up.
In Elvis, Bahz Luhrmann gives an old rock idol a new young audience with his hyper paced film. It beats all the new biopics on that front. Bye Bye Rocketman and Bohemian Rhapsody. Seriously, I really am not a fan of Elvis music but this film packs a punch that will knock the music into your head and leave it there, indented.
Clearly the energy that’s riddled in this film's filmmaking creation is not the only attraction. Austin Butler goes beyond what he needs to in this thing. I mean he was already a fan casting, realistically I think people would’ve been pleased with a less intense and perfect performance because it’s what everyone was asking for. But Austin really did become Elvis. I prefer his version of Trouble to Elvis’. The guy literally outdid the artist. Obviously, that’s because the soundtrack is tailored further to a modern sound, but Austin still matches Presley's voice. The dance, the expressions, the looks, it’s all there. All of it. I did find the whole story that Austin broadcasted on Jimmy Fallon about letting Elvis “take over his body and perform for one last time” (not a direct quote) kind of stupid but you’ve got to give it to him: It is like watching Elvis perform. It’s close to perfection.
"The dance, the expressions, the looks, it’s all there. All of it. "
Tom Hanks gives a very standard Performance, still great but nothing too special. It’s clever how we expect a story that will set the record straight about Colonel Tom Parker, but in reality, this film just proves how he manipulated and abused Elvis. However, making this conclusion unknown by the telling of the story with narration from the main villain - (who spends the film's duration trying to manipulate the audience) makes it more eventful but heart-breaking when we relearn what we already thought: The Cornell is at fault.
The ending is just as clever. Cutting out two years of Elvis' life avoids making his death too melodramatic and making sure the film avoids an disrespectful depiction of Elvis is brilliant. Bahz Luhrmann shows us only what we need to see, avoiding any potential boredom. He has clearly come to a conclusion that many biographical directors have failed to come to: To tell a story well, you do not need to tell all of it. In the end, taking shortcuts will work out if the main point of the film is still discussed. Many songs are not in the correct places in this film, for instance the song Trouble was actually recorded much later in Elvis’ career. But it is a song that perfectly describes the early nature of a young Elvis Presley. Bahz goes against factuality and uses this song because he knows it accomplishes factual information: Elvis was trouble in America. Whether the means of communication are not strictly truth does not matter. The sentiment is true. It counts.
Elvis is definitely worth seeing whether you like him as an artist or not. It’s a film that feels somewhat like a modern milestone in commercial biographical filmmaking and works for any audience. You will be entertained, that is promised.
Credits Warner Bros. Pictures