Elton John is, to put it mildly, an accomplished musician. Whether you’ve attended one of his concerts, heard one of his singles playing on the radio, or inappropriately called upon his iconography in your discourse with a fellow world leader, you’ve likely heard of the man and at least sampled his work. However, that success came at a price: years of his life were plagued with heartache and pain. Director Dexter Fletcher’s Rocketman biopic is concerned with John’s highs and lows, celebrating the artist’s music — it’s even named after his 1972 classic “Rocket Man” — and exploring his emotional weaknesses and struggles. 


John, played by Taron Egerton, begins the picture by bombastically opening a door. He’s focused, bold and wearing a bright devil costume, suggesting he’s about to perform before a rousing audience. That expectation is then swiftly subverted, revealing he was walking into an addiction rehabilitation session. John opens up to them about his flaws, troubles and past, initiating a flashback to his childhood in Britain. Rocketman then chronicles through significant events in the singer’s life, spending most of its time during his adult years. We witness the musician’s mental decline following his initial success, seeing his relationships falter while he becomes heavily reliant on drugs and alcohol. 

Rocketman is briskly paced, never dwelling on any moment in John’s life for too long. This is somewhat disappointing (certain phases could’ve benefited from further elaboration) but understandable as a consequence of the two-hour runtime. However, that time is rationed intelligently, with the film closing by looping back to the present. It shows John finally coming to terms with himself and those who’ve wronged him, namely his aloof mother (Bryce Dallas Howard), disinterested father (Steven Mackintosh) and former manager and disloyal lover John Reid (Richard Madden). It also, thankfully, ends by depicting the legendary performer triumphantly in his element, affirming he finally found happiness.

A considerable level of care was placed into Rocketman’s presentation and, befitting its subject, musical cues permeate the production. They’re often utilized to transition from one set-piece or era to another, and the songs serve as an allegory for John’s actions or metal state. The dancing choreography is impeccable, and it’s accentuated by measured use of color and lighting (something one of the making-of bonuses discusses). 

Elton John Poses With 'Rocketman' Star Taron Egerton At 2019 Cannes Film Festival

While the cast was stellar, Egerton’s the clear standout, elevating Rockteman to greater heights with an impassioned performance.  

Rocketman isn’t perfect – the formulaic structure of biopics can still be felt under the gloss – but it is an immaculately detailed production worthy of Elton John and his fans. It also boasts a wealth of bonus content on the Blu-ray disc, containing over 70 minutes of special features. Traditional Blu-ray bonuses such as making-of features and deleted scenes are accounted for, and the package even comes with a small booklet bearing a written forward by John himself.

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