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The Elton John Biopic Is Out. What Critics Are Saying

Most are impressed as Taron Egerton channels the singer in 'Rocketman'
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted May 31, 2019 1:05 PM CDT

(Newser) – Anyone familiar with Elton John's five-decade-spanning career should expect a wild ride in Rocketman. That's exactly what director Dexter Fletcher delivers, according to critics, who've given the film a 90% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Most are applauding star Taron Egerton, whose own voice you'll hear throughout. Four takes:

  • "Fletcher isn't seeking to reinvent a very practiced storytelling formula; he's just perfecting it" with "the most enjoyable pop biopic in years," according to David Sims at the Atlantic. Egerton does swimmingly, too. He "understands that exuding charisma is much more important than getting lost in the details," Sims writes. "The result is exciting, star-making stuff."
  • "Cut from the same gaudy cloth as Bohemian Rhapsody, this glam-rock bio-pic presents an Elton John marginally less sanitized than its predecessor's Freddie Mercury," and emerges the better of the two films, according to Anthony Lane. He wasn't taken with Egerton, though. "There's a curious blankness in his impersonation, and a shortage of charm," he writes at the New Yorker.

  • Brian Lowry completely disagrees. "Egerton's electric performance as the famed rock star drives this jukebox musical," with only "the occasional feel of a Hollywood rags-to-riches cliché," he writes at CNN. "Egerton isn't so much impersonating as inhabiting [John], having mastered not just his voice but his mannerisms and internal struggles." One downside: John's songs, used to tell his story, are "not always a perfect fit."
  • Katie Walsh found little to fault. A biopic "as wild and unique" as its subject, Rocketman "explodes into song-and-dance fantasy, expressing the emotional twists, turns and turmoil of each moment in John's remarkable life." Egerton is "the anchor and the engine," Walsh adds at the Tribune News Service. This is "quite possibly the role he was born to play."
(John is certainly proud of the film.)

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