Elvis; Baz Delivers a Honorable BioPic for the King. Grade: B
Elvis is a biopic centering around the best selling solo recording artist of all time: Elvis Presley (Austin Butler). In this film it’ll cover Elvis’ childhood as to where his influence of music started, to starting his music career, to eventually evolving as the most famous person alive as everyone including women especially wanted to see or be near the star. The story will also develop Elvis’ partnership with Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks), whom ended up being Elvis’ manager and actually contribute him into his stardom as well.
I’m extremely surprised an Elvis Presley biopic wasn’t made sooner, on the count he truly is the most iconic musician in music history. The man is still talked about so often amongst people and still celebrated across the country, like he never left. He surely made an impact on Rock n Roll, Rhythm and Blues, and even Gospel music… Not to mention he was also a movie star and especially a fashion icon too, as there’s not really a single soul that can replicate Elvis’ sense of style. The man was loved by many, especially my father who claims Elvis is one of his heroes.
Elvis is a film in which of course has high expectations. Baz Luhrmann whom is the director of this film, knowing his style in his films… You’re expected to receive a grand spectacle and most certainly transform yourself into a whole new world. In a way I can understand why Baz was the man to take on a project like this: Elvis’ life is most certainly a grand spectacle within itself, as really no other artist has received the attention this man received as a solo artist. I can see why Elvis’ family appreciated this work of art from Baz: It’s a film in which does honor the man whiling revealing the man’s flaws, but does so in a truthful accurate manner as I believe he accomplished that goal at hand.
The world building of Elvis was certainly a massive surprise from the opening minutes, as while I listening to music to tune out the movie trailers, I thought it was showing a trailer of this film before it started. It does take a little time to adjust yourself in this world Baz created within the story of Elvis, but once it’s start adjusting itself where it’s much easier to follow and that it’s not all over the place… It’s quite fascinating.
The Production design was truly magnificent, it really felt like being on a carnival ride as that’s where Elvis mainly started out when performing in these carnival/fair like shows. The theater, the stages, the houses, the cars, not to mention the outside stadium like… Just all looks pretty authentic and super duper cool to experience. I certainly LOVED the Costume Design, I felt the film did a fantastic job in making sure to replicate Elvis’ style and time period style as well. The Cinematography especially looked pretty great in multiple sequences.
I was skeptical at first when it was announced Austin Butler casted as Elvis. Not knowing his singing ability at all, but also due to the fact he’s been best known as Zoey’s love interest in the popular Nickelodeon show Zoey 101… You have a fair amount of doubt if Austin would be able to handle the massive pressure playing a character like Elvis. Well I must say: Austin Butler was most certainly the main highlight of this entire film for me, as he completely bodied this role.
His acting ability in playing Elvis was pretty much seeing himself as Elvis in the mirror: He completely transformed himself to be an identical doppelgänger of Elvis, as the way he talked, the mannerisms, and especially the look of Elvis… Austin Butler completely disappeared as that television love interest we used to see, as he became Elvis, fantastic display of acting and also hats off to the makeup crew especially terrific job on their part. I’m not too sure which sequences were actual singing or just pre recorded from previous Elvis performances, but in the sequences where Butler actually sang he honestly did a pretty good job. I felt he did carried this film on his back as he kept the audience fairly engaged, as they were able to soak in as if they were actually seeing the real Elvis on screen, that’s how great of performance it was.
I felt Tom Hanks performance as Elvis’ manager… It was off putting for me. It felt like a very goofy display, like it felt like I was watching Geppettpo from Pinocchio with this performance, it just didn’t mesh well with the film nor the character at all. There has been claims that Hanks’ portrayal in terms of Parkers accent isn’t accurate at all, which I actually believe those claims… Did Hanks forget what movie he was in, since he’s actually playing Geppettpo in a Pinocchio movie released later this year?! I mean given the fact partially this film was being shot during the pain the ass days in Australia, it’s possible. But yeah this performance was just weird, which is a shame since I felt the character written was actually a fairly written antagonist.
By the end of the film I wasn’t too sure what to think at first. I know what letter grade I was going to give it, however the star rating was up in the air. I feel with time the star rating bumped up considering the fact the film is truly an experience, in which does deliver in displaying a fairly well told story, that was also surprisingly well paced as well despite the long run time of two hours and thirty-nine minutes, as it was a surprisingly smooth watch where it didn’t feel long. It’s a film in which I would love to revisit sometime in the future as well.
The way this film tells the story of Elvis, it may not be constructed like past biopics but I felt they did a reasonably done job in the way they told his story. They went into the backstory of Elvis’ inspiration to where exactly influenced his sound. It’s crazy how his entire mind and body transformed from peeping into a small hole listening to Rhythm and Blues, while attending a small church service as the choir and attendees sing Gospel music, as that’s where Elvis’ soul really elevated into unimaginable heights he never experienced before.
The whole musical journey of Elvis is quite fascinating. Simply living in a time where normally you don’t often see musicians actually grooving with their own music, as it was frown upon to dance in a certain way for example… Wiggling your hips. You can say despite Elvis getting in massive trouble for dancing a certain way, where he’s not acting according to his “race”... Elvis pretty much broken the barrier, as he wanted to give artists the right to be themselves and perform however they like.
The story does indeed highlight the humanitarian side of Elvis extremely well. His humanitarian ways wasn’t all about capitalizing wealth or popularity amongst people like we see on an everyday basis… It’s really all about his purely genuine spirit, as he wanted to better the world around him and especially people. Like the first thing he thought about getting into show business and especially wealth, was to take care of his mother and father. He didn’t care too much about the wealth for himself, it was more towards making sure his family got the best of life, especially his mother whom passionately loved his son ever so much. Though he was troubled along the way: The man was indeed a decent genuine being, who did thought of others even in the most critical times going on in the world.
The pivotal moment of this film to me was where Elvis’ mother passed away. When that moment happened: Elvis really wasn’t the same person, it almost felt as if he didn’t have a trusted navigator guiding him through the road in which we call Life. His mother was a strong authority figure, whom knew what was best for Elvis, as without her… He would end up being taken advantage of by his manager, making poor decision making, and lost control of his life with drugs. It really takes losing the most important figure of your life, to go completely downhill to eventually not be able to fully recover properly, as it was extremely upsetting to watch especially in the third act.
You really get a full experience with this film in which you would want out of an Elvis biopic. It seemed like Baz truly was passionate about this project, as I’m extremely glad he was able to deliver and make an impressive return to cinema.
Overall, Elvis was a dope film. I highly recommend checking this one out, you should definitely make a trip to the theater to see this, definitely needs to be seen on the big screen. Not too sure if my dad like this film or not, but considering the fact this man talked out loud in excitement “There he goes” a couple sequences, while also tearing up in the end… I think it met his expectations. Oh yeah: This was the first film my dad saw in theaters since Uncut Gems, while this was the first time I seen a film with my parents in years… Elvis really brings the family together. -Mitch Smietana