The King of Rock and Roll is having yet another comeback, this time in Baz Luhrmann’s eccentric biography, “Elvis.”
And the Elvis look-alike they got for the role isn’t just some goofy guy off the streets of Las Vegas.
Any of you who are familiar with Australian filmmaker Baz Luhrmann — director of “The Great Gatsby,” “Moulin Rouge,” and “Romeo + Juliet” — know the man’s got pizazz. His directorial style is if it doesn’t sparkle then it probably doesn’t belong on screen.
Needless to say, Luhrmann was the perfect candidate to chronicle the rock star’s dazzling life.
The film takes an interesting perspective on the Elvis story. It opts to tell it from the point of view of Elvis’s longtime manager, Colonel Tom Parker, played by iconic actor Tom Hanks.
The Colonel acts as a sort of anti-narrator due to speculation on how much control he had of Elvis’ life.
Elvis, played by up-and-coming actor Austin Butler, is seen from his humble beginnings in Tupelo, Mississippi where he first developed his love for music through church gatherings, to his pinnacle of stardom and comeback years, and finally to his rise on the Vegas Strip and untimely death.
Details of his life are brought to the surface like the influence of African American culture on his music tastes, the impact of his wife Priscilla, played by Olivia DeJong, on his happiness, and the maniacal Colonel lurking behind every dollar.
Though Hanks is the big name of the film, it’s really Austin Butler’s performance that you come to see. If there’s a performance worthy of this year’s Oscar, this would be it. Boy, does he shine.
Every aspect of the role was impressive — from the way Butler moved and talked, to the fact that he sang every song in the film. Apparently he studied every single Elvis interview until he could recite them verbatim. The research shows but doesn’t encompass the entire performance.
And of course, the music was incredible as well. Much like 2018’s “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
However, the film is not without a couple flaws.
The most glaring might just be one of its greatest attractions, its heavy emphasis on style. Don’t get me wrong, I love Luhrmann’s style, but a few aspects of Elvis’s life were overshadowed by it.
Only one real childhood experience was covered in the film. Because of that it gave me the overall impression that Elvis was just divinely blessed with his music ability from the get-go. Further research shows that it took many years of practice after that experience until he was able to perform as well as he did.
It would’ve also been nice to see more attention devoted to Elvis’s death.
I’ve always thought there was a fascinating story behind it — did it really take place on a toilet — but the movie glosses over whatever killed The King far too quickly.
Despite these faults, I believe the film will spark a renewed interest in Elvis and in his music.
It’s worth a watch. It’s wild, entertaining, and informative. I’m giving “Elvis” an 8 out of 10. The film is rated PG-13 for substance abuse, strong language, suggestive material, and smoking. The runtime is also a little long.