Young or old, it would be hard to find someone who hasn’t heard of Elvis. Maybe it’s his music, those famous glasses fit for any costume or maybe it’s the horrible story of what position he died in. The Baz Luhrmann biopic takes a slightly different angle to telling Elvis’s story. While it’s a wonderfully curated story albeit two hours and 39 minutes of it, it is hard to question if this was the best story to be told of The King’s life.
Baz Lurhman’s Elvis is told through the story of Elvis’s Manager, Colonel Tom Parker. Depending on who you ask, he not only made Elvis the superstar he was, he may have also been the cause of Elvis’s death.
The story starts with Elvis’s last days and Parker doing whatever he could to get him on stage. Parker looks to the camera and pleads his case to the viewer explaining he wasn’t to blame.
The journey begins with Elvis’s musical awakening. Living in a shanty town and being the only white kid Elvis heard the sound of the blues from a tin shed. Mesmerised by the sounds Elvis’s attention was drawn to a makeshift tent where he can hear a different sound again. The tent was filled with a gospel choir singing to the heavens. It’s these early days where he was influenced by music Elvis’s signature sound was born.
Cut some 10 years in the future and Elvis has been signed to a label and his music is being played on radios around the country. It’s this moment Parker steps into Elvis’s life. Promising him everything and knowing exactly how to get audiences around the world to love him, Parker worked Elvis to the bone.
Throughout Elvis’s career there wasn’t a problem Parker couldn’t handle, couldn’t fix and couldn’t make happen. But not always to the benefit of Elvis. Take for example Elvis’s desire to travel. It turns out Parker didn’t have a passport and turned anything about travel into a conversation about security. He was clever, manipulative and cunning. And Elvis let it happen.
The bio covers the main part of Elvis’s life. The crowds that loved him. His wife, child and his Vegas shows. It didn’t venture too far from what people might already know. The thing that makes this stand out is it’s told through the eyes of his manager.
For all those who loved his music, this film will not disappoint. It gives you just enough you’ll find yourself singing along as the film covers his extensive catalogue.
A film about the eccentric and dazzling Elvis is right up Baz Lurhman’s alley. Lurhman was able to use his big visual ideas and make him seem even bigger on the screen. There isn’t a part of this film Lurhman didn’t think of, giving every scene the visual splendor it deserves.
The greatest part of this film however is Austin Butler who embodied Elvis to the point you’d be excused thinking it wasn’t Elvis himself. His dance moves and not to mention how much Butler nailed the voice of Elvis is truly amazing.
Overall, if you were to put Elvis in the same boat as Freddy Mercury’s biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody or Elton John’s Rocketman, Elvis is dry and flat. Freddy is sassy and eccentric. Elton is fun and fabulous. That’s not to say Elvis isn’t for everyone. Fans around the world will embrace this film with open arms. But unless you like Elvis, his music or his story, this film won’t be for you.
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