In The 1950s, Elvis Presley became a household name with a distinctive voice, karate moves on stage and jerky dance moves drawing elements of gospel, blues and country mixing them all together giving the birth of Rock and Roll. During his prime, Elvis also earned success as an actor. He garnered controversy over his provocative (for a lack of a better word) dance moves causing moral panic. He was also accused of stealing from black music. Actually, he didn’t. When he was a little boy, he went to church and became fascinated with blues and gospel music.
Regardless of controversy, Elvis managed to stay in show biz. In 1977, Elvis died of a heart attack, due to his drug addiction and unhealthy diet. Although The King is not around anymore, his legacy remains timeless influencing notable bands/musicians including The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, Tom Petty, Bruce Springsteen, & Bob Dylan. His image is featured in merchandise, concert tributes and last but not least, impersonators in Las Vegas. First time I’ve heard of Elvis is “Lilo and Stitch.” When I was a kid, I didn’t realize “Johnny Bravo” is a parody of him. The King is constantly referenced on “Full House” involving running gag as Jesse’s obsession. John Stamos himself is also a real-life fan of Elvis. There’s an episode or two of him dressed in a flashy white outfit.
Two years after Elvis’ shocking death, John Carpenter directed a TV movie with Kurt Russell as the titular singer. Kurt made his film debut in “It Happened at the World’s Fair” when he was a kid. Plus, he’s a fan of the icon. I wasn’t aware Kurt made his debut in the aforementioned film. Heck, I didn’t know there was already a biopic of Elvis prior to the new one with Austin Butler. Originally scheduled for 2021 release, the biopic was postponed when Tom Hanks tested positive for Covid-19. Thankfully, he fully recovered buying enough time for Baz Luhrmann (Romeo and Juliet, Moulin Rouge, The Great Gatsby) to put the final touches. There’s a four-hour cut but had to trim it down for people who have small bladders.
Anyway, Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis earned critical acclaim from critics and movie goers alike. So far, it’s making money at the box office. The King’s surviving family members including his former wife Priscilla, daughter, Lisa Marie and granddaughter, Riley Keough praised the film.
We all know Elvis died in 1977. I’ll keep SPOILERS to a minimum.
Mighty & Weak Aspects
Mighty: Austin Butler did an excellent job for his performance as Elvis. He also did his own singing.
Tom Hanks did an excellent job for his performance as Col. Tom Parker. He also provides narration.
Fun Fact: You probably know “Forrest Gump” inadvertently inspired Elvis to do his signature shaky leg moves. What a coincidence, Tom won his second Oscar in 1995. If he’s nominated for “Best Supporting Actor” for his role as Parker. There’s a possibility he could win a third one.
Baz Luhrmann did a great job coordinating the film. In addition to directing, he also co-wrote and co-produced it.
Musical Sequences capture Elvis’ iconic singing and dancing moments. The soundtrack recreates his tunes mixing old and new together. For instance, a mash-up with The King & Jack White singing a duet as if he were alive.
Visual Effects didn’t look cheesy or fake at all.
Baz’ rapid editing matched perfectly. Also worked in “Moulin Rouge!” He’s also known to incorporate modern music in the past. Especially the aforementioned film with Nicole Kidman & “The Great Gatsby.”
The film centers around Elvis and Parker’s careers on how they made it big in the first place. Their chemistry plays a crucial role.
The Ending will make you cry. Bring a couple of napkins.
Weak: Most of the Cinematography either has good or bad camerawork. Unnecessary extreme close-ups of Parker’s face gave me “Les Misérables” flashbacks. Could be worse, if Mr. Hanks sings like Russell Crowe.
The Final Verdict: A-
So far, Elvis is one of the best films of 2022 along with “Top Gun: Maverick,” “The Batman” & “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.” I know it’s way too early, Elvis is an Oscar worthy contender. If you’re a fan of Elvis or fascinated with biopics about famous people. Give it a shot.
R.I.P. Elvis Presley, your music lives on and continues to inspire musicians.