Rocketman 4K/Blu Ray Review (Paramount)
Rocketman is a 2019 biographical musical film directed by actor Dexter Fletcher (Bohemian Rhapsody, Wild Bill, Eddie the Eagle, & Sunshine on Leith). Development for this project started in the early 90s with Disney. David LaChapelle was going to direct & Justin Timberlake was going to star as Elton John. They wanted a clean PG-13 movie so Elton John moved the property to Focus Features. Michael Gracey was going to direct & Tom Hardy was going to star as Elton John. Everything fell through & Rocketman was picked up by Paramount Pictures. It was written by Lee Hall (Billy Elliot, War Horse, & Cats). It was produced by Elton John, Matthew Vaughn (Kick-Ass 1/2, Kingsman franchise, Fantastic Four, Layer Cake, & Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels), Brian Oliver (Hacksaw Ridge, Black Mass, Legend, Clown, & Black Swan), & Michael Gracey (The Greatest Showman & Naruto). The budget was $40 million & it grossed $190.4 million worldwide at the box office!!!!
Elton John (played by: Taron Egerton from Kingsman franchise, Robin Hood, Legend, & Billionaire Boys Club) enters an addiction rehabilitation session & recounts his life in a flashback (“The Bitch Is Back”). Young Elton who was born as Reginald Dwight (played by: Matthew Illesley) grows up in 1950s Britain. He is raised by his cold & unaffectionate mother Sheila (played by: Bryce Dallas Howard from Jurassic World franchise, Terminator Salvation, Spider-Man 3, & The Village) & his loving grandmother Ivy (played by: Gemma Jones from the Harry Potter franchise, Bridget Jones’s Diary franchise, Shanghai Knights, & The Devils). His father, Stanley (played by: Steven Mackintosh from the Underworld franchise, Kick-Ass 2, The Sweeney, & The Jacket) serves in the Royal Air Force & is mostly absent from home. Reginald is interested in music & piano. He discovers his ability to “play by ear”. He hopes to perform for his father upon his return but Stanley takes no interest in his son nor his talent (“I Want Love”). Reginald begins formal training with Ivy’s support & eventually makes his way into the Royal Academy of Music. Stanley leaves the family after Sheila has an affair with another man. Reginald (played by: Kit Connor from Slaughterhouse Rulez, Ready Player One, & His Dark Materials) gets interested in rock music & starts performing in local pubs (“Saturday Night’s Alright”). Reginald joins the band Bluesology & they are hired to play backup for a touring American soul band.
One of its singers recommends that Reginald write some songs, change his name, put his old life behind him & start new if he wants to become a famous professional artist. This inspires Reginald to change his name to Elton John. Elton begins writing music & tries to find success with Dick James’ (played by: Stephen Graham from Hellboy, The Irishman, Boardwalk Empire, & Pirates of the Caribbean franchise) record label DJM Records under the management of Ray Williams (played by: Charlie Rowe from Salvation, Pirate Radio, The Nutcracker in 3D, & The Golden Compass). Williams introduces Elton to songwriter Bernie Taupin (played by: Jamie Bell from Fantastic Four, Jumper, Snowpiercer, & King Kong) & they quickly form a friendship (“Border Song”). Elton’s former partners in the soul band out him as homosexual but Bernie is disinterested in his partner’s sexuality & they live together to keep working on music. They create “Your Song” & James sets up a performance for them at the Troubadour in Los Angeles. They are greeted by Doug Weston (played by: Tate Donovan from Damages, Blood Fest, Argo, & Friends). Elton is nervous but opens with “Crocodile Rock” & the crowd loves it. Elton’s feelings of loneliness abandonment return when Bernie leaves him to spend time with a woman (“Tiny Dancer”). He is approached by John Reid (played by: Richard Madden from Game of Thrones, The Take, & Cinderella), a music manager attracted to Elton. They sleep together & reunite later (“Take Me to the Pilot”). Reid’s influence over Elton launches a downward spiral into a life of debauchery even as his career rises to new heights (“Hercules/Don’t Go Breaking My Heart”).
Elton develops a flamboyant, over-the-top stage persona that makes him into one of the most successful artists of the 1970s (“Honky Cat”). Reid’s manipulation and control increases into outright abuse after Elton appoints him his new manager. Elton tries to reconnect with his father. He notices that he changed for his two other sons but still doesn’t act that way towards him. Elton tells his mother that he is gay but she says she already knew. Elton gets addicted to alcohol & drugs. (“Pinball Wizard”) He is always fighting with Reid & he ends up trying to kill himself. He is rushed to the hospital, then thrust onstage at Dodger Stadium to perform (“Rocket Man”). Elton descends further into a life of drugs, alcohol, & loneliness (“Bennie and the Jets”). He has a short-lived marriage with a close female friend Renate (played by: Celinde Schoenmaker) but his homosexuality dooms this relationship (“Don’t Let the Sun Go Down on Me”). He falls out with his mother (“Sorry Seems to Be the Hardest Word”) & Bernie. Elton’s dependence on prescription pills & alcohol result in a heart attack. He is again rushed to the hospital, but Reid shrugs it off as a mild chest infection & forces Elton back onstage for his next performance. Realizing that his life is spiraling out of control, Elton leaves Madison Square Garden before the concert & seeks help (“Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”). He enters rehabilitation, he realizes he no longer needs support & approval from his parents or Reid. Elton rekindles his friendship with Bernie, who brings him new song lyrics to try and help him back in action. At first, Elton is worried that he cannot perform or compose without alcohol or drugs as a crutch but Bernie has confidence in him. Elton writes “I’m Still Standing” & returns to a successful career. Elton has been sober for over 28 years but he “still has a problem with shopping”. He remains good friends with Bernie & he is happy with his new family.
Rocketman? I bet some people when they hear the name, they think it might be a new Marvel or DC film. L O L When I think about that name & song, one thing comes to mind & that’s the hilarious scene from “The Rock”. Elton John has done so much music for various cinema over the years which includes The Lost Boys, Dog Day Afternoon, Rocky V, Lethal Weapon 3, The Entity, My Girl 2, The Lion King, The Rock, Almost Famous, Rush Hour 3, Ted 2, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, & many others! Now it was time for Hollywood to make a feature about the living legend. Bio pics for recording artists have been very popular over the years especially since Bohemian Rhapsody was released. Director Dexter Fletcher actually did re-shoots & completed that film after Singer was fired from it. So I kinda expected Rocketman to be like that but I was 100% wrong about that & the overall experience took me by surprise. It has a decent amount of fantasy & goes past his reality here plus it’s a full on musical. I am not talking about a song or two, it’s everywhere in Rocketman. I am not going to lie, I don’t really like musicals but I am a huge fan of Elton John so that helped a lot. The script was great & it covered most of his important moments in life. Visually it looked amazing, the cinematography is top notch in this. Taron Egerton gives a breakout performance as Elton John. He proves that he is much more than an action star with this project. I am beyond impressed with his skills as a singer, He killed it on all those classic tracks. He definitely deserves an Oscar nomination for Rocketman. The two kids that played the young version of Elton were very good here. Both Bryce Dallas Howard & Jamie Bell were so good in this that I didn’t recognize either one at first. Plus it has an amazing supporting cast which includes Stephen Graham, Charlie Rowe, Gemma Jones, Steven Mackintosh, & Richard Madden. Madden plays a much different version of Reid compared to the Bohemian Rhapsody version, he is vicious & cold hearted. Madden was very impressive as the villain. Honestly, I would have preferred a bio pic over what they did with this but I understand why. It’s stands out from all the others & it fits Elton John’s personality. I am happy that Elton John wouldn’t back down from this being Rated R & that helps out dramatically. RECOMMENDED!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation from Paramount Pictures! This 2160p (2.39:1) transfer with Dolby Vision & HDR10 looks amazing in 4K! Visually, it’s one of the most beautiful cinematic features of the year, it’s reference quality. All the different locations & outrageous costumes shine here. It’s loaded with so many audio options which includes English: Dolby Atmos, English: Dolby TrueHD 7.1, Czech: Dolby Digital 5.1, German: Dolby Atmos, Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1, French: Dolby Digital 5.1, Italian: Dolby Digital 5.1, Japanese: Dolby Digital 5.1, Hungarian: Dolby Digital 5.1, Polish: Dolby Digital 5.1, Russian: Dolby Digital 5.1, Thai: Dolby Digital 5.1, & Turkish: Dolby Digital 5.1 on this release. All the dialogue is crystal clear & the music is top notch on these tracks. As you can tell, it has lots of musical moments so this UHD disc takes advantage of every moment. It’s also loaded with various subtitles that includes English SDH, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Spanish, Czech, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Greek, Hindi, Hungarian, Icelandic, Korean, Mandarin (Simplified), Norwegian, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Slovenian, Swedish, Thai, & Turkish. Both picture & sound are very impressive on this 4K. Technically, it’s one of the best releases so far this year!!!!
Let’s discuss the special features from Paramount Pictures! None are located on the UHD disc, they are all on the blu ray. It has almost 15 minutes of “Extended Musical Numbers” which includes an optional introduction by director Dexter Fletcher. He talks about why they were edited down for the final cut. The tracks that are included are “The Bitch is Back”, “Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting)”, “Breaking Down the Walls of Heartache” & “Honky Cat”. If you were a fan of these musical scenes from the feature then you absolutely loved these extended versions. “Deleted and Extended Scenes” ends up being almost 20 minutes with 10 different scenes from the movie. It has an optional introduction by director Dexter Fletcher. He says no one has seen these until now except for him & the editor. He mentions that he knows that fans love seeing material that didn’t make it to the final cut so that’s why he included them on this release. “It’s Going to Be a Wild Ride: Creative Vision” is a little over 7 minutes. It has interviews with director Dexter Fletcher, Elton John, lead actor Taron Egerton, & various members of the production. They chat about how they got the idea for this & what really started the project. They say Elton John didn’t want a normal bio picture made about him. That’s why it’s full of fantasy & a musical. Elton talks about wanting to be real as possible about his personal problems during those years. He didn’t care how it made him look, he just wanted to be honest about his life. “Becoming Elton: Taron’s Transformation” is almost 8 minutes. It has interviews with director Dexter Fletcher, Elton John, lead actor Taron Egerton, & various members of the production. Elton says that Taron as perfect as him in this film. He seen pics of him in the role & he actually thought it was him. Taron chats about being worried playing a real person at first but he really got into the role.
He talks about having vocal training before this so singing wasn’t a big deal to him for the character. They go over Elton John’s fashion & the various he had to wear for the production. “Larger Than Life: Production Design and Costuming” is almost 9 minutes. It has interviews with director Dexter Fletcher & various members of the production. They go over a variety of different outfits from the feature. It has behind the scenes footage. They talk about the production design, “Full Tilt: Staging the Musical Numbers” is a little over 10 minutes. It has interviews with director Dexter Fletcher, actors Taron Egerton, Richard Madden, & various members of the production. It takes you behind the scenes for some of the musical numbers. They explain the exact look & style they were looking for when it came to certain songs. They go into great detail about setting them up. Madden says he was nervous about singing & dancing in this because he didn’t have much experience with either. “Music Reimagined: The Studio Sessions” is a little over 11 minutes. It has interviews with director Dexter Fletcher, Elton John, lead actor Taron Egerton, & various members of the production. It shows them recording the songs for the film in the recording studio. It takes you behind the scenes on how they used it during the production. Elton John gives high praises to Taron Egerton on his performances with his music. He says he was the only one that could play him in this. They chat about not wanting to have them as cover songs & when you heard them in the actual movie that they would have their own feel to them. “Rocketman Lyric Companion: Sing Along with Select Songs” is almost 36 minutes. It offers “subtitles” so you can go along with the music. “Rocketman Juke Box” is almost 53 minutes & it features all musical sequences from Rocketman. This was released on Blu Ray & DVD besides this 4K release including a few store exclusives. It’s available right now, CHECK IT OUT!!!!