Friday, July 15, 2022


Starring: Austin Butler, Tom Hanks, Olivia DeJonge, Kodi Smit-McPhee
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Running Time: 2 hours, 39 minutes
Rating: PG-13

If you know me, you know I'm a bit of an Elvis fanatic. He was my first crush, my first introduction to "movie musicals" and I still turn up his jams from time to time. I had very high hopes when I heard that one of my favorite directors, Baz Luhrmann, had attached himself to the new "Elvis" movie. I was also super into the casting of Austin Butler (who I've loved since the awful and short-lived "The Carrie Diaries" back in 2013). Let's go ahead and give the man the Oscar. I dare you to disagree with me. He was SPECTACULAR. Honestly, if he decided to go out on tour as Elvis, I would pay good money to see that show. For the most part, I was very pleased with the film. Did I absolutely love it? Sadly, no, but it had a pretty difficult bar to reach. But honestly, if you attach Elvis' name to anything, I'm going to watch it.

Just a few pics of me and the King over the years!

Hunk of burning love!

Can't help falling in love!

Paying my respects.

Luhrmann's signature directing style is a bit over the top (see "Moulin Rouge!", "Romeo + Juliet") so I expected nothing less here. However, I wish he had shown a bit more restraint in the first 30 minutes. I felt the editing and cinematography were all over the place, jumping back and forth from Elvis' childhood to later years, with manic close-ups and zoom shots. At times, I had to look away from the screen to prevent being disoriented. The film eventually finds its footing and calms down a bit, allowing me to focus more on the story and performances.

It's clear that Luhrmann presents Colonel Tom Parker as the antagonist, and it's a pretty unbiased opinion that he and he alone caused Elvis' demise. Tom Hanks brilliantly portrays this nefarious character because every time he came on screen, I cringed. This character is a dispicable human, taking advantage of Elvis' naiveté in his youth, and introducing him to uppers to keep him up, and downers to keep him down in his later years. I'm not entirely sure how accurate this is, but its nice to have someone to blame for the downfall of such an influential and incredible artist.

The film touches only briefly on his successful-turned-flailing film career, and it doesn't give hardly any attention to the many, many affairs he had with co-stars, particularly his infamous affair with Ann-Margret during the filming of "Viva Las Vegas". The film does shine a light on his passion for gospel music, and the influence that many Black artists had on him. It would be impossible to include every interesting facet about this man's life in a film under 3 hours, but they managed to squeeze in a lot.

I appreciated the few scenes that felt like an actual concert - Butler's embodiment of Presley is other-wordly - and I admit I got emotional at the end, seeing brief footage of the real Elvis, and his unfortunate, long fall from grace. Fans will be covered in chills seeing these clips, and I would have loved to see more. Whether or not you're an Elvis fanatic like me, this is an entertaining movie for sure. Just give it a minute to find its footing and welcome Austin Butler as a household name.

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