Title – Elvis (2022)
Director – Baz Luhrmann (Australia)
Cast – Austin Butler, Tom Hanks, Olivia DeJonge, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Richard Roxburgh, David Wenham
Plot – Examines the life of famed singer Elvis Presley (Butler) and his complicated relationship with long term manager Colonel Tom Parker (Hanks).
“If I can’t move, I can’t sing”
Review by Eddie on 24/06/2022
Yep, Elvis is certainly a Baz Luhrmann movie.
With no if, buts or maybe’s about it, divisive Australian director Luhrmann ensures his passion project to bring the life of famed music superstar Elvis Presley to the big screen is entirely his beast with the traditional musical biopic playbook turned on its head thanks to Luhrmann and his teams unstoppable artistry coming thick and fast through the entirety of this two and a half hour epic.
Whether you’re a die-hard Presley fan or merely a keen cinemagoer looking for your next dose of movie magic, your enjoyment of Luhrmann’s over the top, excessive but often thrilling and impressive examination of the iconic rock n roll singer will depend almost entirely on how you feel about Luhrmann’s style and how much you tolerate Elvis’s delivery that will likely divide fairly evenly between love and hate from audience members.
From the moment the film starts with Tom Hank’s fat suit wearing Colonel Tom Parker guiding us through the beginnings of the film, camera whizzing up and down and all around across the Vegas cityscape and Luhrmann almost knocking his audience out with an abundance of editing, sounds and sights, Elvis proudly embraces its style and delivery and makes no apologies for it and while it doesn’t always work (much like all of Luhrmann’s previous films), there’s some undeniably fantastic moments conjured up, moments that only someone as daring as Luhrmann could have conjured into existence.
For such an incredibly well-known, loved and iconic figure of human history, an artist that changed fandom and the industry in ways in which very few ever have or will likely do, Elvis Presley deserves a big film and you can’t deny that with this product Luhrmann has delivered in spades while the career making performance of the relatively unknown Austin Butler as The King is worth the price of admission alone.
Facing scrutiny from various angles pre-release, mainly due to some taking issue with Butler not looking “exactly” like the singer, after laying witness to Butler’s embodiment of Presley in the finished product here there’s not a reason to be found for anyone to think another actor could have possibly done a better job across Presley’s various ups and downs and when watching Butler shake his body in typical Presley fashion (vice squad be damned), belt out iconic tunes or battle with his notorious manager, you know you’re watching a star be born before your very eyes.
With a lot to like about the exuberantly excitable film, there’s some fairly glaring issues holding Elvis back from the top-tier of biopics and one of the largest issues comes in the form of the usually reliable Hanks as The Colonel, who almost feels like his a comical caricature of the real life manager and his turn was in need of a dialling back or reworking with numerous occasions in the film unable to reach their potential when you’re too busy being distracted by Hank’s OTT turn.
Another element to the film that feels like a missed opportunity is the key relationship and romance between Presley and Priscilla (played by Australian Olivia DeJonge) with little build up and even less exploration once Priscilla comes onto the scene, it’s almost as if Luhrmann was unsure of how he would give time to the two Presley’s as his heart and soul was set on shining the spotlight on Elvis and The Colonel, missing emotional payoffs in his feature that still manages to knock it out of the park in the final stretches were Butler’s performance takes centre stage in a big way and the real sadness of Presley’s demise comes to the forefront.
Final Say –
A Luhrmann film through and through but also one of most accessible films yet from the divisive filmmaker, it’s hard to imagine anyone else tackling the story of Elvis in such a way, a way that makes this film a thoroughly enjoyable one and a launching pad for the likely superstardom of its lead Austin Butler.
3 ½ pinky fingers out of 5