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Elvis Movie Review

by Robert Cain 2 months ago in review
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This glitzy, glamourous biopic is high on spectacle and low on dramatic depth.

Musical biopics have attained strong recognition in cinema with the likes of Rocketman and Bohemian Rhapsody drawing high praise from audiences. Elvis 2022 is not the first time the legend has been brought to the big screen, but it is the most high profile. It certainly delivers on the musical highlights, but ends up skipping over the dramatic elements behind the entertainment.

Starting from the beginning in the 1950s, the young Elvis Pressley (Austin Butler) teams up with Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks) and the two go on to achieve immense success and popularity in America. As a chronicle of the singer’s life from his early days to his passing, Elvis is both accurate and faithful; the audience bears witness to a personal journey that shows his blending of music from Black and Caucasian influences alongside the creative struggles he had to endure. The film offers excitement in spades, but it does burn itself out on all the extravagance. It becomes very repetitive over time; Elvis performs, the ladies scream and chant his name and the cycle continues across a bloated 159 minute runtime. The darker moments for Mr Pressley go by too quickly, especially towards the end when he slips into a cycle of drugs and exhaustion. The film is also rather unbalanced when it comes to perspective. The Colonel serves as the film’s narrator, but the story often swings back and forth between the two leads without giving either of them enough focus; as a result, we’re unable to tap into their inner thoughts and personas. Elvis Presley is an icon, but it would have been far more engaging to see more of the man behind the endless showbiz.

Portraying the king is no easy task, but Austin Butler does a splendid job when he gets up on stage. The energised movement, his powerful singing voice, it’s a primal and authentic performance. But when the curtain falls and we cut to his personal life, the material is sorely lacking. We see interactions between Elvis and those close to him but the film rarely allows time for these emotions to sink in. The intention may have been to mirror the musician’s own rollercoaster lifestyle, but it needed to get the balance right. The same is true of Tom Hanks; he’s a larger-than-life businessman, laser focused on making as much money as he can out of Elvis. Solid performance, but it doesn’t go any further than that; interactions between the Colonel and his star needed more depth to show how their working relationship became strained. Outside of these two, the side characters get the job done; Priscilla Presley (Olivia DeJonge) has the more emotional moments, though for the most part she’s placed in the background. Elvis’s parents (played by Richard Roxburgh and Helen Thomson respectively) also have some input but they’re off-screen for a good portion of the narrative. The relationships between the characters don’t have time to grow as Elvis is too focused on the overwhelming flourish of the concerts.

Baz Luhrmann has always been known for lavish productions and Elvis is no different, being loaded with dazzling aesthetics and presentation methods. Neon signs fade into the next sequence, the camera peers into the next scene through a spinning roulette wheel and locations are often plastered with a matching banner. The glitz and glamour of Presley’s time is constantly on display, immersing you in his fame and rockstar image. Of course the musical performances are the core of the package and the camera never leaves Butler as he swings and dances just like the real thing. The soundtrack will often cut between livelier releases and the blues to match the tone of a scene. All these pieces combine to make Elvis a highly arresting experience, as close as you can get to the man himself in his heyday. The film soars in these sequences, but as they pile on, you start to notice the hollow side of the production.

Elvis continues the director’s talent for visually appealing productions while respecting the entertainer at its centre. As a tribute or a package of greatest hits it delivers a rousing spectacle, but the biographical elements are shallow, overcome by the endless stage action. This is a major case of style over substance, one that will please fans but lacks the depth needed to explore the singer further.

Rating: 2.5/5 Stars (Mediocre)


About the author

Robert Cain

I'm a well-travelled blogger and writer from the UK who is looking to spread his blogs and freelance writings further afield. You can find more of my work at

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