ROGER THOMAS FILM REVIEW: ‘Rocketman’: A musical ride at the cinema

Published 8:55 am Thursday, June 13, 2019

Movies about musicians are back again — if they ever left.

In 2016, a great musical came across the screen. It won six Academy Awards but failed to receive the Oscar for “Best Picture.” I was disappointed, but I do believe the musical “La La Land” inspired other filmmakers.

That was a good thing for musicians and filmmakers.

Roger Thomas

Two year later, at the Oscars on Feb. 24, 2019, two musicals were fighting for the top prize. Those two films were “A Star Is Born” and “Bohemian Rhapsody.”

Both of the movies used music in creative ways and both were worthy to be nominated.

By the end of the ceremonies, “Rhapsody” had won the most Oscars of the evening, but did not get the grand prize. That was awarded to “Green Book.”

I was pleased, because I loved “Green Book,” but I do wonder when another musical will be “Best Picture of the Year.”

On the other hand there is a new musical in theaters. “Rocketman” is now playing at a theatre near almost everybody. You have probably already concluded that the film is a bio-flick about the life of Elton John.

When I watched the film, there was a lot of things that I did know about John’s life.

But let us get to the meat of the story — the music.

I grew in the era of Elton John and loved his music. The film really did not need to have a story. It would have had fun if they had just played the music. The music was just about perfect.

But there is more talent in the film than just music. The actor who plays Elton John is Taron Egerton. I did not remember him in any other films except the two “Kingsman” films. And I admit that Egerton does not look like John.

However, Egerton’s performance is fantastic. He makes the film.

But the film also has a grand story. I will not expose any of the twists in the film, but I can say that I learned a lot about the artist. I also learned something I wondered during the whole film.

“Is Elton John still alive?”

I did not know, and I will not answer that question in this review. If you do not know, that will inspire you to see the film.

One other thought about the film is this. Who would go to a film about the life of Elton John? I thought the same thing about a film story of the musicians of Queen.

I can tell you who went to “Rocketman.” I am 56. Most of the people in the theatre looked older than me.

One lady, after the film, asked me what I thought. I said I liked it a lot. I liked the creativeness in the film. I liked the characters and the actors who played them. I loved the music and I wanted to sing. However, no one would want to hear my voice. I resisted public singing since my college roommate years ago told me I could not stay in pitch. After that 40 years ago, I just sing in private.

In the last 30 years, the only musical that has won the “Best Picture Oscar” is “Chicago” for the year of 2002. The closest almost musical film for “Best Picture” over the last 20 years would probably be “Moulin Rouge” and the aforementioned “La La Land.”

So the next time you are looking for a musical, look at one of the recent ones or one a little older. Oscar has honored many great movies, songs and musical themes over these 91 years.

May Oscar and music continue to dance together.

And go see one of the best films of the year, “Rocketman.”

Roger W. Thomas of Albemarle reviews films for The Stanly News & Press.