Elton John biopic "Rocketman"

Discussion in 'Visual Arts' started by Jason Manley, Feb 21, 2019.

  1. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    Yes, it is meant as entertainment. To that effect, I feel that it had accomplished its objective.

    Both the critics and the audiences on Rotten Tomatoes seem to both agree, and are within 1% of each other in their affirmative consensus.

    And that is with 354, critical reviews and 21,644 audience reviews. Pretty close to nine out of ten, both liked this entertaining movie.

    mrjinks, onm3rcur7 and Veni Vidi Vici like this.
  2. Whizz Kid

    Whizz Kid Forum Resident

    I do get all that... I'm not trying to be contrary for the sake of arguing.
    The arty-farty fantasy thing could have worked for me... and (some of) the music being out of sequence is not a dealbreaker.

    But why (???) did they go to the trouble to get some things so right (correct 1970s sets / correct costumes / correct glasses / correct studio gear etc)... and most parts of the basic story... only to leave these other glaring / ridiculous factual errors in the film? That's what I don't get. :confused:

    As everyone is rightly pointing out... Elton himself was involved in the production and had final approval... so he is ultimately responsible for the result. That's probably my biggest problem with the whole thing... that the omissions and mistakes and the posthumous dig at his mum are all on him... which, as a longtime fan, I find disappointing.

    I know I'm overthinking it... but there we go. I'm glad that most of you enjoyed it for what it is... but I still choose not to.
    TheSeldomSeenKid likes this.
  3. onm3rcur7

    onm3rcur7 Forum Resident

    Perth, Scotland
    Ok, so the film arrived and said to my partner to watch it with me. Not considering myself a fan I thought, hey, maybe i'll enjoy it for what it is. But no. You are right. Both of us lost interest within 20 min. Awful film although i do think the actor did a good job .
    Drifter likes this.
  4. Siegmund

    Siegmund Vinyl Sceptic

    Britain, Europe
    Still not seen the whole thing but have seen bits of it. Most good, but the scene where his family break out singing I Want Love was embarrrassing, imo.
    vegafleet likes this.
  5. MadMelMon

    MadMelMon Forum Resident

    That's the only part that really made me cringe. I get why it's there, but oof.
  6. Siegmund

    Siegmund Vinyl Sceptic

    Britain, Europe
    From the clips I’ve seen, it looks like he gives his parents both barrels. I’ve no doubt they had their faults but as neither of them can answer back, this doesn’t strike me as a classy move.
  7. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    Maybe not, but neither was his parents attitude toward him as a child.

    They had their turn and now, Elton has his turn.

    What goes around, comes around.
  8. Siegmund

    Siegmund Vinyl Sceptic

    Britain, Europe
    Maybe so, but to hold up your deceased parents to public scorn in a film that will be seen by millions of people doesn’t say much for Mr. Dwight.

    If they’d been viciously abusive and neglectful, he might have been justified. But he’s never claimed that they were. And his main quarrel with his mother seemed to be that she maintained a friendship with John Reid long after Elont had cast him into outer darkness.
    Whizz Kid likes this.
  9. SandAndGlass

    SandAndGlass Twilight Forum Resident

    Not having been there, I can't comment. But clearly, Elton was there and clearly has his opinion.
  10. Whizz Kid

    Whizz Kid Forum Resident

    This is the point I was making before... the treatment of Elton's mother in the film is a vindictive hit job... not cool at all.

    In every interview / written account going back to 1970, the narrative about his parents was consistently the same... yes, his father was a cold and distant figure who was disinterested and dismissive of his son's musical aspirations... while his mother was nothing but supportive. He always spoke fondly of her... and vice versa. She turned up in many many video clips and documentaries... always shown in a positive light.

    The fact that they had a falling out in later years... allegedly over his personal life choices and his attempts to dictate who she could and couldn't talk to... should not translate into rewriting history about his entire life. That just comes across as petty and cruel... not to mention disingenuous. This is what makes the film unbelievable... and unwatchable... for me.
    Siegmund likes this.
  11. Siegmund

    Siegmund Vinyl Sceptic

    Britain, Europe
    As with Whizz Kid’s post above, Elton seems to have ‘changed’ his opinion of his mother quite late in life. In his heyday, they were very close, she woud travel on tour with him and he never had a word to say against her. Her portrayal in the film seems to reflect his latterday disenchantment with her and leaves a sour taste because it looks like he’s just being vindictive.

    Does Sheila Dwight really deserve the Murray Wilson treatment? I think not.
    Whizz Kid likes this.
  12. David Campbell

    David Campbell Forum Resident

    Luray, Virginia
    Strangely enough Stanley Dwight comes off just a tad bit more likable than Sheila in the movie, which took me aback when I saw it first. If you read Elton's autobiography it seems Sheila was complicated but she was supportive and loving towards him for most of his life,even though she had a temper which he even admits is a trait he shares with her.

    It seems around the time Elton got sober and met David Furnish,Sheila apparently eventually changed and got more prickly and cold,with tensions building between Elton and her that eventually blew up with the whole screaming match involving Bob Hailey's firing. Elton wanted her to stop speaking to him, Sheila made some disparaging remarks about Furnish and that was that until Elton attempted to reconcile with her before her passing. It was a begrudging reconcilation on her part and apparently her last words to him at their last meeting before she died was "I love you, but I don't like you very much."

    We have to keep in mind that yes,Elton approved the film,but Furnish was pretty much the point man on the project. It's no secret that Elton's mom disliked Furnish for whatever reason and I'm assuming the feeling was mutual. Add the fact he wasn't around during his 70s heyday when she and Elton were close and could witness that part of their relationship and only knew the woman and her dynamic with Elton from later in life , and it's through that prism the the script was written,which explains how she seems in the movie.

    Same can be said for John Reid. It's no secret he could be a complete tool,but he was almost supervillain level evil in this movie, portrayed as if he was a greedy predator who used Elton . From even reading Elton's biography you get a sense that Reid and his relationship with Elton,both initially as partners and then eventually just his manager was far more nuanced. Elton still speaks overall well of their time together up until their falling out, which was over money. I imagine Furnish never cared for Reid and since the film needed a clear antagonist,he was made to fit that role.
    Last edited: Dec 16, 2019
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  13. MadMelMon

    MadMelMon Forum Resident

    I'm glad you posted this, since it crystallized a few things I couldn't quite articulate. His mother doesn't come off especially well, but you (or at least I) get the sense that there's a decent person in there who just didn't quite grasp that she was taking her crappy domestic situation out on her son.

    Dad was unquestionably a jerk, but the kind of jerk that is clearly trying to control a lot of anger. Not to being too much of myself into this situation, but I had (hopefully past tense) very similar issues in that I had such severe rage in me 24/7 that some days, being a stern dickhead was the best I could do. It was at its heart a moral decision between two evils: either be curt and distant, or unleash irrational anger on someone I knew didn't deserve it. Doesn't come within several miles of excusing what I did, but it did make me slightly more sympathetic to Elton's dad.

    Until the scene where he asked Elton to sign the record. That guy gets no sympathy from me AT ALL.

    So far as John Reid...maybe I'm cynical, but from my (admittedly limited) experience guys in his position rarely if ever deserve much sympathy. You don't get to that level of power by being nice, which frequently if not always spills over into personal situations. I don't know enough about their relationship to comment on whether the physical violence had any basis in reality, but I'm not inclined to be charitable.

    I will admit that the historical inaccuracies made me twitch ever so slightly from time to time, but ultimately my attitude can be summed up by the line in Liberty Valence: when the legend becomes fact, print the legend. Horrible journalism, but it IS good storytelling, and when a movie has people levitating and morphing into literal rocket ships, I'm comfortable taking everything with a large pile of salt and playing along.

    That said, being unfair to people is still being unfair, and the only thing I truly have an issue with is the exclusion of Baldry. Not mentioning him is one thing, but actively replacing him with John Lennon as the source of Reg's name change is not cool. Wasn't Baldry the someone in Someone Saved My Life Tonight? Come on, man.

    One thing I think the film did very well, although it's not immediately obvious, is that it doesn't let Elton off the hook. He's still clearly a jerk. The scene where he's crying into the mirror singing Goodbye YBR is incredible: you feel for this person as a human being who is watching his life get progressively more rancid, but well...what did you expect, dude? You're not exactly a good person. It's easy to miss this I think, since we all love Elton and we know how he got that way. But we've also seen him treat Bernie like ****, put the people around him through hell, and respond to reasonable criticisms with contempt and arrogance. Egerton deserves a freakin' Oscar for somehow making him a sympathetic figure while he's being arrogant and passive-aggressive to his therapist in the group sessions.

    To end on a positive note, I actually choked up a bit at a very small moment in the film: when his stepfather said that if he was going to be a rock star, he needed a different haircut. It was only a quick second, but it showed that he had a parental figure who took his aspirations seriously, or was at least willing to give them a nudge and play along.
  14. David Campbell

    David Campbell Forum Resident

    Luray, Virginia
    His stepdad and grandmum were always very supportive. He's always spoke highly of them both then and now.

    And yes the movie pulls no punches with EJ. He could be a complete a-hole (and arguably can still be under the right circumstances) and it doesn't sugar coat it. Props to EJ that he didn't whitewash himself.
    SandAndGlass and MadMelMon like this.
  15. HenryH

    HenryH Miserable Git

    Yeah, for me that was probably the oddest element of the film. I went in anticipating if and how Baldry would be depicted, and instead they seemed to rewrite him out of Elton's history. Although, I wondered if that was done to simplify the story to some extent since Baldry would have had to become a noted character in the movie.

    Also, I believe that is why Elton's band didn't get an acknowledgement. That element of his life/career wasn't a part of the intended story.
    MadMelMon likes this.
  16. MadMelMon

    MadMelMon Forum Resident

    That's a good point. There are so many people who didn't get an acknowledgement, but Elton's story isn't like Freddie Mercury, who worked with one set group of people for the vast majority of his career. There are so many phases and eras that even if every important person got a nod, it would be a drawn out mess. They can't even hit every superstar: no mention of his relationships with Mercury, John Lennon, Princess Di, George Michael, Rod Stewart...all those happened well within the time frame of the film. His excesses defy even basic attempts to sum them up adequately, especially over time.
    SandAndGlass and HenryH like this.
  17. alexpop

    alexpop Power pop + other bad habits....

    Just watched the dvd ( 5.00).
    Didn’t like the biopic.
    Story very cut n paste, production looked cheap.
    Richard Madden was good.
    And the soundtrack awful.
    Love the original singles /albums.
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2020
    Drifter and Bill like this.
  18. Bobby Morrow

    Bobby Morrow Forum Resident

    I’m about t0 start watching this tonight!
  19. crazywater

    crazywater Dangerous Dreamer...

    Rolesville, NC
    Don't expect a documentary. It's really loose with facts, timeline. After several viewings I now enjoy it.
    audiomixer likes this.
  20. audiomixer

    audiomixer As Bald As The Beatles

    :laughup: :unhunh:
    vegafleet likes this.
  21. alexpop

    alexpop Power pop + other bad habits....

  22. Bobby Morrow

    Bobby Morrow Forum Resident

    Have watched the first 40 minutes. Elton singing songs like I Want Love and I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues decades before he actually wrote them. :D I’m a little distracted by the well-known actors who are playing the roles of Elton’s associates... I keep thinking why is ‘Billy Elliot’ pretending to be Bernie Taupin?:) It’s fun though. I think Bohemian Rhapsody- another film with a wandering timeline - did a better job of getting the story across and used the songs to a better advantage...Even though I prefer Elton’s music to Queen’s.

    Still have 80 minutes to watch, though.
    audiomixer likes this.
  23. alexpop

    alexpop Power pop + other bad habits....

    A day later your still watching it. On pause I gather. :)
  24. Bobby Morrow

    Bobby Morrow Forum Resident

    I’ll probably watch it in 3 hits.
  25. audiomixer

    audiomixer As Bald As The Beatles

    Yes. Streaming or DVRs do “pause” shows where you left off. :D

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