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Film Review: Rocketman

“There Are Moments In A Rock Star’s Life That Define Who He Is. Where There Is Darkness There Is Now You, And It’s Going To Be A Wild Ride…”

Coming only months after the Academy Award for Best Actor was wrongly handed to Rami Malek for his often caricature laden and mime heavy portrayal of one of rock’s greatest singers in Bohemian Rhapsody, the story of Elton John now finds its’ way onto the big screen within Rocketman, a swear and drug heavy musical biopic which sees Taron Egerton (Robin Hood) take on the leading role for a movie which thankfully shows audiences what a decent biographical drama should look like. Directed by actor-turned-director, Dexter Fletcher, who ironically was handed the mantle of completing Bohemian Rhapsody after original director, Bryan Singer, was sacked for particular unruly pastimes, the London born filmmaker brings to life a joyous, often dazzling, celebration of rock and roll’s most loveable figure, one which blends musical arrangements with a hard-nosed examination of the rough edges of John’s early musical career, and with a whole double sided LP of top notch performances, Rocketman is a thoroughly engaging and satisfying burst of nostalgia which comes ever so close to being a work of excellence.

With Egerton in recent years attempting to throw his once promising career into the garbage with back-to-back works of sheer awfulness in the form of Kingsman: The Golden Circle and Robin Hood, Fletcher reunites with the star after their work together on Eddie the Eagle and allows the young Brit to completely immerse himself in the character of John, a career best performance which perfectly captures the inner insecurities brought on by his sexual ambiguity and non-existent relationship with both his holier-than-thou mother and absent, war-torn father. With the central performance nailed, the screenplay also allows Jamie Bell (Filth) to shine as long-term songwriting compatriot, Bernie Taupin, alongside stand-out supporting roles from the likes of Stephen Graham (Line of Duty) and Bryce Dallas Howard (Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom) as John’s unbelievably self-obsessed mother, and with the narrative itself played back in almost dream like fashion, this allows the movie to indulge itself in dramatic absurdities as it crosses paths between A Star is Born and La La Land as we are treated to excellently choreographed set pieces which tweak the most famous of John’s back catalogue in order to expand upon his youthful endeavours. Whilst the movie is at least twenty five minutes too long and fails to maintain its’ wondrous sensibility throughout, Rocketman is a lavish and extreme work of musical delirium which will suit both Elton John obsessives and those somehow unaware of his music alike.

 Overall Score: 7/10

Film Review: Cinderella

The Little Glass Slipper

“Not another remake of a Disney classic in order to tear the little money we have away from us”, I hear you all scream! And to be fair, before watching Kenneth Branagh’s “re-imagining” of the well-known fairy tale, I had that exact view, even after being pleasantly surprised of it having a cast that includes Game of Thrones’ Richard Madden, Cate Blanchett, Stellan Skarsgård and the always brilliant Helena Bonham Carter. My pretty pessimistic view of Cinderella was soon put to bed however, with the film succeeding in being everything that I wanted it to be, whilst simultaneously reminding me of my childhood where Disney films played a constant, and important, part of my early cinematic years. 

As everyone knows the story behind Cinderella there is really not much point in giving a plot synopsis, but I will say how happy I was at seeing how much the film stuck to the original telling from the 1950’s animated classic, something of which has seen to sway away from “re-tellings” recently such as within Into the Woods, which although wasn’t terrible, didn’t really do it for me in attempting to do something a slightly bit different. Sometimes sticking to your roots isn’t such a bad thing, and I think that is one of the reasons the new Cinderella is so strong. Yes, everyone knows the story, but I would rather the film stuck to the story everyone knew instead of heading in a completely different direction, particularly when it is such a beloved fairy tale such as this. Bonus points for that then.

Even more bonus points for the casting too, with Lily James doing a rather grand job in such an iconic role, supported by the ever-smiling Richard Madden as the spouse-searching Prince Kit, and the ever-evil Cate Blanchett who once again shines as an actress, chewing up the scenery as the evil stepmother, Lady Tremaine. For the short time she is on screen, Helena Bonham Carter as the Fairy Godmother (of course) also shows why she is the go-to kooky character actress too, shoving down the scenery instead of chewing it, only adding more evidence to my opinion that she should just move to a world ran by Tim Burton and Disney. To be honest, I would probably move there too. 

In conclusion, Cinderella beat all my previous expectations of it hands-down, proving that if done correctly, a story as strong as Ella and her glass slipper, can never be broken. Not only is the casting spot on, but the pretty much perfect runtime maintains its’ sense of sheer wonder throughout, ending on a note that can only make you leave the cinema smiling. If there ever was a blueprint for future live-action Disney remakes, then Cinderella has surely secured itself as just that. Cinderella, you can go to the ball.

Overall Score: 8/10