Baz Luhrmann, Sam Bromell, Craig Pearce
Tom Hanks, Austin Butler, Olivia DeJonge
Biography, Drama, Music
Rated: PG-13 for some violence and strong language
All media used courtesy of Warner Brothers
Elvis is the newest rockstar biography centered mostly around Elvis Presley and his relationship with his manager, known as “The Colonel”. We see Elvis’s rise to fame, his talents taken advantage of for money, and the results of what money, power, and fame can do not only to the performers but to the ones who are benefitting financially from the performers. While this isn’t a new concept we’ve seen explored in other films like Walk The Line, Bohemian Rhapsody, and Rocketman; what sets Elvis apart is in its terrific performance from Austin Butler, as well as the signature style of Baz Luhrmann.
Austin Butler gives a completely immersive performance as Elvis Presley. Not only is he singing in this film but his physical movements, voice, and everything is channeling the icon in a way that is jaw-dropping. This is a performance I can see carrying Butler into awards season, and certainly, if anything were to be nominated for this film, it would be him. Tom Hanks narrated the film as The Colonel, who meets Elvis very early into his career. Much can be said about their relationship and what contributed to Elvis deteriorating in his later career, but Hanks has a difficult time portraying that through the prosthetics and accent.
Baz Luhrmann was the right choice to adapt this story, his eye for glitz and glamour paired with the lights of Las Vegas is a match made in heaven. Some of the editing felt dizzying but are almost perfect in the beginning scenes switching between Elvis as a child and his first on-stage performance. The main issue with the film is it’s reliant on familiar story beats that could’ve been punched up more by Baz Luhrmann, but instead plays it safer, and less unique.
Overall, Elvis is still a win in my book. Austin Butler is absolutely worth checking out on the big screen and will likely steal your spot for best actor this year. With a more generic story paired with the visual style of Baz Luhrmann, go in expecting lights, spectacle, and wiggling of all sorts.