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Is The Elvis Biopic Movie The Definitive Version Of The Rock & Roll Legend’s Rise And Fall?

Director Baz Luhrmann is at it again with a spectacle-filled music-laced number, but instead of a burlesque group in the 1900s and an adaptation of a revered novel, it’s now the life and times of the king of rock ‘n roll Elvis Presley simply titled Elvis.

It’s clear as day that Baz mixes his theatre background with his music video-style of editing in his films. From a visual standpoint, the film can be hard to follow at times, but the cuts and edits in Elvis are what can be described as organized chaos. It may seem out of place and order, but they all make sense in the grand scheme of things within its runtime.

A Little Less Conversation

That’s a lot of info to digest about the legendary singer’s rise to fame (Austin Butler), his background, his relationship with African American music culture, and his on-and-off relationship with his manager “The Colonel” Tom Parker (Tom Hanks). The latter character takes spotlight in Baz’s production, as he is the yang to Elvis’ yin, though both are more similar than they would admit. Both real-life characters are portrayed well, mannerisms and all, to a tee thanks to Austin Butler and Tom Hanks’ performances.

The film really needed the both of them to anchor the whole film, and they did the film justice for the most parts. One can argue if this version of Elvis is the one that is living in our imaginations, but he’s portrayed with both fact and myth in mind. He’s a great singer who adores his audience, but he has his vices too. The Colonel is definitely not innocent, but he’s always been there through thick and thin. While I could use a bit more insight and detail with one character over the other -there’s more of that with The Colonel than with Elvis- we’re given enough to work with while we interpret all of it after the 2 hour and 30 minutes plus runtime.

You’re The Devil In Disguise

Yeah, the length of the film is questionable. So too are some of the transition choices at the start of the show that felt a bit off in the first third of the film. In fact, the film feels a bit excessive and long-winded at parts, where you just want to jump to the 1958 controversy and the 1970s slow decline of his career that defines the term “gilded cage” rather aptly. There’s a lot of glitz and glamour that make the film wholly flashy and hip, but at the same time it can be a bit much even if its intentions are to highlight the facade the title character is putting up. Some scenes could at least be amplified, particularly the ones behind-the-scenes, but Baz’s directing choices do get in the way in adding a bit more substance and introspection.

It’s better than nothing, when you think about it. This is as good as you can get with a show featuring Elvis Presley, a man with so many twists and turns wrought in his life who complements his manager-slash-friend-slash-enemy The Colonel. It’s not as surface level as I thought it might be, and Baz did justice to The King’s fun-and-drama-filled lifestyle and show-stopping performances. You may have to dig deep and endure the runtime to see the show for what it is: a celebration and hard look at the man who did his time in show business.

Final Score: 70/100

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  1. Elvis Premieres Next Week On HBO GO In Malaysia & Asia

    August 26, 2022 at 7:18 pm

    […] In the meantime, check out our review of Elvis here. […]

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