review by Bobby Blakey
Director Baz Luhrmann has had some unique visions of classics including Romeo & Juliet, Moulin Rouge! and The Great Gatzby. Now he has teamed up with Tom Hanks and Austin Butler to take one the life and career of the biggest music icon of all time Elvis. The film features a great cast including Olivia DeJonge, Helen Thomson, Richard Roxburgh, Luke Bracey, Natasha Bassett, David Wenham, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Xavier Samuel, Kodi Smit-McPhee, Dacre Montgomery, Leon Ford, Kate Mulvany, Gareth Davies, Charles Grounds, Josh McConville and Adam Dunn. Can this film do the King’s legacy justice or will you prefer it leaves the building?
Elvis follows Elvis’s story seen through the prism of his complicated relationship with his enigmatic manager, Colonel Tom Parker. As told by Parker, the film delves into the complex dynamic between the two spanning over 20 years, from Presley’s rise to fame to his unprecedented stardom, against the backdrop of the evolving cultural landscape and loss of innocence in America. Central to that journey is one of the significant and influential people in Elvis’s life, Priscilla Presley.
I want to start out by saying I am not a fan of Elvis in any way. I know the songs and history, but just never understood the overall appeal. Despite that I love films about real life figures and seeing their journey. There have been other films taking on the life of Elvis with the most notable being the 1979 John Carpenter film starring Kurt Russell. Taking on this icon of music who is also very specific in his mannerisms and voice is no easy feat, but to say that Butler was up to the challenge is an understatement.
Butler is insanely good here to the point there are times that you cannot tell
the difference from him and the real guy. He has put in an insane amount of work to perfect this performance and it show son every level. The walking, talking and singing is hard enough, but without being able to capture the essence and moves of his stager performance it would have been lost, but he is all in and embodies him to perfection.
While this is the story of Elvis I love that it is being told through the eyes of Tom Parker played brilliantly by Tom Hanks. It is really know surprise that Hanks is good here, but he disappears into the prosthetics and becomes Parker in all his sleazy glory. OF course you can tell its Hanks as that is almost impossible to hide, but it didn’t take me long to stop seeing him and fully invest in the character and his story. They could have easily made it a sympathetic tale on the known horrible human, but instead walked a fine line down the middle to just tell the truth of the story with his narration and vision leading the charge. It gave it a fresh vision that I appreciate as opposed to just the usual straight forward biopic.
The film is filled with all of the iconic performances and visuals that fans love taking you through an emotional and historical story that takes on more than just the music industry. There were so many major history events that occurred through his career and they did a great job not only placing them in there, but showing how they affected Elvis big and small. There are some great split screen moments that showcase the real Elvis and Butler’s performance side by side and it is insane in the best way possible. They are epic in execution and entertaining all around.
Outside of the main cast Luhrmann cast singer/songwriter Yola as Sister Rosetta Tharpe, model Alton Mason as Little Richard, Austin, Texas native Gary Clark Jr. as Arthur Crudup, and artist Shonka Dukureh as Willie Mae “Big Mama” Thornton. While all of these were smaller roles they were important to the history and legacy of the man.
This is a damn good film that might not change my feelings on Elvis as a fan, but made me love his story here in this film. Butler isn’t so much a newcomer as he has been around, but if there was ever a performance that takes an actor to the next level this is it. Whether you are a fan of the King of Rock and Roll or like me just love a good biopic, this is a must see film.
In addition to the film this release offers up bonus content including featurettes and more bringing the life and career of this music icon to life. Step onto the stage and grab your copy of Elvis available now on digital, 4K, Blu-ray and DVD on from Warner Home Entertainment.