Elvis Reviews Praises Butler’s Movie Acting and Visuals (But Not Much Else)
Critics have fallen for Baz Luhrmann Elvis, with critics expressing their thoughts on the legendary rock icon’s first cinematic biopic. Tracing the life and career of Elvis Presley (Austin Butler) from his early years to his international status as the “King of Rock and Roll”, the film will also explore Presley’s problematic relationship with his manager, Colonel Tom Parker. (Tom Hanks). With an ensemble cast that also includes Helen Thomson, Richard Roxburgh, Olivia DeJonge, Luke Bracey, Kodi Smit-McPhee and Dacre Montgomery, the film premiered at the Cannes Film Festival and is set for a US release on June 24. .
Directed, co-produced and co-written by Luhrmann, the biopic marks the Australian filmmaker’s first film in nine years after his 2013 adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s romantic drama. Gatsby the magnificent. However, the director had been in talks to direct an Elvis Presley film as early as 2014, although there was no further development on the biopic until 2019, with production beginning in early 2020. Filming was then postponed to March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, with Hanks and his wife Rita testing positive, and did not start again until September of this year. But when finished, Elvis won praise from those close to Presley, including his daughter, granddaughter and ex-wife.
Now, the first reviews of Luhrmann’s biopic are coming in thanks to those who were able to catch the Elvis‘ Cannes premiere. While most reviews focus on the film’s reluctance to explore Presley’s life in more depth as well as its breakneck pace, the film has been praised for Luhrmann’s spectacular visual style and for the compelling portrayal of Butler as a “king of rock and roll”. Check out excerpts from some of the early reviews below:
Owen Gleiberman, Variety:
Baz Luhrmann’s “Elvis” is a bubbly, delirious, mischievous and compulsively watchable 2 hour and 39 minute fever dream – a reel of a movie that converts the Elvis saga we all carry in our heads into a lavish staging biopic-like-opera-pop. Luhrmann, who made this masterpiece of “Moulin Rouge!” (and in 20 years has never come close to equaling him), is not interested in doing a conventional biography of Elvis. And who would? Luhrmann films the works, jumping from climax to climax, cutting out anything too prosaic (Elvis’ entire decade churning out bland Hollywood musicals passes in the blink of an eye). He taps into the Elvis of our daydreams, scorching us with the heat of the king’s showbiz and spinning his music – and how it was rooted in the genius of black musical forms – like a mix-master through time.
David Ehrlich, IndieWire:
Luhrmann’s sensory overload has resulted in some of the most electric moments in modern cinema, from the aquarium sequence in “Romeo + Juliet” to the elephant mix-up in “Moulin Rouge!” and that fantastic party sequence in “The Great Gatsby,” but the hyper-romantic energy of those films helped weave the present into the past in a way that made them both feel more alive. “Elvis” does not discover such a purpose. He finds so little reason for Presley’s life to be the stuff of a Baz Luhrmann movie that the equation eventually reverses, leaving us with an Elvis Presley movie about Baz Luhrmann. They both deserve better.
Jim Vejvoda, IGN:
Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis is a dizzying and sometimes even heartbreaking chronicle of the rock icon. Austin Butler is stellar as Elvis, giving him his absolute in every scene; truly, a star was born here. Tom Hanks plays smart against type as the manipulative and greedy Colonel Parker, a peddler who was blessed to be the director of what he considered the greatest carnival freak show of all time. Although the supporting cast doesn’t have as many dimensions as they might have in a TV miniseries, Luhrmann tells Presley’s story on a grand scale fit only for the big screen, delivering an epic yet intimate maelstrom. emotions, music, ideas, and eye candy. The film’s breathless pace can suit the feverish lifestyle of a rock star, but it can also rush through necessary moments of dramatic reflection. Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis is a wild ride clearly made with great love for its subject, and that zeal to capture Presley’s humanity, by both its director and its star, ultimately outweighs the excesses and shortcomings of the film.
Peter Bradshaw, The Guardian:
It’s not so much a movie as it is a 159-minute trailer for a film called Elvis – a relentless, frenetically flashy, epic yet insignificant montage, with no variation in pacing. At the end of it all, you might find yourself pondering the eternal questions: What does Luhrmann think of Elvis’ music? Does he, for example, prefer certain Elvis songs to others? Did he listen to Elvis songs all the way through? Or does it stop Spotify after 20 seconds once it feels it’s got the gist? These issues arise due to the oddly incurious approach here to Presley’s music and life, with a competent but not particularly inspired performance by Austin Butler as the King himself, pivoting and disturbing America’s youth. .
Joshua Rothkopf, EO:
For a filmmaker sometimes criticized for skimming the surface, Luhrmann uses matter to go as far as it goes deep. At times, Elvis feels like a lost Oliver Stone movie from his audacious 1990s heyday: a full-scale exploration of debauched American appetites. Fittingly, the Las Vegas years are slowing down a bit, TVs are getting shot and pills are busted. Still, Luhrmann gives way to Nixonian paranoia, especially in a whispered conversation with his estranged wife Priscilla (Olivia DeJonge). “I’ve never made a classic movie that I could be proud of,” Elvis, a James Dean fan, told him. Blue Hawaii fans will wince, but something so rare has happened: a portrait of a serious man trapped in an unserious life.
Clarisse Loughrey, The Independent:
While you won’t find much truth in Baz Luhrmann’s dramatization of his cradle-to-grave life, the Australian filmmaker delivered something much more compelling: an American fairy tale.
David Rooney, THR:
If the writing too rarely lives up to the astonishing visual impact, the director’s affinity for his showman subject is both contagious and exhausting. Luhrmann’s taste for operatic spectacle is evident throughout, resulting in a film that exults in moments of great melodrama as much as in theatrical artifice and vigorously entertaining performances. As for the big question of whether Butler could successfully cement himself as one of the most indelible icons in American pop culture history, the answer is an unqualified yes. His stage moves are sexy and hypnotic, his soulful, lost mama’s son quality is worthy of a swoon, and he captures the tragic paradox of a phenomenal success story that clings tenaciously to the American dream even as it continues to crumble in his hands.
For Luhrmann, these are familiar reviews that evoke critical opinions about his earlier works, such as Red Mill!, Australia, and Gatsby the magnificent. These films have also received praise for their distinctive style and creativity while being criticized for doing so at the expense of the story. However, these assessments have often been at odds with wider public opinion, as Luhrmann remains a hugely popular filmmaker with audiences, his unique style and typically romantic themes having established him as a profitable director and auteur. That being said, Elvis‘ runtime is noticeably longer than most of his other films, which may well test audiences’ enthusiasm against films like Romeo + Juliet and Ballroom strictly.
With Elvis currently receiving mixed reviews, it still appears to be Luhrmann’s most successful film since Red Mill!. As such, it seems likely that the rock and roll biopic will also do well financially when it hits cinemas around the world next month. However, given that the director appears to have his own dedicated fan base, and Luhrmann’s unique visual style has proven to be divisive for audiences, it can be hard to say what influence this critical reception will ultimately have on Elvisthe overall performance of.
More: Does Austin Butler Really Sing In Elvis?
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- Elvis (2022)Release date: June 24, 2022
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