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Show us your Pelvis! — A SPOILER FREE Review of ‘Elvis’

Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Elvis’ is not a biopic in any conventional sense. It is a wild fever-dream that tells the story of a mythical American icon. It’s almost 3-hour run time somehow moves at break-neck speed. This allows it to cover a lot of ground, but also doesn’t let you sit in any of its biggest moments for too long. It may not be for everyone, but it does something for this millennial that no other movie, show, or documentary has ever done for me previously: it makes Elvis Pressley interesting.

The story of ‘Elvis’ is just that. It is a telling of the life and career of Elvis Pressley, but through the eyes of Baz Luhrmann (Moulin Rouge, Romeo + Juliet, The Great Gatsby). Luhrmann is a pretty polarizing director. You either love his movies or can’t stand them. ‘Elvis’ is a circus-like execution of the legendary artist’s story. It begins with Elvis as a young child and goes all the way to his tragic death in 1977. Along the way we are introduced to all of the major influences in his life; like Col. Tom Parker (Tom Hanks), his mother Gladys (Helen Thompson), his father Vernon (Richard Roxburgh) and his wife Priscilla (Oliva DeJonge). We’re given a glimpse into what made Elvis Pressley tick…unlike any other film before it. بلاك جاك اون لاين

Shake, Rattle & Roll

The story feels much like that in any other Baz Luhrmann film. ‘Elvis’ plays out like a fairytale. Narrated by Tom Hanks (as Col. Tom Parker), it tells a cautionary tale through the eyes of a man who had a very complicated relationship with Elvis as his manager. This allows for us to be slightly sympathetic to the man who ran Elvis career and life into the ground.

The film also show us how Elvis’ life tragically progressed the way that it did. تعليم القمار All I’ve ever known of Elvis as a casual observer is that he was a big deal, and then he died on a toilet. For the first time, I feel like I got the true story of how he went from the biggest star in the world to dead on that toilet. I’ll give credit where credit is due; I think Baz Luhrmann might be the only one who could’ve told this story well. سباق احصنة

I’m probably going to be the first to say this, so watch the quote explode—Austin Butler is a star. He absolutely disappears and turns into Elvis Pressley in this performance. Tom Hanks as well shows a side that we’ve never truly seen from him either…which is saying a lot for possibly the most storied actor of our time. It’s not a long-shot to imagine them both getting nominated come Oscar season for these performances.

You Keep Doing You, Baz.

I’ve probably alluded to it a bit so far, but Baz Luhrmann films simply aren’t for everyone. If you’ve never seen a Luhrmann film, just imagine a quick-cut trailer for a movie…extended over 2 to 3 hours. His films are full of so many quick cuts, that it can be tiring after a while. Personally, this style never lets me feel like I can get invested in big moments. ‘Elvis’ is no exception. While the biggest moments of Elvis’ life and career are truly BIG, they’re fleeting. We’re never allowed to really engage in the moment before Luhrmann has moved us on to something else in the story. 

One thing that is quite unique and I think a welcome addition is the use of contemporary music in his films. He plays Doja Cat in the background as Elvis walks Beale Street. Luhrmann did the same thing for 2013’s “The Great Gatsby” (using Jay-Z for a story set in the 1920’s) and it just feels cool…although boomers are sure to raise a stir.

All in All, ‘Elvis’ is a unique twist on your typical biopic. Although it may not be what you’re looking for, it does more than enough to keep you interested and engaged through its almost 3-hour runtime. It also does more to shine the light on Elvis Pressley’s story than that of previous attempts.

VERDICT: 3.5 out of 5 Stars.

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Kenny

Kenny lives in Austin, TX and is one of the co-hosts of the CineBoiz Podcast. When he isn’t talking about or watching movies he can be found kicking it with Mickie the Dog and re-watching the Kansas City Chiefs win Super Bowl 54 for the 25th time.

Kenny