“Rocketman” opened in theaters on May 31. It’s directed by Dexter Fletcher, the filmmaker who finished “Bohemian Rhapsody” after Bryan Singer was fired from that production, and both films tell the true stories of the trials and tribulations of queer rock stars — Freddie Mercury in “Rhapsody” and now Elton John in “Rocketman.” But while many critics rejected the earlier film, now they’re rallying around the new one.
As of this writing “Rocketman” has a MetaCritic score of 73 based on 43 reviews: 33 positive, 10 mixed, and none outright negative. And it has a Rotten Tomatoes freshness rating of 89% (172 positive, only 21 negative). That’s a marked improvement from “Bohemian Rhapsody,” whose critical consensus was 24 points lower on MetaCritic and 28% lower on Rotten Tomatoes.
But despite its mixed reviews, “Rhapsody” was a resounding success, grossing almost $1 billion worldwide and winning four Oscars out of its five nominations: Best Actor (Rami Malek), Best Film Editing, Best Sound Editing and Best Sound Mixing. The only nomination it lost was the big one: Best Picture.
So if “Rhapsody” could do that well with audiences and the academy without widespread critical support, could “Rocketman” do even better. The film stars Taron Egerton as Elton John, and his performance is “excellent” and full of “thrills and vulnerability,” according to reviewers. And Fletcher is getting credit for his work behind the camera to create a “dizzy, bedazzling biopic” with as much vibrancy and luster as the main character himself.
Check out some of the reviews below, and join the discussion on this and more with your fellow movie fans in our forums.
Leah Greenblatt (Entertainment Weekly): “A dizzy, bedazzling biopic that leaves no sequin or fantasy sequence unturned, ‘Rocketman’ is about as subtle as its famously outré muse. But there’s a lot of Technicolor flair in Dexter Fletcher’s flamboyant study of Elton John — and a beating heart in British actor Taron Egerton’s portrayal.”
Stephanie Zacharek (Time): “‘Rocketman’ is magnificent and ridiculous, a feathered melanage of clichés and originality, of respectful homage and unrepentant nostalgia. Sometimes it’s comfortingly conventional; other times it’s gloriously off the charts. Even when it doesn’t quite work, it’s just so damn alive, meeting right at the intersection of the human heartbeat and the also-human love for shiny things.”
Christy Lemire (RogerEbert.com): “This is not exactly a warts-and-all portrayal; even moments of John’s selfish and self-destructive behavior eventually are fodder for a greater redemption tale. And yet … and yet. Egerton gives a performance with such thrills and vulnerability, such charisma and pathos, that it’s hard not to be wowed.”
Alissa Wilkinson (Vox): “It’s a biopic and a jukebox musical and a romance, and also a movie about addiction, all crammed into a frenetic, jewel-studded ecstasy of a movie. And you know what? For the most part, I think it works … [Fletcher has] made a movie that is, above all, aggressively not bland. It opens with Elton John (Egerton, who is excellent throughout) in a fiery orange, campy sequined devil suit with horns.”