Photo from Empire

Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks) reflects on his life, how he came to manage Elvis Presley (Austin Butler), and the highs and lows he had with the famous rock’n’roller.

The King of Rock and Roll is an icon in American culture. I grew up listening to his music as I’m sure many people did. I must disclaim that while this movie is about Elvis’s life, it does not delve deep into the superstar’s history.

Tom Hanks performance in this film is truly baffling. Colonel Tom Parker is one of those cartoonish, mustache twirling villains. Despite being the narrator of the film, you actually do not know much about Elvis’s manager except that he is greedy and a gambler. Hanks’s character also breaks the fourth wall and speaks to the audience multiple times, which felt quite unnecessary and confounding choice which does not add anything to the film. Austin Butler, on the other hand, does embody Elvis well. He is the reason why you go to see this film.

The conflicts in this story were mainly threats of lawsuits or Parker and Presley butting heads about the icon’s image. I simply did not care about the lawsuit threats. Elvis was a millionaire and even though his manager manipulated and swindled him, the singer still had plenty of luxuries that the average person can only dream of.

This film zooms through almost everything in Elvis’s life. It’s a neck-breaking pace, but I still felt that many things got glossed over, such as his marriage to Priscilla (Olivia DeJonge) and his Hollywood career. There were also some things the film focused on like the assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy, that while may have been upsetting to a real-life Elvis, but overall did not affect his career so I don’t really understand while they were included in the film. And despite the fast pacing, the movie still feels too long.

I am actually a fan of Baz Luhrmann films for the most part and I have to say Elvis was my least favorite film of his. Luhrmann’s films always are lush, hectic, and music-heavy. Elvis just feels too messy to properly enjoy. One big criticism about Elvis is that he stole African-American dances, songs, and sounds. This was simply never addressed in the film, in fact they seem to embrace that Elvis is appropriating .

The musical sequences are exciting, and that will be enough for viewers who just want to see this film to listen to the songs. However, I don’t think Elvis actually sings one of his songs in full except for maybe “Hound Dog”. There are also some songs absent from the film like “The Devil in Disguise,” which is a bit disappointing.

Musical biopics are pretty much all the same. There is a formula that this type of film almost always follows. Elvis also follows this formula, but is executed akin to Bohemian Rhapsody rather than Rocketman.

Elvis is a mixed bag for me. While Butler gives quite a breathtaking performance, Hanks’s performance goes in the exact opposite direction. The film tries to tackle too much and is chaotically paced and edited. I wanted to know more about Elvis the person, but the film barely scratches the surface when it comes to that. But the music and concert scenes are enjoyable fore the most part.

I give Elvis a C.

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