ELVIS – Rated PG-13 – 2hrs. 39 mins.

“The way you sing is God-given, so there can’t be nothin wrong with it…”

WRITTEN and DIRECTED BY:  Baz Luhrmann

Also WRITTEN BY:   Sam Bromell and Craig Pearce

STARRING:  Austin Butler, Tom Hanks, Olivia DeJonge, Richard Roxburgh, David Wenham, Yola Kelvin Harrison Jr, Helen Thomson And Alton Mason

From the back woods of Tupelo Mississippi, to his long-term gracing of the stage in Las Vegas, Baz Luhrmann brings to life the King of Rock and Roll, Elvis Presley, in dazzling fashion, in this latest biopic on the Life of the one, the only Elvis Presley…

As we meet young Elvis (Austin Butler), it seems that the young man who was destined for greatness, longed to leave the poverty and embarrassment of his childhood days, and with a keen sense of wanting the best for everyone he knew, tried desperately to make sure his friends, and his family, got to take the joy ride of his life too…

When Elvis meets Carnival master Col. Tom Parker (Tom Hanks) it seems his star is beginning to rise, but now with Col. Parker’s showmanship persona oozing into ever aspect of Elvis’s career, it seems that both Elvis and Col. Parker are about to live the high-life, and where money my friends, is literally falling from the trees…

Although pitfalls, they are a comin’, as Elvis fights the censorship of his jumping and jiving full-force, circa America in the 1950’s, so off to the Army he goes, for a chance to redeem himself as the “all American boy” that everyone in this nation can now respect, and admire…

But when you’re a Mama’s boy, being away from home is super-hard, as his absence from home, weighs heavily on his mama Gladys (Helen Thomson) while he is away as well…

But, there are positives that come from his time in the Army too, like his encounter with the young and impressionable Priscilla Beaulieu (Olivia DeJonge), who at 22 years years of age, ultimately becomes his bride.

And when Hollywood comes a calling, it seems that acting is flowing through this young man’s blood too, if only he could get the dramatic roles he’s longing to achieve, instead of the bubblegum musicals the studios just keep beckoning him to do…

But as Elvis tries to stay true to his musical roots to get his singing career back on track, it seems that all he needs is an encounter with fellow musical talents BB King (Kelvin Harrison Jr) Sister Rosetta Tharpe (Yola), or the incomparable Little Richard (Alton Mason), to make everything alright…

Now, as the young Rock star and his new beautiful wife soon find, life on the road, and under the direction of Col. Parker is getting more grueling and mundane by the day, Elvis decides he wants to travel and sing to the world, and not with this crazy old man in tow..

But the more Elvis pushes back, the more Col Parker manipulates Elvis’s career to suit his own life, and lifestyle, securing Elvis a gig at the International Hotel, which ultimately ends up encompassing the last few year’s of Elvis’s illustrious career…as he fades away into all the darkness that seems to consume him, as the world, to this day, mourns the loss of ELVIS…

I give ELVIS a rating of 4 out of 5 Stars:  If you love the way that Australian Film Director/Writer Baz Luhrmann brings overt opulence and storytelling to the screen – like he did in 2001’s MOULIN ROUGE! or in 2013’s THE GREAT GATSBY – then you will be blown away by this latest creation, every step of the way, as he brings ELVIS to life, in a very fabulous and entertaining way!

And as much as I enjoyed this film, and it’s take on the Elvis’s life,  Luhrmann could not have pulled this one off to the level of expertise that he did, without securing the young and very talented Austin Butler, to inhabit and literally channel the legend, throughout every inch of this film!  Butler’s performance is so incredible in every way, that you can’t deny he deserves many accolades come this award season, for this truly exceptional performance.  And of course, listening to Elvis’s incredible music, and the recreation of many of the performances on television, that I can remember as a child, watching them on my grandmother’s television, made this movie near and dear to my heart, as it played out too.  But, their were a few moments throughout this film, that I found myself struggling to get through too, like the fact that Priscilla might as well have stayed at home with Lisa Marie through this one, as her small, and not integral at all part in this storyline really began to  bug  me, and with that said, I mean no disrespect to actress Olivia DeJonge’s performance either,  it’s just a fact that she wasn’t given hardly enough material, or screen time to leave her presence felt in this film.  And it pains me like no other, to share this next part with you as well, but I just couldn’t get into Tom Hanks interpretation of Col. Tom Parker, no matter how hard I tried.  Tom Hanks has been one of my favorite actors on screen, my entire adult life, making this critique of him super hard to disclose, but this part, and this role, sadly just doesn’t suit him at all! I also went into this film thinking viewer’s are going to either LOVE It, or HATE it, and  my assumption was true there too, as when I talked with a few of my fellow critics after this one, they seemed to either love Butler and Luhrman’s take on the KING as I mostly did, or they hated every pain staking minute of this interpretation of Elvis’s life, there were literally no in-betweens.  So, If you, like I, have a sign that says ELVIS PRESLEY BLVD hanging in your family room, and you own your own DVD’s of your favorite Elvis movies, then you have to head to a theater near you this weekend to see Austin Butler’s incredible performance as ELVIS for yourself! But if Baz Luhrmann’s films aren’t quite your “cup of tea”, and you were hoping that Tom Hanks performance was going to help you get through this one, then you might find yourself really disappointed…but I still ask that you to take 2 and a half hours of your time, so that you can see Butler’s rendition of the KING on the big screen, as his performance is worthy of you viewing this film at a theater near you, and no other way…

4 out of 5 stars

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