Bohemian Rhapsody is up for a bunch of Oscars this coming weekend, some of them utterly inexplicably, and Rami Malek will almost certainly take Best Actor for his performance as Freddie Mercury. The movie did exceptionally well at the box office, whatever you think of the film. Perfect timing, then, for a new trailer about the other gay rockstar who rose to fame in the '70s and still enjoys enduring adulation today: Rocketman, aka The Elton John Story.
Given Rhapsody's current status, one of Rocketman's most interesting elements is its director, Dexter Fletcher, who was the guy brought in to take over, uncredited, after Bryan Singer got fired from that movie. Fletcher essentially worked a cleanup job on that movie, hired as he was to remain invisible and uncredited onscreen. His other work, though, aside from a long-running acting career, includes the direction of the incredibly enjoyable feel-good ski-jumping movie Eddie the Eagle, starring Kingsman's Taron Egerton. That director/actor team has reunited, and you can see for yourself in the trailer below:
Obviously, a lot of familiar music biopic beats (as parodied in Walk Hard, and examined in my buddy Patrick H. Willems' latest YouTube video) are hit in here. You've got your "convincing the record execs" beat, the "origin of stage name" beat, the "childhood dreamer" beat, the "huge triumphant concert" beat, the "strung out on drugs and alchohol" beat, and so on. But where Rocketman looks to diverge (a little) from the formula is in its hints of surrealism and fantasy: dotted throughout the trailer are bits of subjective and colourful visual imagery - a bit like Chicago's stylised internal-monologue musical numbers - that you don't get in most of these films. There are dance numbers! They look terrific, and hopefully they're used liberally to give Rocketman the flamboyant edge Rhapsody desperately lacked.
Also, Egerton appears to be doing his own singing, whereas Malek was dubbed by actual Mercury recordings, making Bohemian Rhapsody - and its finale in particular - history's most-expensive episode of Lip Sync Battle. And that baseball-bat moment at the end is a perfect representation of the transition between person and performer that happens whenever one goes onstage.
Look, I like Elton John as a musician, I like Dexter Fletcher as a director, and I like Taron Egerton as an actor. So I'm choosing to remain optimistic about this movie until the law of music biopic inevitability proves me wrong.