Well, It’s One For The Money, Two For The Show Three to Get Ready Now, Go, ‘Elvis,’ Go
I have a love-hate relationship with Elvis Presley.
The dislike has nothing to do with his appropriation of African American music. Fans of Elvis wouldn’t have discovered acts like Arthur Crudup or Big Mama Thornton if it wasn’t for Elvis’s covers.
My mom was a huge fan of Elvis, so I had disdain for him since I would hear his songs at home or on the car radio every day, and I was a snobby little kid who didn’t appreciate older music.
Years later, I got rid of my child snobbery, enjoyed some of Elvis and other older music, and loved every second.
Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis bio-drama has reaffirmed my feelings towards the rocker; I felt remorse for what his manager, Colonel Tom Parker, put him through. The Colonel turned Elvis into a sideshow attraction that led to his premature death.
Baz Luhrmann captured this downfall by presenting the film from the notorious manager’s point of view, and it tarnished the film experience. There is nothing more chilling than his manager telling you he didn’t die because of me. No, it was the pills and love of his fans.
They smothered him to death.
Given Elvis is a Baz Luhrmann film: a director who loves to film extravagant scenes and use vivid camera work, Elvis is a bold film depicting flashy and dramatic colors, showcasing in full scope the glamorous lifestyle of the late rocker.
For those who don’t know Elvis, Baz Luhrmann adds enough details to understand Elvis Presley’s life: he was a shy kid who grew up in African American shacks, and one day he went to Sam Phillips Studio Sun Records to record a few songs for his momma. Then to see if he had star potential, Sun Records had Elvis sing “That’s All Right,” and the rest is history.
It would’ve been great to see how this introverted child became a sex symbol, as there aren’t many scenes featuring the transition. Instead, Baz Luhrmann filmed a scene where child Elvis finds his talent in an African American church congregation. Baz Luhrmann and the writers made Elvis into a superhero, and I’m not mad.
Another scene they should’ve added is Elvis’s love for peanut butter, bacon, and banana sandwiches. One scene with Elvis sitting at a table with the sandwich on a plate would suffice.
Actor-wise, Austin Butler transforms into the rock n roll star. At first, Austin Butler seemed poor casting, but the guy can morph through every phase of Elvis Presley’s brief life.
I wish I could say the same for Tom Hanks as Colonel Tom Parker, who looks deformed, and his strange British and Australian accent did him no favors. It’s true that Colonel Tom Parker wasn’t from the United States and spent years making his voice sound southern, yet Tom Hanks keeps a bizarre Australian accent through the entire film.
Overall, Baz Luhrmann made a bold film depicting Elvis’s life through Colonel Tom Parker’s eyes in vibrant scenes and flashy clothes. I would love to see an arc of timid Elvis to Las Vegas Elvis, but they only show one scene of his childhood. Austin Butler transforms into a rockstar and embodies every aspect of Elvis Presley. However, Tom Hanks becomes a deformed Colonel Tom Parker with a goofy accent.
Flaws aside, Baz Luhrmann made an enjoyable film that would please any fan of Elvis. If it doesn’t, the cinematography will keep them entranced.
I was the youngest in the theater room; everyone else was old enough to witness Elvis alive, and they loved the film.
We can both revere and feel thankful Elvis escaped his prison.
This review was made free by the AB Association.