After its premiere and initial criticism at the Cannes Film Festival, more reviews of Elvis appeared, and although they unanimously praise Austin Butler’s starring role as the king of rock and roll, some aspects of the story have been criticized. In the musical biopic of Baz Luhrmann, the breakthrough actor “Once upon a Time in Hollywood” Butler plays the main role after he defeated several contenders, including Ansel Elgort, Miles Teller and Harry Styles for the role. Elvis has also starred Tom Hanks, Helen Thomson, Richard Roxburgh, Olivia DeJong and Luke Bracey, and it traces Elvis’ life from childhood to fame, focusing on the iconic singer’s complicated relationship with his manager, Colonel Tom Parker.
Named Luhrmann’s musical Apocalypse Now, Elvis was touted as reliably capturing the rise and fall of a beloved star whose legacy of hits continues to influence the industry even today. Like the early images, trailers, and teasers from the movie show, Luhrmann’s trademark of ostentatious visuals and fast-paced storytelling complements the dazzling exuberance of the 1950s, as well as Presley’s career trajectory as a sensational pop star. This led to the Presley family praising Elvis: the star’s daughter, Lisa Maria Presley, called the film “nothing short of exciting,” and his ex-wife Priscilla Presley hailed it as “a true story told brilliantly and creatively.”
Now more critics have shared their reviews of Elvis, and most of them are generally positive, praising Butler’s brilliant lead role. The physical and vocal authenticity of the actor “Switched at Birth” to Presley is at the center of every review, while the style of the film, luxurious camerawork and energetic numbers are also highly appreciated. Elvis has also come under some criticism, especially for his dramatic story, which at times was too overwhelming for some. Other critics also found the rhythm of the film frenzied, although Butler’s performance of Presley’s songs was still considered convincing and, as one commentator put it, “tingling.”
[Butler’s] keen instinct for melodrama and a charm capable of burning the screen give his Elvis a rudeness characteristic of the Mid-century Method.
Although you won’t find as much truth in the dramatization of Baz Luhrmann’s life from cradle to grave, the Australian director has created something much more convincing: an American fairy tale.
Luhrmann was never an experienced playwright. He has the instincts of a supreme pop video. And in the god of pop music, Elvis Presley, he may have found his ideal theme.
There is enough energy and flashes… to overcome most quibbles, and Butler throws himself into a game that is wildly physical, but never cartoonish or disrespectful.
This could well be a star turn for [Austin Butler], a bold statement of theatrical energy and ingenuity that even the devoted fans of “Carrie Diaries” did not suspect. It’s a shame then that Luhrmann is working so hard to drown it out.
Complaining that “Elvis” is, in fact, a collection of musical biographical conventions is like complaining about a greatest hits album; it also lacks… [Luhrmann’s] ability to fill cliches with sincerity, energy and feeling.
Does Luhrmann show us the real Elvis, or is he just reshaping the Elvis that already lives in our imagination? The answer seems to be that Luhrmann sees the same value in facts and myths.
Over the years, many actors have portrayed Elvis Presley in films and TV shows, although these projects have not focused exclusively on the famous artist. Of course, some of them were received more well than others, for example, the 1979 TV movie “Elvis” and 2016’s “Elvis and Nixon”. Nevertheless, Luhrmann’s new biopic about Elvis promises to be one of the biggest cinematic projects about the famous star. Of course, some aspects of the film were heavily criticized, but Elvis still received 12 minutes of applause during his debut at Cannes, and that’s enough to predict his potential impact on culture. Now it remains to be seen how audiences will react to the film, and that will become clear when Elvis hits theaters later this month.