Elvis is a mashup of all things cinematically good, bad, and otherwise

by Gordon Shelly

Elvis is visually stunning, but this is a Baz Luhrmann movie, so anything less would be criminal.

For a Luhrmann movie, style and aesthetic always take precedence.  The storyline typically falls somewhere below that, and acting, well acting just doesn’t seem to matter much to the director.

With that, there are always exceptions, there is always an actor who rises above the others and makes a Luhrman movie his/her/their own. In this instance it is the Austin Butler, playing none other than Elvis. His performance is remarkable (and the Oscars love a musician-based biopic).

The movie attempts to be a biopic of The King but often feels more like this odd mix of fantasy and fiction with a hint of reality, never clearly letting us know which is which. Luhrmann pretends that he has something powerful to say but, instead, avoids any real controversy and focuses on the glossy highlights for the majority of the film.

The film is told from Colonel Parker’s perspective, who is played by Tom Hanks. As a musical biopic, it has some strong points; however, as an Elvis movie from Parker’s perspective, anything that should have meaning falls apart.

Most disappointing is the performance of Tom Hanks himself. It seems strange to say, Hanks, while usually at least likeable, is just simply bad.

Diehard Elvis fans will love the musical high notes. Luhrmann fans will enjoy the visuals. Critical film watchers will be disappointed. Casual film goers will likely ask, what in the hell did I just see?

Gordon’s Grade: C+