We’ve already gotten a look at Taron Egerton playing Sir Elton John in Rocketman, but here comes a new featurette meant to convince us he is not just doing Elton karaoke but is FULLY INHABITING THE SPIRIT OF SIR ELTON. This featurette is dedicated to showing off his singing—which is really good, to be fair—and hammering home that Sir Elton Approves, and all of this is a Blessed Endeavor with the Full Cooperation of the Artist. So, there are a few things going on here, all of which are, I think, fueled by Bohemian Rhapsody.
There will inevitably be comparisons. They are both flashy rock-star biopics coming out within a year of one another, starring up-and-comers for whom this could be a breakout moment, and showcasing beloved classic rock hits. They also both deal with artists who became queer icons, and especially in the wake of Bohemian Rhapsody’s questionable-at-best treatment of Freddie Mercury, there will be a lot of eyes on how Rocketman approaches this period of Sir Elton’s life. But this featurette is less about that and more about the music, specifically, selling us on Taron Egerton singing the music. Don’t worry! It will still sound mostly like Sir Elton! This kid has the chops! Sir Elton approves!
And this featurette is copying the Bohemian Rhapsody playbook, centering the make-or-break nature of the role for Egerton in the narrative, letting him express humility over being chosen for this part, acknowledging that this is all to serve The Legend. This is exactly how Malek has traipsed through award season (with one or two hiccups about the serial sexual predator who directed his movie). This featurette is simultaneously trying to convince us to buy into Taron Egerton as Sir Elton, and also laying track for a potential awards run. Can Rocketman make it that far? It’s an early summer release. It’s tough for movies to last that long, especially if they’re perceived as popcorn entertainment. But both Black Panther and Bohemian Rhapsody overcame those hurdles, so it is possible. The Rocketman team now knows it is possible. Which is why they are setting up the narrative already.
As for the how the movie looks, still fine. Egerton seems impressive, and it can’t possibly do worse with representation than Bohemian Rhapsody, so that bar is really low and ought to be cleared with ease. The soundtrack will certainly do well. I’m sort of already bored with jukebox movies, and Yesterday looks like a much more creative approach to that kind of thing, but I’m sure Rocketman will be perfectly enjoyable. You know, as long as it’s not weirdly punishing and devoted to humiliating Sir Elton because his legacy eclipsed that of his bandmates.