The movie musical has been having a renaissance this decade, with adaptation from the somber story of Les Miserables to this December's upcoming rendition of Cats. Alongside it, the musical biopic has seen a massive rise in fortunes, as Bohemian Rhapsody not only crushed the box office with the story of Freddie Mercury and Queen but also went on to dominate the Oscars. Now comes the hybrid of the two, Elton John's fantasy biopic, Rocketman, which tells the story of the artist's rise in a jukebox musical format. Critics are enchanted, and Rocketman ratings are proof, as John himself once sang, "The B*tch Is Back."
Despite the love of Bohemian Rhapsody by audiences and the Oscars, the film was not nearly the hit with critics it was everywhere else. One reason for that was Mercury was dead, leaving his story to be told by others, and not always to Mercury's benefit. Moreover, there was a distinct lack of creativity to how the film was put together, turning out a color-by-numbers tale that didn't have the same flair of imagination Mercury might have brought to the table. In the end, it only ranked a 61% favorability rating.
Rocketman is luckier, with Elton John still alive and executive producing the film, the sense of whimsy and fun courses through the film, delighting critics so much, it currently sits at 90% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.
Rolling Stone is bowled over:
The young, gay, conflicted and addicted Elton John is brought to life by an electrifying, Oscar-caliber Taron Egerton and Dexter Fletcher's dazzling cinematic inventiveness. Forget the cliches, this one you don't want to miss.
The Chicago Sun-Times says the movie nailed the personality of its subject:
Rocketman manages to be campy and yet sincere, serious and yet ridiculous, profound and yet silly, and quite wonderful. Just like Elton himself.
And The New York Times says this biopic was made for the fans, in a way most biopics aren't willing to do:
The point of Rocketman isn't self-aggrandizement. It's fan service of an especially and characteristically generous kind.
As for how the film is expected to do when it hits the box office, it has the misfortune to be going up against Godzilla: King Of The Monsters, the heavily-hyped monster movie, which it will probably fall to in the opening weekend frame. According to Variety:
Godzilla won’t be the only seemingly otherworldly being entering multiplexes this weekend. Rocketman, a fantasy musical about the life of Elton John, is also hitting theaters. The jukebox biopic should amass around $20 million from 3,600 venues, with some box office analysts estimating a start north of $30 million. Since premiering at Cannes, Rocketman has generated solid reviews, notably for Taron Egerton’s portrayal of the songwriting legend.
That being said, Bohemian Rhapsody took a few weeks to start breaking records and had long legs over the next few months after the initial November 2018 release. With the glowing reviews, Rocketman may ride several weeks in a row as a sleeper for the summer in the same way.