Elvis (2022)

Elvis (2022) Cover

Elvis is the new film from Baz Luhrmann (The Great Gatsby, Moulin Rouge!) which tells the story of the King of Rock, Elvis Presley (Austin Butler) and his effective (yet abusively controlling) manager/promoter Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks). There’s lots of ground to cover regarding Elvis’s life; if you were to view the “Life and Career” section of Elvis on Wikipedia you would have much content to read. As someone who was unaware of many details regarding Elvis’s life, I thought the film, despite being sloppily edited, shows us a good glimpse at most of the key aspects of his life and is well-acted throughout.

Elvis is trying to make it in the music industry and Colonel Tom Parker takes him under his wing. The film covers the early days of Elvis’s career till the end of his life; the audience is taken on a journey, getting to see milestones in Elvis’s musical career, how he rose to fame in the movie industry, the conflicts between him and the opposing culture, and how manipulative Parker was unbeknownst to Elvis.

The editing (completed by Matt Villa and Jonathan Redmond) throughout Elvis is highly unconventional; there’s many times where a scene has a dramatic event occur but instead of allowing the audience to soak up emotions we then quickly cut to a new problem. This goes to show Elvis’s life certainly had a high amount of drama and that director Luhrmann really wanted to squeeze it all in. Unfortunately, the ultimate effect is as if one is drinking water from a fire hydrant and it’s difficult to feel emotion while that is happening. There's a section where we cut from Elvis’s music career, to him joining the army, to him falling in love within mere minutes. Olivia DeJonge plays Elvis’s wife, Priscilla Presley, and although she delivers a fair performance because we are going through events at such a rapid pace I never felt the connection between the duo. Although it can be argued this movie is not about their relationship, I would argue that there’s aspects of their relationship that delve into Elvis’s mental state and because the bond between the duo is hollow, audiences are not likely to feel remorse filmmakers intended. 

The acting is a saving grace for the film. Tom Hanks has a weird accent but I was impressed with how much it does not sound like the actor (and I assume sounds like the character Tom Parker) that I give Hanks props for being transformative. Austin Butler embodies Elvis and nails his look, stage presence, and speech. Although Butler may drop off the radar for Best Actor as we get closer to awards season, I would consider him a fair contender against the current slate of other male actor performances. There’s a real clip of Elvis at the end of the film but I had to second-guess myself and ask, “Was that Butler or the real Elvis?” Butler does the best with the screenplay but, once again, due to the editing it is hard to feel emotions for several events I think very much should have been emotional.

Although emotions falter due to the fast-paced editing, if you can keep up with the rhythm, there is much to appreciate; the cinematography is beautiful, the acting is superb, and the film can be very educational for those unaware of what the rising star had to endure throughout his life. If you love Elvis or are interested in learning about this music icon’s life I would recommend Elvis; simply be prepared for the fast-paced “pop-up book” version of his life.

Final Verdict:Admirable acting, beautiful cinematography, and wonky editing. Be prepared for the fast-paced “pop-up book” version of Elvis's life!