TO THE a movie about Elvis, called elviswith Austin Butler as Elvis and Elvis on all posters, trailers and promotional materials, making Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks) the main character instead was a bizarre decision.
Yet that’s exactly what director Baz Luhrmann does with the biopic, with the kind of over-the-top style and direction that couples with the hilarious, high-energy editing of the film that ultimately turns elvis to a frenetic experience.
An assault on the senses elvis“Hyperactivity almost manages to distract the viewer from the fact that this isn’t a movie about Elvis, it’s about his slimy manager Parker.
Not as advertised
elvis begins with Parker – played by Hanks in a fat suit and a goofy accent you might imagine Colonel Sanders in a KFC commercial – being rushed to the hospital, practically on his deathbed.
The rest of the film is essentially designed around Parker – speaking of the dead, using Hank’s comic accent and Luhrmann’s words – trying to justify what happened to the King of Rock and Roll.
The film is essentially shaped like the last dream Parker has before he dies.
That’s no joke.
From time to time, with no understanding of the timing or logic of when or why these scenes are arranged the way they are, the dying Parker pops up while waddling like a penguin against a poorly CGI casino, to say the least how he did nothing wrong and how he didn’t treat Presley like a slave.
Because of the way Hank’s Parker tells it all elvis gives no insight into the man the film is titled after, and Butler’s Presley becomes merely a puppet whose turn is being held by the film’s director.
It would be almost symbolic if it wasn’t such tragic filmmaking.
Lost in the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle
Flip through big events, omit the nuances between each moment, elvis Flashes by so quickly that I sort of missed whether the film involved the death of Presley’s mother or how he nursed 14-year-old Priscilla.
Reading Presley’s Wikipedia page would be quicker and more insightful into how music shaped him and how he shaped music in all its aspects than the entirety of elvis‘Nearly three hours running time.
It’s impressive, even though the film is so long and like Luhrmann smacks viewers with almost every major moment in Presley’s life, the film still says nothing of value as Luhrmann is too preoccupied with the frenzy, dazzle and spectacle of Presley’s musical life seems to be.
I say “almost” because elvis skips — or rather, distills — Presley’s film career in a single throwaway line, mentioned in passing by — surprise, surprise, — Parker.
In the moments between Hank’s unbearable, possibly career-worst performance as Parker and the attack, “edit two frames in this one shot, add ten different angles, zoom in on the pores of seven different extras, pan the camera 180 degrees,” Butler attacks delivers an amazing performance as Elvis Presley.
The musical sequences in which Butler’s stamina, vocals and stage presence are pushed to their absolute limits and the actor spectacularly gains the upper hand and with ease delivers a performance that stands out from the usual Elvis Presley fan facial expressions.
In the even rarer moments when scenes have enough time to breathe, Butler’s Presley transcends the facial expressions even further, radiating what Presley felt, went through and became, particularly in the legendary musician’s final years, following the corrupt management practices of Parker and the drug abuse prescription broke him mentally, spiritually and physically.
But the scenes are far apart as Luhrmann is far more obsessed with the spectacle of Elvis Presley.