'Elvis': Critics SHRED Baz Luhrmann's 'SHAMELESS comic-book biopic' starring Austin Butler
Even though Hollywood star Austin Butler gained global recognition with his brilliant performance as Tex Watson in Quentin Tarantino's critically acclaimed film ‘Once Upon a Time in Hollywood’, he has stolen the limelight as the iconic king of rock and roll Elvis Presley in ace filmmaker Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Elvis’. The movie has generated plenty of mixed reviews but has a brilliant 79 per cent fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes. The actor has been hailed and applauded by critics for his extraordinary performance as the late rock and roll icon Elvis Presley in the film.
The official synopsis for Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Elvis’ reads, “The film explores the life and music of Elvis Presley (Butler), seen through the prism of his complicated relationship with his enigmatic manager, Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks). The story delves into the complex dynamic between Presley and Parker spanning over 20 years, from Presley’s rise to fame to his unprecedented stardom, against the backdrop of the evolving cultural landscape and loss of innocence in America. Central to that journey is one of the most significant and influential people in Elvis’s life, Priscilla Presley (Olivia DeJonge).”
National Review’s film critic Armond White has described ‘Elvis’ as a “shameless comic-book biopic”. He also shared his take on noted filmmaker Baz Luhrmann’s direction, adding, “Luhrmann's style jumps from one exaggeration to another, zipping through poor-white class issues, past the European-based Army stint and the legendary acquisitive status.”
Empire Magazine’s Olly Richards has revealed that iconic director Luhrmann literally “races through the life of Elvis Presley”. He has said that the film overall is “one hell of a ride, but sometimes it's moving too fast for his audience to get more than a passing look at his characters”. Furthermore, Richards also shared, “Trying to squeeze in so much, even over a 159-minute running time, it’s not surprising that much of it feels rushed.” Richards praises Austin Butler’s performance in the film by stating how it has been a real saving grace and added, “Austin Butler is sensational as Presley. He convinces at every age, from teen to 42."
Meanwhile, Wall Street Journal’s Kyle Smith lashed out at Baz Luhrmann’s filmmaking techniques, “The editing is like a kaleidoscope fed through a food processor, the camera has less ability to sit still than a 4-year-old stuffed with birthday cake, and both lead actors veer into camp." Also slamming Austin Butler’s performance in the film by calling them "caricatures", he added, “As Presley, Austin Butler pours far too much energy into looking smoldering. I kept thinking of Ben Stiller's Zoolander doing his aggressively moronic Blue Steel stare.”
New Yorker’s film critic Anthony Lane wrote, “Presleyologists will learn nothing here, and purists will find plenty against which to rail. Less knowing viewers, however, may well be sucked in by Luhrmann's lively telling of the tale."
Starring alongside Austin Butler and Tom Hanks, award-winning theatre actress Helen Thomson plays Elvis’s mother Gladys, Richard Roxburgh portrays Elvis’s father Vernon, and Olivia DeJonge plays Priscilla. Luke Bracey plays Jerry Schilling, Natasha Bassett plays Dixie Locke, David Wenham plays Hank Snow, Kelvin Harrison Jr plays BB King, Xavier Samuel plays Scotty Moore, and Kodi Smit-McPhee plays Jimmie Rodgers Snow.
Baz Luhrmann’s ‘Elvis’ was released in theatres globally on June 24, 2022.