“Elvis” Loses The Charm of a 1950’s Biopic


Source: The New York Times

Elizabeth Ippolito

Source: TMDb

Director: Baz Luhrmann

Starring: Austin Butler, Tom Hanks, and Olivia DeJonge

Release Date: June 24, 2022

Rating: 3/5

After months of anticipation, audiences were finally able to hit the theaters on June 24th to see Elvis! I, for one, immediately went to see Elvis on its opening weekend and I couldn’t be more disappointed. Austin Butler starred as Elvis Presley and Tom Hanks plays his manager Tom Parker. The movie follows Elvis’s career and how Tom helps him build his fame. Austin Butler gave the performance of a lifetime on the big screen but other than that the rest of the film was pretty mundane.

The film had been built up all year as Austin Butler would be playing Elvis. With a soundtrack that already could not be beaten, the Elvis marketing team put in the work to get Gen Z in theaters. I commend them for their efforts but as I watched the film, I found that some of the most intriguing parts of the film were exposed in the trailer and other marketing materials. 

Looking at the cinematography, the color scheme of the movie was beautiful with lots of shades of red and gold. But as far as camera movement, many in the audience felt dizzy by the carnival-like transitions. While I personally enjoyed how the movie transitioned from scene to scene, I can see why some would get confused or dizzy from the transitions. 

Elvis is a biopic and if I could characterize it in one word it would be goofy. Biopics normally take a serious stance and fit into the drama genre. Elvis, on the other hand, lacked drama for all that Elvis Presley endured in his career and lifetime. I also felt it was hard to connect with the characters. As I mentioned above, the marketing team tried too hard to get members of Gen Z to see the film and it took away from the characteristics of a biopic. For one, the song “Vegas” by Doja Cat should not be included in a biopic that takes place in the 50s, this takes away all of the film’s credibility. The pacing of the film was also all over the place. The beginning felt like a sprint while the middle was more of a marathon, and the end returned to a fast pace. This left me feeling confused and rushed at times. 

In regards to the film’s acting, Austin Butler’s portrayal of Elvis is undeniably Oscar-worthy. Butler threw himself into the role of Elvis and it truly shows. His singing was on point and his gestures and dancing were just like the real Elvis. Beyond this, Butler put a lot of heart into this performance and it showed on the big screen. Tom Hanks, on the other hand, I could have lived without. His embarrassment of a European accent made every scene with him uncomfortable. One could argue that the film would be a lot better without the Tom Parker storyline. I would argue for this and more screen time for Olivia DeJonge as her portrayal of Priscilla Presley was amazing. Not only did DeJonge look strikingly like Priscilla, but she also was able to make the story feel more real and impactful. I would have loved to see more of Elvis and Priscilla as the main characters and Tom Parker as more of a side character.

While Elvis was kind of a flop in my eyes, I definitely think everyone should see this movie for Austin Butler’s incredible performance and if they want to keep up with all of the spoilers they’re seeing online.