From a small town in Mississippi, Elvis Presley (Austin Butler) uses his influences of soul and country music to quickly become the next big thing. This gets the attention of the mysterious Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks), who becomes his manager. With the evolving cultural landscape and loss of innocence in America, Presley’s career rapidly changes with the highs and lows of being a pop and movie star. Along the way, he meets and marries Priscilla Presley (Olivia DeJonge), which eventually leads to the King of Rock and Roll questioning his complex relationship with the Colonel.

It’s almost surprising that there hasn’t been a big biographical adaptation of Elvis’ life up until now, aside from the miniseries or lower-budget movies. But after the success of recent biopics like Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) and Rocketman (2019), we were guaranteed a take on The King. And who better to take on the massive task than the bombastic Aussie writer and director, Baz Luhrmann. But the trouble with almost every music biopic is the predictable “rise to fame and being swept up by sex and drugs” formula. In the case of Elvis, the structure is definitely in place, to its detriment, but the framework of the evolving culture and history of the ’50s to the ’70s helped add some uniqueness to the story, in its long 2 and a half hour running time. And the trademark Luhrmann manic editing and camera swoops that stitched Romeo + Juliet and Moulin Rouge! together is still in place, for better or worst.

There’s no denying that the powerhouse performances of Austin Butler and Tom Hanks aren’t admirable. While Butler doesn’t look exactly like Presley, his mannerisms and movements are incredibly impressive, without being a corny impersonator you’d find in a Las Vegas chapel. And Hanks, in heavy makeup, brings a very creepy and somewhat endearing performance as the manipulative manager. Wouldn’t be surprised at all if both of the leading actors get Oscars attention later in the year. The Gold Coast is also completely unrecognisable as the backdrop of ’50s America and Vegas, but you’ll definitely get to play “Spot the Aussie actor” throughout the movie.

Overall, Elvis doesn’t add much to the evergrowing rock star biopic landscape, but its depiction of a specific time in American history was engaging. However, the fantastic performances from Austin Butler as The King and Tom Hanks as the questionable advisor absolutely make the movie worth a watch. If you’re a fan of Elvis Presley or enjoy the eccentric Luhrmann filmography, I can recommend seeing the movie.

Elvis is in the building on June 23rd.

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