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Rocketman


About twenty minutes into the new Elton John biopic ROCKETMAN, Taron Egerton steps onto screen as a young Elton John and within one minute, goosebumps ensue.

Egerton and a large cast break out into "Saturday Night's Alright for Fighting" and you could feel the entire preview audience we saw the film last night go all in.

That's a good thing, because Elton has also gone all in with this revealing, painful, hilarious and heartfelt reveal of his life story.

Lee Hall (Billy Elliot, War Horse) builds a clever screenplay with a therapy session opening the film that provides the audience easy transport to different times of Elton's life.

We first see him as a gifted young piano player with a very difficult home life. His mother Sheila (Bryce Dallas Howard) is a promiscuous drinker, his Dad is a closed off military man with no love in his heart.

It's an unhappy home.

We then move forward to Elton in his early 20's, finding his first musical success in a local band, where he meets his terrific writing partner Bernie Taupin, perfectly played by Jamie Bell (Billy Elliot).

When a hit single opens the door for Elton to make his first US appearance at the famed Troubadour on Sunset Blvd. in LA, he's blows the doors off, propelling his career and the movie into a whirlwind of success, fame and excess.

John doesn't do anything halfway.

Love, shopping, drugs, self loathing are all at full tilt.

Richard Madden (Game of Thrones) is John's first industry agent and lover and Madden's terrific, dripping plenty of 70's cool before turning cold.

Tate Donovan (Argo) is great as Troubadour owner Doug Weston and Charlie Rowe resonates as Elton's very first assistant agent Ray Williams.

I'm betting that Egerton (Kingsmen) is a Best Actor nominee next year for his portrayal of John. He's fantastic, doing all his own singing throughout and not mimicking John, but somehow perfectly capturing the man.

Egerton's performance can stand proudly with Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury in last year's "Bohemian Rhapsody" and Joaquin Phoenix's incredible take on Johnny Cash in 2005's "Walk the Line".

Over 20 songs are featured in the film, many performed in concerts, many in more traditional musical format, with the characters singing them as part of the narrative.

There are many standout sequences, including Egerton's debut mentioned above in "Saturday Night", his Troubadour debut with "Crocodile Rock", fantasy sequences around "Pinball Wizard" and "Rocketman".

Like John himself, there is nothing subtle about the film. It's R rating is earned, with sexuality frankly depicted and often hilarious profanity rampant throughout.

In the opening scene, John confesses to the therapy group that he is an alcoholic and then adds to that vice with a litany of others.

There's maybe no greater pleasure than watching a person triumph over all his flaws to become an example of giving back and giving his all.

Sad, uplifting and powerful, ROCKETMAN is loaded with some of the best Elton John/Bernie Taupin songs of the past 50 years and Egerton's star breakout performance killing every note.

When the crowd's feet begins to lift off the floor at The Troubadour, you'll know exactly how they feel.

ROCKETMAN soars to an A+.

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