Elvis comes to life on the big screen by director Baz Luhrmann and actor Austin Butler. This unique and dazzling tale of the King of Rock N' Roll looks and sounds wonderful, but the long run time and the uneven pace keep it from hitting its target. That being said, this is an original take on the life and career of Elvis which succeeds in a lot of areas. The 1080p HD images are decent and the Dolby Atmos track sounds excellent. The extras are average, but they feature all the main actors and filmmakers. Worth A Look.
Elvis Aaron Presley is no doubt the King of Rock N' Roll. His music still continues to be praised and inspires current musicians each and every day. For as popular and accessive his life and music were to his fans over numerous decades, the ins and outs of his personal life and music contrast remain uneasy, turbulent, and off-kilter. Director Baz Luhrmann has come to the big screen realm with his vision of the biggest selling artist of all time with his film titled Elvis. While Luhrmann's unique and theatrically dazzling style is all over this film, which can be quite distracting at times, there's no doubt that Austin Butler playing Elvis makes this film worthy of seeing despite its almost three-hour run time.
Luhrmann has never bowed down to Hollywood executives to compromise his stunning vision in telling stories everyone knows by heart, whether it be his own version of Romeo + Juliet, a take on Moulin Rogue!, or a highly valued stylized concept of The Great Gatsby. Luhrmann knows how to set a film on fire with spectacular effects that can fully immerse his audience inside a live stage play with all the hot lights, music, and choreography to keep everyone's toes tapping. The same goes for his Elvis picture, however, Luhrmann takes an unconventional approach once again to tell this tragic tale of Elvis's life and career. With an out-of-the-world performance from Butler and a weird, yet underwhelming role for Tom Hanks, the pacing and the film's length hinder it from being completely enjoyable. But kudos to Luhrmann for doing something creative and original with this biopic that nobody saw coming - telling the hero's story from the villain's eye line.
That villain was Elvis's long-time manager known as "Colonel" Tom Parker (Tom Hanks), who selfishly and sinisterly manipulated Elvis and his family out of millions of dollars for his own gambling debts. As the Colonel exploited Elvis for his own personal gain, Luhrmann allows him to do the same to his audience as Parker narrates a version of Elvis's story to make himself look like an angel. It's a gutsy move and it pays off in an original way. This is not the stereotypical biopic movie and that deserves praise. Luhrmann's way of showcasing the big events in Elvis's life from discovering music, the gospel, and playing with some of the biggest names in music like Big Mama Thorton, Little Richard, B.B. King, and more are done wonderfully.
It's clear was a one-of-a-kind prototype musician who was there to change music forever. Unfortunately, like a lot of talented artists, they are easily manipulated by others for nefarious plans, which resulted in Tom Parker coming aboard and orchestrating a decade-long con on Elvis that prevented him from doing what he wanted. This ultimately led to his turmoil in marriage, his addiction to drugs, and lastly his untimely, sad death. There are great moments of rebellion, his love for his child and mother, and wanting to make the best music and live performance there ever was, which Luhrmann also spotlights as well. But with its long run time and constant flashy sequences, the film can inch away from the story at hand.
Butler is a commanding force on screen. His body language, voice, singing, dancing, and expressions are so spot on that it's uncanny at times that it's not the real Elvis on screen. It's an award-worthy performance. The rest of the cast turns into great roles as well, especially those who play the other singers before they became household names. But then there is Tom Hanks, who really hasn't turned in a good performance whatsoever since Catch Me If You Can over twenty years ago, with maybe a small exception of News of The World. Hanks is hugely miscast as an old, crotchety, creepy con man with an accent that just misses the mark. One day, one can hope that Hanks returns to form a comedy, but until then, everyone will have to settle and roll their eyes with each film he says "Yes" to.
Elvis has some great elements to it, mostly Butler's performance and the music selections and sequences that Luhrmann has conjured up under his own beautiful, glitzy, unique style. Unfortunately, it's just too uneven and long to be the ultimate Elvis movie. But of course, with Luhrmann and his wike's costume design, the sets and costumes are simply gorgeous and perfect.
Vital Disc Stats: The HD Blu-ray
Elvis sings its way to Blu-ray + DVD + Digital Code via Warner Bros. The discs are housed inside a hard, blue plastic case with a cardboard sleeve. The artwork features Elvis staring into the distance with his guitar. There is an insert for a digital copy.
Elvis comes to town with a great 1080p HD transfer that is beautiful and crisp. The 4K with Dolby Vision option is the better one to go with, but this 1080p image does a good job. The colors pop in true Elvis fashion when he's on stage. His pink suits and cars look amazing and the bright lights of Las Vegas that reign in reds, greens, purples, and everything in between look excellent. The sequences when Elvis is younger give way to a sandier image full of muted greens, blues, and browns. But once Elvis grows up and becomes popular, those colors burst with emotion.
Black levels are deep and the skin tones are natural. The detail is sharp and vivid with the right amount of film grain in select scenes to induce those nostalgic and period-piece tones. Unlike the 4K picture, this 1080p image has some mild banding, video noise, and black crushed black levels at times. It's not a major complaint, but these issues do crop up. Other than that, this image looks solid.
This release comes with an outstanding Dolby Atmos track that just oozes rock n roll around every corner. The sound effects are robust and loud, whether it be one of the vehicles driving past screaming fans, mic checks at concerts and at stadiums, or a strum of the guitar string. All sounds are fantastic and nuanced here with the natural reverb at big studio halls or soundstages. Each song cue lights up the entire speaker system and each note rings out true. The low end of bass is on a consistent train of rumble whether it be a live performance or a music cue.
Ambient noises of fans screaming and yelling, music playing in a city club, or of stage lights turning on all sound off nicely. The height speakers give way to screaming fans in balconies or casino sounds that might come from above. Those dynamic ranges are wide and allow for a great immersive experience, especially when Elvis is in his element on stage with a big band. The dialogue is crisp, clean, and easy to follow with those iconic accents on display. There are no issues with audio problems to speak of.
Elvis from Baz Luhrmann is certainly a visual spectacle of epic proportions. Its unique style and an amazing performance from Butler are award-worthy. It's just too bad that the film doesn't stick its landing in its overly long run time. This 1080p HD picture looks good and the Dolby Atmos track sounds amazing. The bonus features are standard but feature just about all the key players here. Worth A Look!