SMART MOVIE REVIEW: ‘Elvis’ is an over-the-top spectacular event

Published 8:00 am Friday, July 1, 2022

By Ian Omar Smart | Guest Columnist

Now playing at the B&B theater in the Vicksburg Mall, “Elvis,” which details the life of Elvis Presley, is writ large with director Baz Luhrmann’s very specific style of bombast.

While the film’s narrative occupies a very conventional structure, it overcomes its familiar beats by having the film’s aesthetics match the exuberance of the man himself.

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Insane and over-the-top are how I’d describe the new Elvis biopic. Oddly, Luhrmann explores the major beats of Elvis’s life through the recollection of his manager, Colonel Tom Parker (dementedly played by Tom Hanks).

The film chronicles his discovery, army tour, film career and major performances. While not always true to reality, the film manages to communicate the allure of Elvis and how his magnetism energized an entire generation.

The film creates a hyper-real version of the excesses Elvis dwelled within while Austin Butler fully embodies Elvis without ever tilting into parody. It also showcases great interpretations of his artistic contemporaries (Kelvin Harrison Jr. as B.B. King being a standout).

All that remains secondary to the recreations of Elvis’s most iconic performances, and they do not disappoint. The maximalist musical moments are as exciting as anything you’re likely to find playing at the movies. Butler radiates Elvis’s energy as a performer while maintaining the subtleties that make his performance so impressive.

The downside of the film is its length (2 hours and 39 minutes). By the end, the familiarity of its story weighs down many of this film’s charms with performances feeling prolonged and repetitive. The film’s strong ending re-centers the film’s perspective around the enduring talent that sparked such an impactful career. Despite some flaws, “Elvis” prompts some of the most exciting filmmaking of the year and is worth your time. I’d just recommend attending a matinee.

Ian Omar Smart is a graduate of Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University with a degree in architecture. When he’s not drawing buildings, he’s probably at the movies. Smart can be contacted at isiansmart@gmail.com.