Esther McCarthy reviews Rocketman and Aladdin
Rocketman (15A) *****
Taron Egerton reteams with director Dexter Fletcher, who he worked with on Eddie the Eagle, to deliver a rock musical every bit as flamboyant and over the top as its subject matter in his heyday.
Trussed up in giant feathered headpieces and stage outfits, Elton John in his early years didn’t have a subtle bone in his body, and it seems fitting that neither does the movie which tells his story.
It’s a good thing there’s so much verve and colour because in its early scenes, Rocketman veers dangerously close to standard rock-biopic territory. There are, after all, elements of the star’s story that in the wrong hands could have become cliched - the daddy issues, the complicated home life, the drugs and the burnout.
Thankfully, the cast and crew never allow it to be so, and the whole story - starting with his childhood and telling of his musical breakthrough, close friendship with Bernie Taupin (an excellent Bell) and his gradual meltdown - is told through some of the singer’s greatest hits, ably performed by Egerton himself.
Aladdin (G) ***
Will Smith brings his swagger to the table as the genie in this movie, which sticks closely to the original tale, with a couple of notable exceptions. Played by Naomi Scott, Princess Jasmine feels more fleshed out than in the animated film, and is given more to do.
A colourful, though repetitive opening sequence introduces Aladdin (Mena Massoud) as a streetwise young urchin who, when he’s finished helping himself, has no qualms about grabbing food from market stalls to feed other poor folk.
A chance encounter with the princess (he doesn’t know her true identity) leaves him smitten but there are other forces at play, including a power struggle at the palace which could have huge implications for the entire kingdom.
There are dance moves that are almost Bollywood in style and an overall sense of fun, but ultimately the whole venture feels overegged.