Eppler Movie Review: ‘Elvis’

Published: Jul. 7, 2022 at 10:52 AM CDT
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LUBBOCK, Texas (KJTV) - In a summer dominated by dinosaurs, superheros and Tom Cruise, there’s another larger than life figure demanding our attention. ‘Elvis’ works to stand out from the countless other movies made about the rock icon’s career. And it does, but not always in the best ways.

“Elvis” plays like a highlight reel of The King’s career. Over more than two and a half hours, writer and director Baz Luhrmann tries to cover so much that the movie spreads itself too thin — rarely digging in anywhere. The movie is most interested in the relationship between Elvis and his manager, the infamous Colonel Tom Parker.

Austin Butler is quite good as Elvis — a daunting task considering people make an entire living impersonating The King. But Butler is doing more than that. It’s a deeply felt performance that’s not cartoonish.

On the other hand, Tom Hanks is terribly miscast as Parker. One of our finest actors is laboring awfully hard under pounds of makeup and a fat suit. But he can never disappear into the role, and Lurhmann’s script provides the character no nuance beyond a cigar chomping villain.

That’s a fatal flaw for the movie because it’s told from Parker’s perspective - a dubious decision at best. The movie also works too hard to smooth out the rough edges of Evlis’ personal life.

But there are some things to admire here. Luhrmann knows his way around a music performance - his Moulin Rouge is still a favorite. His “Elvis” picture is lively and attractive. The movie’s best sequences are early on — explaining how Elvis’ music was so inspired by Black culture set against the backdrop of a country that was changing.

But overall, the movie is mostly style without much substance.

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