There is nothing more depressing than listening to music from the 1950s. Not because 50s music is bad, its because nothing exposes the societal rot of the United States of America more than looking at what was considered music 70 years ago versus what is considered music in 2022.
From Ray Charles, Little Richard, Pasty Cline, and Frank Sinatra to Cardi B, Megan Thee Stallion, Lil Nas X, and Billie Eilish. It’s has been a sharp and steep crash to the bottom for American society. Now depending on how you look at the history of our country, the beginning of that fall can be traced to Elvis Presley.
Elvis is considered the King of Rock N Roll and considered by most to be the first mainstream music superstar. Elvis was an original but he was the blueprint for the modern star music industry superstar, for better or worse. When you watch the trailer to Elvis, you get the feeling that whoever made the movie didn’t have a very favorable view of the star but watching it is a different story because Elvis is very much an empathic look at the life of The King.
Told from the perspective of Elvis Presley’s former manager, Colonel Tom Parker played by Tom Hanks, back in the 1950s, Parker is a carnival huckster playing upon the gullible nature of his audience. One day, Parker stumbles upon a young kid named Elvis Presley (Austin Butler) on the radio and after attending a show, he sees his effect on the female audience and persuades Presley to become his new manager.
Presley isn’t accepted in 1950s America given his live performances that are described as perverted and provocative. From there the film becomes a rise and fall story of a man who took the world by storm, became the biggest music star in the world, and fell from grace after discovering that Parker isn’t the man that he claimed to be.
Austin Butler is phenomenal as Elvis Presley, Butler took some heat for his lack of resemblance to the King but his performance takes care of all doubters. The mannerisms and style is just like Elvis proving that casting made the right decision on Butler.
The film recreates numerous live performances from Elvis’s past bringing the music star back to life for new audiences who were not old enough to live through them. Tom Hanks puts in a lot of work to recreate Tom Parker physically but one can’t help but be taken out by his laughable dixie accent. This is a film that would have improved tenfold with another actor at the helm but with Hanks being the most marketing star, the film is stuck with a narrative-busting performance.
Hanks is the narrator and the perspective of the movie. His character is a textbook example of shady Hollywood types who take advantage of young promising talent to the point where the eventual ending of that person is sad and depressing.
Elvis is very much a warning of the effects of fame and how it damages one’s life and family. Elvis loses his mother, his marriage, his freedom, and later his own life thanks to the dark side of fame.
Elvis does walk the line of certain social issues of its time period being the assassination of Martin Luther King and John F Kennedy. The writing is messy at times which given the fact there are four screenwriters is almost a given. But for a period piece that gives audiences a window of America from the 50s to the 70s, Elvis is a entertaining movie in spite of its flaws and the musical performances will keep audiences engaged throughout a lengthy runtime of 159 minutes.