Tag Archives: Dexter Fletcher

Rocketman (2019) Blu-Ray Movie Review By D.M. Anderson


Rocketman Review

Director: Dexter Fletcher
Writer: Lee Hall
Starring: Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Richard Madden, Bryce Dallas Howard, Stephen Graham, Gemma Jones, Jason Pennycooke, Steven Mackintosh, Sharon D. Clarke, Tate Donovan, Kit Connor.

Since we all really liked Bohemian Rhapsody, I took my entire family to see Rocketman when it was released in theatres. I’ve always enjoyed music bios, and particularly interesting are those about artists I clearly remember at the height of their popularity. Like Queen, Elton John’s music was a big part of my childhood.

I tend to pay little attention to press or reviews of movies I’m already intent on seeing, so other than its subject, its star (Taron Egerton) and obviously the music, I knew relatively little about Rocketman going in. Considering his wild life and countless classic songs, any movie with Elton John as its subject would be inherently interesting.

But as the film opened, something unexpectedly wonderful happened. Decked-out in one of his trademark stage costumes, a worn and weary Elton John sits down with a support group and counts-off his numerous addictions. When the counsellor asks about his childhood, John begins to quietly sing. Though it sounds like a melancholy ballad, I recognised the lyrics to “The Bitch is Back.” The scene morphs into a huge production number taking place on the street of his childhood home, with dancers, back-up singers and a young Reggie Dwight (Elton’s real name) belting-out the sassy chorus.

My wife gasped in surprise. My musical-loving oldest daughter quickly clapped with joy. The unexpected rush I felt was the same as when I first saw that massive Imperial Star Destroyer enter the top of the frame in the opening scene from Star Wars. Rocketman wasn’t just a music bio…it was a full-blown musical.

With 20/20 hindsight, of course it is. How could any movie about rock & roll’s most fearlessly flamboyant frontman not be?

I suppose comparisons to Bohemian Rhapsody are inevitable, though not entirely fair. Both take dramatic liberties with the facts and timeline, but Rocketman is more than an episodic love letter to its subject. Elton’s life and songs are basically re-imagined, not only for dramatic purposes, but to turn his story into an epic musical fantasy with the glamour and audacity befitting of its subject. The film is filled with brilliantly-conceived musical numbers featuring his best-known songs. But they aren’t isolated pieces of gratuitous window dressing. The numbers are sequenced in a manner that they become part of the narrative and the songs themselves feel almost autobiographical, despite the varied lyrical subject matter.

Though only superficially resembling Elton John, Taron Egerton’s performance is every bit as remarkable as Rami Malek’s portrayal of Freddie Mercury, plus he does his own singing (as does the rest of the cast). As depicted in the film, John is a complicated character who is – by turns – insecure, lonely, egotistical, self-loathing, resentful, sensitive, petty and narcissistic. Egerton convincingly demonstrates all those traits, yet still keeps his character likeable. Otherwise, sequences featuring “Saturday Night’s Alright for Fighting,” “Crocodile Rock” and “Rocket Man” wouldn’t be nearly as engaging, nor would we care whether or not he wins the battle against his demons.

Regarding Elton John’s sexuality, Rocketman is certainly braver than Bohemian Rhapsody, but that’s not ultimately what makes it a better film. The narrative is more cohesive, the main character more complex and his story more vividly presented, enhanced by knock-out musical numbers. It’s as fun as Elton’s songs and – so far – the most purely entertaining movie of the year.

Rocketman (2019) Movie Review By The Moviie Couple

Rocketman Review

Director: Dexter Fletcher
Writer: Lee Hall
Stars: Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Richard Madden

Moviie Couple here!   We went to see Rocketman this weekend!  Remember we are just a married couple that loves movies!  We’re here to tell you if we liked it.  Film experts we are not!  Just a quick reminder of our rating system. Mrs. Moviie Couple and I, rate films on whether they are worth the cash spent on a night out.  we use a 1-6 Dollar Bill system.  1-2 Bills equal a waste of both our time and money!  3-4 Bills equal Meh to Pretty Good, money well spent!  5-6 Bills equal Wow!  Well worth the price of dinner, movie and sitter!  Please take our money again!

Rocketman tells the life story of Elton John.  His rise to fame from his childhood home in the Pinner area of London to the world wide success as a mega star is covered in this bio-pic.  We see the  various relationships that formed who he was and more importantly who he grew to become.  The film focuses on his life from childhood to his sobriety years well into his fantastical (He was Captain Fantastic after all) career.  The film is directed by Dexter Fletcher of Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels and Eddie The Eagle fame and stars Taron Egerton as Elton himself with Jamie Bell co starring as lifelong musical partner Bernie Taupin, a nearly unrecognisable Bryce Dallas Howard as his Mum, and Richard Madden as John Reid the infamous paramour and Music Manager.  As one would expect many of Sir Elton’s hit songs are spread throughout the film in expected and many unexpected ways.  Huge musical performances, drama, excess of alcohol, drugs, shopping and food and many ,many sequinned costume changes are met along the way!  Well the curtain rises, wrap your boa around your neck, throw on your bedazzled glasses and lets all say goodbye to the yellow brick road and get to the reviews!

So here we go!

Mr. Moviie Couple:  I was not expecting to be enthralled by a bio pic, I love true stories, but you sort of know what your getting going in.  I have to say Rocketman grabbed me early with its unorthodox start!  Right from the opening scene, this film pulled me in and let me know this was not going to be a by the numbers biography movie!  Even in a movie like this we don’t spoil, so that will be all I say about that.  As a fan of Elton John’s music (isn’t everyone?) I admit I was ignorant about much of his personal life.  This movie gave me all I needed to actually feel for young Reginald Dwight, the boy that would grow up to become Elton Hercules John.  The dramatic pieces hit me in all the right spots.  All the actors shine in this movie, but let’s be honest it swims or sinks on the performance of Taron Egerton.  I am pleased to tell you his portrayal of the Rocketman soars!  The pain and doubt he displays as Elton struggles through life, pre and post success, is seen all over his face.  He relays what Elton is feeling and words are not even necessary!  Bell and Madden seem to embody both Taupin and Reid as well.  Just captivating performances throughout really.  Dallas Bryce Howard also shines as a Mom not even a son could love.  The way this movie places Elton’s songs throughout the film maybe not be in order of release (I’m not knowledgeable enough to say), but shows up in times of Elton’s life where they relate the most and are placed perfectly.  As were the numbers!  Yes, I said musical numbers, not just performances (which again headdresses off to Mr. Egerton as he actually sings the songs himself).  The numbers break out in fantasy/imagination scenes as Elton remembers key moments of his life!   This is like a hybrid bio pic/Broadway musical and it’s all a hit!  I learned a lot about Sir Elton and enjoyed this film the entire time!

For a film that didn’t involve hammer wielding superheroes, radioactive lizards or invincible hitmen this movie blew me away!  I gave Rocketman a solid 5 Bills!  Great performances, full blown musical numbers!  Just a great time.

Mrs. Moviie Couple:  She was surprised by the unexpected format the movie took in telling its story!  She did not expect it to become a full blown musical, she was expecting something similar to Bohemian Rhapsody.  As a huge fan of Broadway, she was delighted!  She could easily see this film adapted to the Broadway stage and being even more successful.  She loved Taron Egerton’s acting!  She felt he actually was Elton John, his resemblance and performance took her breath away!  She commented on what a great actor he is and how he doesn’t get enough credit for his versatility.  How he can play both tough action hero in the Kingsman films and then vulnerable and sweet as seen in Eddie the Eagle and now Rocketman.  The film nearly brought her to tears at times.  She found the film full of emotions and left her with a deep sense of how a negative childhood could be overcome to bring out the best in a person.  She found the costumes and music all matched the flair that Elton had become famous for back in his younger years!  She loved the end credits as well, during them we are told how Elton is doing today and shown real life photos of the scenes Egerton recaptured so accurately.  She would see it again in a heartbeat and can’t wait to see if it really does go to Broadway!  Mrs. Moviie Couple gives Rocketman 6 Bills!!! Yes, I believe that is the first 6 Bills given out by the Mrs.!!!

On the way home, We talked the entire way home!  We discussed Egerton’s performance, his singing, the musical numbers!  We both loved the unique way the story was told.  Before we arrived home we were playing Elton John in the car, which is quite the endorsement.  I give it 5 Bills, just a great film with a unique vision.  The Mrs. gives it 6 Bills!  She wanted to see it again!  She was touched by the drama and absolutely loved the musical numbers!  So we’ll go with an average of 5.5 Wow!  Great time out, worth the money and highly recommended!

Till then, Hold your tiny dancers close and we’ll see you at the movies!  Be sure to check our facebook page for a clue to our next movie up for review!  Mr. & Mrs. Moviie Couple out!

Rocketman (2019) Movie Review By Philip Henry


Director: Dexter Fletcher
Screenwriter: Lee Hall
Stars: Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Richard Madden

I’m not a big Elton John fan. I like a lot of his 70s output and a few other songs here and there, so I come to this not knowing very much about his personal life.

The film starts with Elton in a rehab meeting, dressed a little more flamboyantly than anyone else, he begins to tell the story of what led him here. As a young boy growing up in post-war London young Reggie Dwight, for that is his real name, shows an aptitude for piano. His father is aloof and distant towards the boy and his mother – a barely recognisable Bryce Dallas Howard – is more concerned with chasing her own desires than her son’s future. So the only encouragement comes from his grandmother, who takes him to study at the Royal Academy of Music.

Young Reggie soon gets his first gig in his local pub and that is the catalyst for the film’s first big musical number, and it is impressive! Where this film differs from Bohemian Rhapsody, to which it will no doubt be compared, is this film is a musical in the true MGM sense of the word. During the narrative, people break into Elton’s back catalogue and start singing their feelings, and in the scene where we transition from young Reggie to teenage Reggie, it’s an all singing, all dancing extravaganza. These moments of musical fantasy happen throughout the film and it’s impossible not to have a big wide grin on your face when they do. They’re full of joy and energy and that’s something I think a lot of modern musicals lack.

Teenage Reggie gets a job in a backing band and hones his craft, and discovers his sexual leanings, but no matter how good a piano player he is, he’s unable to get a record deal without original songs. So they pair him up with lyricist Bernie Taupin and history is made. I must say a word about Jamie Bell at this point. I’ve never really liked him as an actor. He always came across as arrogant in interviews and I think he was over-rated by British critics when he did Hollywood movies. I remember a certain reviewer saying Bell ran rings around Hayden Christensen in Jumper, but I couldn’t see it. I thought they were both fine, but neither noticeably better than the other. Anyway, I will eat my words with this performance. Anyone who has ever heard Bernie Taupin interviewed will know he has a very strange accent, and Bell nails it perfectly. His whole restrained performance is the yang to Egerton’s manic yin, as Elton descends into alcoholism and drug addiction.

If you wondered how much Dexter Fletcher really contributed to Bohemian Rhapsody, this film will make you wonder how much Bryan Singer actually did on it. Fletcher seems more at home in this genre than Singer would ever be, maybe because he started his career long ago on the classic children’s musical Bugsy Malone – yes, he was Baby Face, remember?

This is easily Fletcher’s most confident and creatively interesting movie to date. The song and dance sequences are carried off with aplomb, and the recreations of Elton’s performance in Tommy and some of his music videos will make a lot of fans smile. It’s not all fun and games though, Elton’s destructive relationship with his manager John Reid (Richard Madden) will really make you feel for the kid who gets too much too soon, but Fletcher is just as accomplished with these small, emotional scenes as he is at recreating huge concerts.

Taron Egerton throws himself into the role wholeheartedly and captures the energy and excitement of Elton’s early live performances with the swagger and poise of the man himself. His cocaine and alcohol addiction isn’t lingered on as much as it probably should be, but even this serves to keep the film upbeat and entertaining.

I’m a much bigger Queen fan than I am an Elton fan, but I have to admit, this is the better movie. Its scale, invention and sheer exuberance elevate it way above your average biopic.

Wild Bill (2011) Movie Retro Review by John Walsh


Director: Dexter Fletcher
Writers: Danny King, Dexter Fletcher
Stars: Charlie Creed-Miles, Will Poulter, Sammy Williams

Whilst Wild Bill is now seven years old, I think the picture of inequality it paints or highlights in London is every bit as relevant in today’s society. With the recent Grenfell Tower tragedy and other alarming side effects of Tory austerity beginning to manifest themselves, anybody that wants a realistic insight into what life is really like in essentially the inner city slums of 21st century Britain, should look no further. Dexter Fletcher has really done a remarkable job with this one, putting together a fantastic British cast that really bring this story to life.

In short, it’s a tale of redemption, about the struggle of one man and his growing desire to be a father, provide for and protect his two sons. The titular character, Wild Bill (Charlie Creed-Miles), is the protagonist and man mentioned. His oldest son, Dean (Will Poulter) has assumed the role of guardian in his absence with his mother too having disappeared abroad with her boyfriend and it would be fair to say he’s not over enthusiastic about his father entering his life again. He’s self sufficient and shows a maturity way beyond his youthful age of just sixteen.

Meanwhile, the younger son, Jimmy (Sammy Williams), is like a chip off the old block, readily following in his fathers delinquency. A mere child, he’s already taken to bunking off school, smoking spliffs and eventually falls foul of the local, predatory drug dealer, Terry (Leo Gregory) and his goons led by Pill (Iwan Rheon). He soon finds himself being manipulated into being a drug mule, dealing around the estate, even as the blissfully unaware Bill fends off insults with a calm exterior that belies his mad reputation and tries with all his being to become a better person and parent.

In the midst of all this, Dean, who’s working as a builder on an Olympics related project, begins to slowly develop a relationship with both his father and Steph (Charlotte Spencer), a local girl and single mother who’s landed with her often comatose, drunkard of a father, Adam (Marc Warren). With both these budding relationships being emotionally precarious at best. The equilibrium of the latter is sent wayward when Jimmy sneaks into Steph’s house and steals cash in a vain attempt to appease Terry. This turns out to be the turning point as Roxy (Liz White), an often abused person to say the least, let’s slip to Bill about his youngest boys predicament.

What comes next is a tense, nervous confrontation and standoff between both Bill and Terry (with his goons) in a local pub. The fight that takes place is quick, well choreographed and incredibly fun to watch. Bill finally displays the pyscho side that earned him his ‘Wild’ man nickname by beating the crap out of everyone there. This is probably my favourite scene in the entire film, which is saying something because there’s quite a few good ones. It just about beats the ending with Serkis’ Glen (a gangster), struggling to keep his passive aggression in check.

Thematically, Fletcher is clearly trying to tell a story of redemption in Bill’s character whilst almost certainly highlighting the disgraceful living standards of large swathes of inner city London. At that point, it was the austerity obsessed Cameron in charge, don’t forget. There was a few great shots in Wild Bill, but none better encapsulate the sheer ludicrousness of this than the sight of the London stadium and regenerated Olympic park sitting right beside impoverished estates where young children are abused with dealers and survive on toast for their dinners. If they’re lucky.

The cast as a whole delivered a wonderful ensemble performance with an array of British stars turning up for cameos. The most notable being Andy Serkis and Sean Pertwee. Creed-Miles was phenomenal here, his characters transformation from a downtrodden, beaten man with no home into a father figure with new vigour was a pleasure to witness and much of that was down to the performance. Will Poulter was also extremely impressive as Dean. A mature, young man with way too much pressure on his youthful shoulders that also goes through a rollercoaster of emotions upon meeting his father again.

Sammy Williams did a great job as the young Jimmy, whilst Leo Gregory played the role of the predatory, manipulative Terry with convincing ease. I was going to refer to him as a villain, but in reality he always came across as a rather timid chap and never truly convinced as a proper villain. Iwan Rheon of Ramsey Bolton fame was almost unrecognisable in this role, complete with saggy jeans and an embarrassing, wannabe street gangster lingo. Special mention also to Liz White, an actress I’ve always admired especially since her Life on Mars days. She played a vulnerable, trouble lady in Roxy very well.

Overall, I think this is a brilliant film with a plethora of positives and not many negatives. I can’t actually think of any, other than it may be a slightly difficult watch for those outwith the UK. It’s a very British centric film, but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t give it a blast if you live elsewhere. At just an hour and half long, it’s a well worth a watch.

Rating: 3.5/5

Eddie the Eagle (2016) Movie Review by Stephen McLaughlin


Director: Dexter Fletcher 
Writers: Sean Macaulay (screenplay), Simon Kelton (screenplay) 
Stars: Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman, Tom Costello 

This is the story of Eddie Edwards, the British underdog Ski Jumper who won the hearts of the world at the Winter Olympics in 1988.

Eddie the Eagle is a feel-good story (inspired by true events about Eddie Edwards (Taron Egerton), a courageous Ski Jumper who never stopped believing in himself.

The movie begins with a young Eddie in 1973, struggling in a leg brace trying to pursue his Olympic dream with no success whatsoever. His battle is not just against his lack of skill and whilst his mother played by Jo Hartley (David Brent – Life on the Road) is very supportive, his father Terry played by Keith Allen (Fat Les) is hugely frustrated at his son’s ambitions and instead wanting him to follow in the family plastering tradition.

With the help of reluctant coach Bronson Peary (played by Hugh Jackman) who portrays the drunk washed up trainer that takes Eddie from being a wannabe to an Olympic athlete.

The chemistry between Egerton and Jackman is just right and at no point does Jackman overshadow the up and coming Egerton who made his name as Gary ‘Eggsy’ Unwin in “Kingsman: The Secret Service” back in 2014.

Egerton embraces the role and the characteristics (with his on spot facial expressions) of the real Eddie Edwards really makes the audience root for the underdog. Eddie is a character that you cannot dislike.

For anyone who isn’t sure or even heard of Eddie the Eagle. Don’t expect him to go from Hero to Zero with a collection of Olympic Gold Medals at the end of this movie.

The film primarily takes place in mid 1987 and Bronson Peary even mentions that it would take years to become a successful Olympian in Sky Jumping.

Eddie decided on ski jumping even though he didn’t know anything about it and was told repeatedly (mostly by Peary and the Norwegian team) that, even in his early 20s, he was way too old to learn it and get good at it. But he still gave it his best shot.

Eddie’s take on the Olympics and Life itself is to do your best no matter what the outcome is. To quote Pierre de Coubertin (father of the modern Olympics) “The important thing in the Olympic Games is not to win, but to take part; the important thing in Life is not triumph, but the struggle; the essential thing is not to have conquered but to have fought well.”

Not only is Eddie up against it with his Jumping skills (or should be Landing in the early stages) He is also up against a very staunch British Olympic Committee who make it clear to him that they “don’t like his sort” and in particular by Olympic selector Dustin Target, played by Tim McInnerny (Black Adder)

This movie provides a great amount of entertainment and there are plenty of comedic moments with Taron Egerton at the center of all of them. Highly recommended.