Tag Archives: Richard Madden

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.

The Take (2016) Movie Review by John Walsh (aka Bastille Day)


Director: James Watkins
Writers: Andrew Baldwin (screenplay),  James Watkins
Stars: Idris Elba,  Richard Madden,  Charlotte Le Bon

James Watkins’s third feature film sees him make a departure from horror and tackle the action/drama genre with Bastille Day. It’s a taut and pacy affair, which follows a young pickpocket inadvertently caught up in a suspected Parisian terrorist attack and his attempts to clear his name, whilst finding the real culprits alongside an uncompromising CIA agent.

Beginning with three distinct introductory scenes for what will be the three main protagonists in the film. The first of these is Michael Mason (Richard Madden), opening right in the middle of a hustle involving a young, nude woman, being used as a diversion, as the adept, young, hustler moves in and deftly lifts passports and other valuables. We then meet Sean Briar (Idris Elba), a CIA agent, who’s being grilled by two superiors for presumably doing something (it never does say what), before he’s handed the punishment of a surveillance gig in Paris (if that’s what the CIA deems a punishment then I’m in the wrong job). Finally, it introduces Zoe (Charlotte Le Bon), a conflicted young woman, embroiled in what appears to be a terrorist cell, just as she’s about to plant a bomb in the offices of what looks like a political candidate. She’s startled by cleaning staff however and, not expecting anyone to be there, she gets cold feet.

Zoe and Michael’s paths intertwine immediately afterwards, essentially kickstarting the films story, when the latter witnesses the young woman making a frantic and distressed call to explain her earlier failure to plant the bomb. Thinking that there’s something valuable inside the bag by her side, he decides to move in and steal it. Of course, he bites off more than he can chew, and upon discovering a teddy inside, he discards it in the middle of a busy, little square, effectively implicating himself in a terrorist attack when the explosive device inside detonates seconds later. Realising this after scanning around the scene, Michael smartly decides to leave the area sharpish. Unfortunately for poor old Michael though, this is the 21st century and there’s a little thing known as a surveillance camera that’s dotted across most major cities. His face is soon plastered all over the French news and his identity very much in the conscience of the CIA (who just happened to be running a surveillance operation, which was handy).

Briar who initially comes after Mason, believing him to be responsible, has a brief and quite cool, cat and mouse chase with the latter across the Parisian roofs, through an unsuspecting mans home, descending down into a mobbed market and finally ending with a brutal take down off a stolen motorcycle. It doesn’t take long for him to realise that the Las Vegas native, Mason, isn’t responsible for the attack, at least not on his own anyone, following a quick and sadly lacklustre interrogation scene. There’s an escape made by Mason in between, but the pair eventually combine forces to try and track down the elusive Zoe. There’s once again some back and forth chasing between the trio, and another very cool, choreographed scene, involving Mason as he enters Zoe’s peroxide abusing, friends pub and rather nicely shows his hustling talents once again, setting up multiple distractions, before quickly nicking in and stealing the friends ID. When the trio finally do cross paths and work together (this is becoming a pattern), Sean makes the startling discovery of a Police badge in Zoe’s dead, terrorist come double agent, lovers apartment.

Thus the film enters its final act full of twists, conspiracies and revelations. You see, it wasn’t a planned terrorist attack at all, but a conspiracy involving a government official and RAPID, an elite, rogue police swat team. The official, Victor Gamieux (José Garcia), head of intelligence in the French government has been stoking up hate crime in the facist, right wing elements of the populace via a proxy group to create the ultimate distraction, whilst he and his rogue officers conduct an elaborate heist worth half a billion dollars. Got that? Yeah, I know what you’re probably thinking, that’s quite a convoluted story for a popcorn, action, flick. To make matters worse, members of the RAPID team have infiltrated the extremist cells as double agents and it’s slowly unraveled to the viewer in a series of small eureka moments. I actually enjoyed the fairly complex nature (ok, it wasn’t THAT complex, but it’s a bloody action film) of the story towards the end and the way it was revealed. Watkins did a good job of slowly breaking it down and leaving one final twist at the end which acted as a nice, redemptive, conclusion to the troubled Masons arc.

Before I quickly break down performances, I want to start by saying that although I enjoyed this film for what it was, those American accents from Elba and Madden were just painful on the ear. I mean brutally bad. Elba did what he usually does and delivered a good, solid performance as Briar. Accent aside, he showcased his talents here, not to mention a propensity for some good action sequences. I think this guy should definitely be the next James Bond. It would break down barriers in that franchise and he possesses everything requires for the role. Madden was solid enough as Mason too and managed to share the leading role with Elba, effectively portraying the troubled, runway, hustler without much fuss. I enjoyed Le Bon’s performance as Zoe and I thought she added some emotional resonance at points, but also her fair share of gnarliness too. An honourable mention to Garcia who was also decent as the sly, villainous Gamieux. His character almost reminded me of an Emperor light as he sat in the background pulling the strings like a puppeteer.

I enjoyed this film quite a bit more than I expected, but out with a few notable exceptions, I’m not usually the type of person to watch an action film, so that’s perhaps not surprising. It wasn’t perfect by any means and there’s definitely some moments which require a suspension of disbelief. Despite that, it’s still an enjoyable 90 minute flick with some good performances and if you’re bored with a couple of hours to burn then I’d certainly recommend giving it a blast.