Elvis

Elvis ★★★½

Discussed on the First Watch Podcast. Listen here!

If I don't move, I can't sing.

Apex Baz delivers the best spectacle of the summer so far—2022's emphatic response to Spielberg's West Side Story. Maximalist, vivid, explosive, gyrating musical revolution, writ in blues, gospel and more sex than the censors know what to do with. The frenetic Speed Racer-like edit barely gives you room to breathe, while constantly keeping the images and emotions amped to eleven. Austin Butler is a star, and though this script serves him up an overlong and predictable biopic, he sings the hell out of it. After all, what is a good rock 'n roll song if not a simple groove, a simple hook and all your heart and soul poured into each note and swivel of the hips? Hanks' grifter Colonel is less cartoonish than advertised, but a smart, phony carnival barker foil to Presley's glittering sincerity and naiveté. The over-the-top nature of his performance also sneakily makes Butler's more authentic and grounded by contrast, such that you buy his every word and gesture immediately. He is Elvis Presley. The film's hardly perfect and arguably mishandles a lot of history, but it is a potent piece of entertainment with a legitimately electric lead performance.

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