Elvis comes to life on the big screen by director Baz Luhrmann and actor Austin Butler. This unique and dazzling tale of the King of Rock N' Roll looks and sounds wonderful, but the long run time and the uneven pace keep it from hitting its target. That being said, this is an original take on the life and career of Elvis which succeeds in a lot of areas. The 4K presentation with Dolby Vision is amazing and the Dolby Atmos track sounds fantastic. The extras are average, but they feature all the main actors and filmmakers. Worth A Look.
Elvis Aaron Presley is no doubt the King of Rock N' Roll. His music still continues to be praised and inspires current musicians each and every day. For as popular and accessive his life and music were to his fans over numerous decades, the ins and outs of his personal life and music contrast remain uneasy, turbulent, and off-kilter. Director Baz Luhrmann has come to the big screen realm with his vision of the biggest selling artist of all time with his film titled Elvis. While Luhrmann's unique and theatrically dazzling style is all over this film, which can be quite distracting at times, there's no doubt that Austin Butler playing Elvis makes this film worthy of seeing despite its almost three-hour run time.
Luhrmann has never bowed down to Hollywood executives to compromise his stunning vision in telling stories everyone knows by heart, whether it be his own version of Romeo + Juliet, a take on Moulin Rogue!, or a highly valued stylized concept of The Great Gatsby. Luhrmann knows how to set a film on fire with spectacular effects that can fully immerse his audience inside a live stage play with all the hot lights, music, and choreography to keep everyone's toes tapping. The same goes for his Elvis picture, however, Luhrmann once again takes an unconventional approach to tell this tragic tale of Elvis's life and career. With an out-of-the-world performance from Butler and a weird, yet underwhelming role for Tom Hanks, the pacing and the film's length hinder it from being completely enjoyable. But kudos to Luhrmann for doing something creative and original with this biopic that nobody saw coming - telling the hero's story from the villain's eye line.
That villain was Elvis's long-time manager known as "Colonel" Tom Parker (Tom Hanks), who selfishly and sinisterly manipulated Elvis and his family out of millions of dollars for his own gambling debts. As the Colonel exploited Elvis for his own personal gain, Luhrmann allows him to do the same to his audience as Parker narrates a version of Elvis's story to make himself look like an angel. It's a gutsy move and it pays off in an original way. This is not the stereotypical biopic movie and that deserves praise. Luhrmann's way of showcasing the big events in Elvis's life from discovering music, to gospel, and playing with some of the biggest names in music like Big Mama Thorton, Little Richard, and B.B. King are done wonderfully.
It's clear he was a one-of-a-kind prototype musician who was there to change music forever. Unfortunately, like a lot of talented artists, they are easily manipulated by others which resulted in Tom Parker coming aboard and orchestrating a decades-long con on Elvis that prevented him from doing what he wanted. This ultimately led to his turmoil in marriage, his addiction to drugs, and lastly his untimely, sad death. There are great moments of rebellion, his love for his child and mother, and wanting to make the best music and live performance there ever was, which Luhrmann also spotlights as well. But with its long run time and constant flashy sequences, the film can inch away from the story at hand.
Butler is a commanding force on screen. His body language, voice, singing, dancing, and expressions are so spot on that it's uncanny at times that it's not the real Elvis on screen. It's an award-worthy performance. The rest of the cast turns into great roles as well, especially those who play the other singers before they became household names. But then there is Tom Hanks, who really hasn't turned in a good performance whatsoever since Catch Me If You Can over twenty years ago, with maybe a small exception of News of The World. Hanks is hugely miscast as an old, crotchety, creepy con man with an accent that just misses the mark. One day, one can hope that Hanks returns to form a comedy, but until then, everyone will have to settle and roll their eyes with each film he says "Yes" to. Elvis has some great elements to it, mostly Butler's performance and the music selections and sequences that Luhrmann has conjured up under his own beautiful, glitzy, unique style. Unfortunately, it's just too uneven and long to be the ultimate Elvis movie. But of course, with Luhrmann and his wife's costume design, the sets and costumes are simply gorgeous to look at.
Vital Disc Stats: The 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray
Elvis rocks its way to 4K + Blu-ray + Digital Code via Warner Bros. The discs are housed inside a hard, black plastic case with a cardboard sleeve. The artwork features Elvis rocking out against a dazzling outfit background. There is an insert for a digital copy.
Elvis comes to home video with a fantastic 2160p UHD 4K transfer with Dolby Vision. The film was made with a variety of cameras that included a customized lens specifically for the film that gave certain sequences their unique style. The color palette is a brilliant rainbow of colors and tones.
When set in the '50s, the film grain is on display and the color palette is more neutral and vague with yellows, tans, and greys on display. As Elvis gets more popular and as time goes on, the colors become more heightened and bold. Purples, blues, greens, and tons of red are evident and look fantastic. The fantastic pink cars and suits are rich. The Dolby Vision upgrades each and every color in both dark and bright scenes. The nightclubs have their nuanced moldy colors while the inside of a tour bus and luxurious hotel has bright bubble gum colors that just leap off-screen. It's truly a visual feast that looks appetizing. The black levels are inky with zero bleeding or murky shadows and the skin tones are always natural as Elvis's health decays towards the final minutes of the movie.
The detail is sharp and vivid throughout too. Closeups reveal amazing makeup applications, individual jet black hairs, and the incredible textures in each of the King's outfits with each jewel shining brightly. Wider shots of stage props, sets, and the surroundings of Graceland all look pitch-perfect. Nothing looks soft or pixelated here. Film grain is intact through the young Elvis scenes that give it that truly authentic feel of the time. Lastly, there are no problems with banding, aliasing, or video noise to speak of.
This release comes with an outstanding Dolby Atmos track that just oozes rock n roll around every corner. The sound effects are robust and loud, whether it be one of the vehicles driving past screaming fans, mic checks at concerts and at stadiums, or a strum of the guitar string. All sounds are fantastic and nuanced here with the natural reverb at big studio halls or soundstages. Each song cue lights up the entire speaker system and each note rings out true. The low end of bass is on a consistent train of rumble whether it be a live performance or a music cue.
Ambient noises of fans screaming and yelling, music playing in a city club, or of stage lights turning on all sound off nicely. The height speakers give way to screaming fans in balconies or casino sounds that might come from above. Those dynamic ranges are wide and allow for a great immersive experience, especially when Elvis is in his element on stage with a big band. The dialogue is crisp, clean, and easy to follow with those iconic accents on display. There are no issues with audio problems to speak of.
There is only 49 minutes worth of extras here, not counting the 47 minutes of musical selections, but that doesn't really count, since it's just the movie. This collects talking head interviews of the cast and crew talking about making the film.
Elvis from Baz Luhrmann is certainly a visual spectacle of epic proportions. Its unique style and an amazing performance from Butler are award-worthy. It's just too bad that the film doesn't stick its landing in its overly long run time. This 4K image with Dolby Vision looks excellent and the Dolby Atmos track sounds amazing. The bonus features are standard but feature just about all the key players here. Worth A Look!