Rocketman Has Screened, See What People Are Saying

Taron Egerton as Elton John in Rocketman
(Image credit: (Paramount))

On the heels of the worldwide box office phenomenon known as Bohemian Rhapsody comes another tribute to a popular music icon who rose to fame in the ‘70s and loved to don a glittery get-up: Rocketman. Taron Egerton stars as Elton John in a biopic/musical framed around his breakthrough years.

Ahead of its theatrical release in a couple weeks, Rocketman has now premiered at Cannes Film Festival in France to a standing ovation from the crowd. That’s certainly a good sign! But did it lift off and soar in critics' eyes? Let’s take a look at some of the first reactions about the fantasy musical.

CinemaBlend's own Sean O'Connell is now in London doing interviews for Rocketman. Before that, he had a chance to see the movie and shared his rave review:

We can talk about Rocketman? It’s FANTASTIC. A wonderful, emotional and uplifting musical that weaves Elton John’s classics into a heartbreaking ode to fame. Taron Egerton is BRILLIANT and Dexter Fletcher stages jaw-dropping musical interludes. A home run!

That's a great start! Rebecca Keegan of The Hollywood Reporter sounds like she was absolutely floored by the film. Take a look:

Hot damn, Taron Egerton is the real deal. Rocketman is a musical about picking yourself up off your ass and Taron delivers the sweat, grit and vulnerability it needs.

Along with loving Taron Egerton’s iteration of the music sensation, she praised it for the “I’m Still Standing” message. The actor worked closely with the Elton John himself, even having to sing and act with John in front of him, which he understandably found to be extremely intimidating. The iconic musician has been quite supportive of Egerton though.

Not everyone was completely convinced by Egerton’s performance though. The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw felt he didn’t quite hit every note with these words:

Dexter Fletcher’s Rocketman is a good-natured biopic-slash-jukebox-musical with Taron Egerton gamely doing a middleweight impersonation, more comfortable with the lighter side, better at the tiaras than the tantrums.

When it comes to the dramatic aspects of Rocketman, Bradshaw didn’t feel like he sold it. Conversely, Stuart Oldham of Variety specifically pointed out the more somber moments of the film hitting a high for him. Here’s what he said:

Rocketman is fantastic, a musical drama that hits all the right notes, especially the sad ones.

Elton John’s husband of 26 years, John Furnish, recently watched the flick and said his personal struggles at the beginning of his career and prior to their life together made him want to give John a hug. Considering some of these reactions, as an audience we may collectively be feeling the same way as the film discusses his stint in rehab and sexual identity.

A couple months ago, there were rumors that Paramount had cut a “nude cuddle” between Taron Egerton’s Elton and Richard Madden’s John Reid due to the studio pulling back on the film’s adult content. This reaction from NY Times’ Kyle Buchanan indicates Rocketman does not steer away from portraying his sexuality. In his words:

Pleasantly surprised that Rocketman does not skimp on the gay sex, but the gayest thing about the movie is still Taron Egerton insisting he’s fat when he isn’t.

One primary criticism of last year’s Bohemian Rhapsody was the way it shied away from completely exploring Mercury’s relationships with men – Rocketman won’t be making that mistake. Richard Madden’s role is also gaining recognition as well. Here’s what Anne Thompson of IndieWire had to say:

Richard Madden is swaggeringly hot as Elton John’s manager John Reid who was also the villain in Bohemian Rhapsody. He really would make a great James Bond.

Comparisons to the Queen biopic just keep coming up! In addition to the film sharing a bit of the same subject matter and Dexter Fletcher being involved as director in both, it also includes one of the same villains. To round out the reactions, check out Ramin Setoodeh’s thoughts:

Rocketman is thankfully better than Bohemian Rhapsody. But it also feels like a Broadway musical that was forced into a movie. Or, The Greatest Showman set at the Abbey.

It looks like the movie is a lot more musical than biopic, but it still works better than the Queen film in his opinion. The Variety bureau chief also caught a sweet video of Taron Egerton’s own reaction upon seeing the film and watching the audience’s reaction at Cannes. Take a look:

The actor looks both happy and overwhelmed at his Rocketman debut! The 29-year-old actor is still fairly new to the industry and still best known for his Kingsman role. After the premiere, he and Elton John took to the stage to perform the song “Rocketman” together, captured by The Hollywood Reporter:

Wow! The actor has found a duet partner in Elton John before when they sang “Tiny Dancer” at an Oscars party in February. The pair look energized by the film’s screening in this performance. It was no doubt an emotional day for the both of them seeing their work on the film (and for John, quite literally his life’s work) finally premiere.

Rocketman hits theaters on May 31 and is expected to open at around $20 million during its first weekend as Godzilla: King of the Monsters presumably tops the musical.

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.