Baz Lhurman’s ELVIS Review – He’s All Shook Up

We’re not supposed to know everything that helped ELVIS (played by Austin Butler) become the talent that he is in Baz Luhrmann’s film. This filmmaker’s biopic examines his relationship with Colonel Tom Parker (Tom Hanks) foremost. This manager guided the young adult to become the king. In regards to his claim of killing Elvis, my advice is to do check out the additional works about both men. 

After this review, I’ll offer my looks into two of the best supplemental material worth examining. They help fill in the blanks on what this director didn’t want to delve too deep into. One aspect partially left out is with Elvis’ relationship with Priscilla and his daughter. What’s presented on screen felt very short.

Instead, what viewers are getting is a highlight reel of this musician’s struggles with censorship, race, and the media. To see how Elvis discovered music is like having that “Joliet” Jake Blues (John Belushi) experience when he heard gospel for the first time in THE BLUES BROTHERS. I had that experience too when I heard Queen’s “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” back in the 70s. That song was Freddie Mercury’s love letter to Elvis.

And what he learned about African American music as a boy goes beyond studying the Delta Blues and where that sound developed from. We’re supposed to understand it all with just one overhead shot from the camera, but I suspect not everyone will get it. I knew because my post-secondary life was spent studying music and film history.

As a result, having that knowledge helps me appreciate the finer points of a Baz Luhrmann film. He’s inspired by classical mythology and literature. Anyone familiar with his older movies, namely MOULIN ROUGE, knows it’s a retelling of ORPHEUS, and his latest is no different. It’s a take on Christopher Marlowe’s THE TRAGIC HISTORY OF DOCTOR FAUSTUS. The story unfolds from the Devil’s perspective. Tom Hanks’ portrayal is spot on evil without being over the top, and Butler gets to sing and lip-sync to the king! It’s hard to tell which one he’s doing during the film.

Even the soundtrack sets the tone. Half the songs concern just how deep in the rabbit hole Elvis is in. The reconstructions of those black and white television recordings to colour suggests that The Colonel sees gold, or financial gain, by making money out of each appearance Elvis makes. I’m pretty sure Tom earned more and the moral of the story is to always read the fine print.

This director also deconstructs what life during the 50s and 60s was like. He shows the racial tensions and inequality that went on in the music business. Music producers wanted to introduce that African American sound to the masses without the exploitation, and Elvis got lucky to be that person to represent it. Tom was making the contracts while he was picking the songs.

Sadly, Presley’s time in Las Vegas wasn’t as lively and lucrative as he’d liked. Everybody saw how time and The Colonel affected this performer. We don’t need a movie or the tabloids from the era to say it. Luhrmann’s film takes on a different beat, and compares and contrast everything that made up this performer’s glitz, glamour, and fame during his last hurrah.

Being on stage gave Elvis a high. As a result, those endorphins which he gets in front of crowds highlights when he is in control instead of Tom. This movie is great at capturing those crowd reactions when the King is on stage, singing his heart out, but when the drama needs to take a stand, the conflict still feels like second fiddle. In my opinion, he found escape from the devil after popping far too many pills. Whether he knew the dangers or not, it’s obvious death was the only way to escape The Colonel’s firm hold on him. As for whether Tom felt remorse, this film suggests he’s still insane as ever.

For Additional Viewing and Reading


The documentary examines every detail of Luhrmann’s film that wasn’t covered. From his youth to musical influences to his time with the Colonel and baby girl, Lisa Marie, the gambit is covered. This work perfectly covers everything a music historian wants to know and considers how he never got the fame he truly deserved.

Instead of the naïve boy that we see from the 2022 movie, we find that he’s just as smart, too. Technically, he didn’t want to deal with management issues, and turned a blind eye to every manipulation Tom Parker did. His decision resulted in him losing control of everything that could make him a superstar, and perhaps live well into the 80s where the rock n’ roll scene would’ve been a bigger challenge to survive in.

Jason Whyte | Get Reel Movies


This book goes deep into looking at who Tom Parker was, and music journalist Alanna Nash spent a lot of time with the man prior to his death in 1997. Without his trust, I doubt she’d be able to pen this work that delves into the past he hid from everyone but himself.

Instead of publishing this tell all right away, she no doubt spent years fact-checking and searching for the truth. This additional research was needed when considering that Parker had been a huckster. As for why he got into the music business, there’s some detail to reveal that the film didn’t get into.

Although we get a capsule summary in Luhrmann’s ELVIS, the reasons are hard to accept. It’s easy to surmise that his actions were a response to trying to deal with surviving a post-war world, and this man was no exception.

Jason Whyte | Get Reel Movies

ELVIS is now playing in theatres.

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