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ROCKETMAN (2019) – My rating: 9/10

Rocketman is a biographical musical based on the life of Elton John.  The film is  directed by Dexter Fletcher and written by Lee Hall. The movie follows Elton from his early days as a child prodigy to his slightly older years at the Royal Academy of Music to his musical partnership and success with Bernie Taupin. The film is titled after John’s 1972 song called “Rocketman”.  I wasn’t quite sure the film was going to be any good because the trailer appeared to show the movie a little on the silly side.  To my surprise, not only is it a serious movie, I also found it to be really good.

As a very young child, Reginald “Reggie” Dwight (Matthew Illesley) is raised by his cold hearted mother, Sheila (Bryce Dallas Howard) and more caring grandmother Ivy (Gemma Jones), while his father Stanley (Steven Mackintoch), is away serving in the Royal Air Force. Young Reggie (Kit Connor) shows interest in playing the piano, and soon begins studying at the Royal Academy of Music. Reggie’s father Stanley, who has never shown any love towards his son, eventually abandons his family after Sheila has an affair with another man. An older Reggie (Taron Egerton) takes up an interest in rock music artists like Elvis Presley and begins performing in local pubs, before joining a band called Bluesology.
As an adult, Reggie changes his name to Elton John and tries to find success with Dick James’ (Stephen Graham) publishing company under the management of Ray Williams (Charlie Rowe). Williams introduces Elton to songwriter Bernie Taupin (James Bell) and the two quickly form a friendship, with Bernie accepting both Elton and the fact that he is homosexual. The duo impress Dick with the song “Your Song” so he sets up a performance for them at the Troubadour in Los Angeles. The audience loves Elton’s performance. At a party afterwards, Elton feels abandoned when Bernie leaves him to be with a woman. Elton is approached by a very attractive man named John Reid (Richard Madden), who is a music manager attracted to Elton. The two sleep together, being careful not to reunite until later, as Elton had not come out as gay yet.

Reid’s influence over Elton causes him to spiral into a life of debauchery as his career takes off and he becomes a successful musician, embracing a flamboyant stage persona.  After Elton appoints Reid as his new manager, Reid starts to manipulate him and insists that he come out to his mother and father as gay so they can help hide Reid and Elton’s sexual relationship from the press. Elton’s mother bluntly informs Elton that she was already aware of his sexuality and doesn’t care, telling him that he’s facing a life of being alone forever. Elton finds his father but doesn’t tell him that he’s gay, upset by his father’s happiness with his new family and ignorance of his old one. Struggling with his parental issues, as well as Reid’s increasing abuse, Elton becomes addicted to alcohol, cocaine, cannabis, and sex. Making matters worse, Elton witnesses Reid cheating on him with another man, and at a house party later that day, consumes a dangerous amount of drugs and alcohol. Elton attempts suicide by jumping into his pool while drugged to the nth degree. He is rushed to the hospital and not long after is forced back on stage to continue his performances.

Rocketman is an extremely entertaining movie.  It is well acted and Elton John’s music “rocks”. Elton John’s life was pretty complex and Rocketman revealed many aspects of his life.  All three actors who portrayed Elton were brilliant.  Between the very, very young Reggie and the oldest Elton, I can’t say who was the better actor.  Before Elton John started wearing such flamboyant outfits, I don’t think a large amount of the population knew he was gay.  I’m not sure his lousy upbringing and his depression was evident either.  Despite the omission of the Queen of England Knighting Elton, the movie was pretty accurate and definitely exciting as well as entertaining.  Rocketman sort of took on the flavor of “Bohemian Rhapsody”.   However, Rocketman was released at a most inopportune time, amidst “Godzilla” and “Ma”, which were two anticipated films and one week after Walt Disney’s Aladdin, as well as two weeks after the very hot John Wick: Chapter 3. This meant box office sales would be shared between all four of these movies. None the less, I highly recommend “Rocketman” — Check It Out!

JURASSIC WORLD: FALLEN KINGDOM (2018) – My rating: 8/10

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is a science fiction film and the sequel to Jurassic World (2015). Directed by J. A. Bayona, it is the fifth installment of the Jurassic Park film series, as well as the second installment of a planned Jurassic World trilogy.  While I wasn’t thrilled about another Jurassic anything movie, I forced myself to see this one so I would have something to write about.  I felt along with other critics that Jurassic World has run it’s course.  Despite negative critiques, it turned out to be pretty good — as this summer’s movies have not been that impressive.

Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom is set on the fictional Central American island of Isla Nublar, off the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, 6 months after the theme park incident.  A small team of mercenaries arrives on the abandoned island to collect DNA from the remains of the Indominus rex, which lie at the bottom of the park’s lagoon. After successfully collecting a bone fragment, the team barely escape the park’s Mosasaurus and Tyrannosaurus rex. During the emergency evacuation, the lagoon gate is inadvertently left open, allowing the Mosasaurus to escape into the ocean.

Three years after the Jurassic World incident, a U.S. Senate hearing in Washington, D.C. debates whether Isla Nublar’s dinosaurs should be saved from an impending volcanic eruption. Mathematician Dr. Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) testifies that the dinosaurs should be allowed to perish to correct John Hammond’s mistake of cloning them long ago. Meanwhile, Jurassic World’s former operations manager, Claire Dearing (Bryce Dallas Howard), has created the Dinosaur Protection Group to save the animals. When the Senate rules against their rescue, Claire is contacted by Benjamin Lockwood (James Cromwell), Hammond’s former partner.

Soon after, Claire meets Lockwood and his aide, Eli Mills (Rafe Spall), at his Northern California estate. They reveal a plan to relocate the dinosaurs to a new island sanctuary. Claire recruits Owen Grady (Chris Pratt), Jurassic World’s former Velociraptor trainer, for the mission after Mills expresses concerns about locating Blue, the last living Velociraptor.

—  SLIGHT SPOILERS below  —

The rescue group arrives on Isla Nublar and meets Ken Wheatley (Ted Levine), the mercenary commander. Claire and former park technician, Franklin Webb (Justice Smith), reactivate the park’s dinosaur trackers, while Owen, paleo-veterinarian Zia Rodriguez (Daniella Pineda), Wheatley and other mercenaries search for Blue. Upon finding her, the encounter escalates and leads to a mercenary shooting Blue and Wheatley tranquilizing Owen. Zia works to keep Blue alive while Owen is left behind. After surviving a Baryonyx attack, Claire and Franklin reunite with Owen as the volcano threatens to erupt. They flee from the pyroclastic flow, then sneak aboard the mercenaries’ ship, where they find Zia with Blue. The ship, filled with captured dinosaurs, departs for the U.S. mainland.

At Lockwood’s estate, Lockwood’s orphaned, pre-teen granddaughter, Maisie (Isabella Sermon) overhears Mills and auctioneer Gunnar Eversol (Toby Jones) secretly planning something unprecedented, concerning the captured dinosaurs. They also discuss unveiling the Indoraptor, a new genetically-engineered dinosaur created by geneticist Dr. Henry Wu (B. D. Wong).

Overall, Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom was entertaining and the special effects were fantastic.  I won’t say anything about how the movie ended — I’ll leave that for the next sequel, if there is one.  As movies go, you wouldn’t be wasting you time or money by seeing this one.  Check it out!