Movie Review: ‘Elvis’ shows that King’s work is truly timeless

Baz Luhrmann’s portrait of Elvis Presley is refreshing, shows new take on Presley’s life



Austin Butler’s portrayal of the King is absolutely electric in the new biopic.

DAYLON HICKS, Evergreen reporter

The tale of Elvis Presley is full of historic moments in music, and director Baz Luhrmann told the idol’s story in his own image in his new biopic starring Austin Butler. However, his legacy presents a lot of controversies involving his music.

For the first 12 years of Presley’s life, he lived in Tupelo, Miss., where where his only musical influence was that of the Black community: blues and gospel music. When this influence snuck into Presley’s own music, however, he was often accused of cultural appropriation.

The biopic directed by Luhrmann went a different route than any before. He told the story from the point of view of the singer’s crooked manager, Colonel Tom Parker, played by Tom Hanks.

This angle was new, but necessary. Sure, there were some interesting choices from Luhrmann, such as the toy lightning bolt on Presley’s chest as a kid to represent Captain Marvel, his favorite hero, but it helped capture the image of the “King” in vivid detail.

Most biopics have the known trait of feeling slow-paced, but the stunning visuals shot by Mandy Walker and remixed music from the famous singer provided the movie with liveliness and exhilarating energy, a key component of Presley’s performance when he was alive.

Early in the movie, Presley has his first big performance, in a dance hall in Texarkana, Ark. where he performed “Hayride,” a song from his earlier days. In that performance, a lady screeched out of excitement because of his vibrant hips and high vocals.

From there, Presley only continues to rise, and multiple women join in on the yelling. The riff of the rock guitar takes over the performance to showcase the feeling that Presley gave the crowd, a sensation that can be sinful.

Butler’s performance as Presley is unprecedented — he truly embodies the star’s enormous energy and presence. With the way he swayed his hips and the vulnerability showing women that he was available after each song, Butler captured the image of “Elvis the performer” perfectly.

The movie’s score featured the likes of Tame Impala, Swae Lee and Doja Cat, remixed with Elvis’ music to allude to the main message of the film — that Presley’s combination of blues, gospel, pop and country continues to present itself in today’s music.

However, despite much of the film diving into Presley’s career, it failed to feature much detail about his death.

Despite his actual cause of death being known as heart failure, the incident can be traced back to the unhealthy diet in his later years and a dangerous amount of drugs.

Luhrmann’s “Elvis” shows us that despite living a life wrought with scandal, controversy and drugs, Presley’s work is truly timeless, and the King’s influence continues to be reflected in today’s music and pop culture.