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Rocketman. It takes off.

Rocketman is quite simply the evolution of Reginald Kenneth Dwight from a shy lonely kid into the internationally known music phenomenon, Elton John. It’s a difficult process starting with his childhood where Reginald is reared by cold and distant parents. However, even at that early stage, he shows musical brilliance, getting a scholarship to the prestigious Royal Academy of Music in London. The story examines his depression, substance abuse, and acceptance of his sexual orientation. His story unfolds as he shares the key moments of his life with a therapist and members of a group counseling session.

Rocketman is an exceptional film worthy of Oscar consideration. And it’s a See It! It proves the saying, adulthood is that time in life when we get over our childhood. Because despite his rare talent and worldwide fame, Reginald/Elton struggles through his adolescence and through his adulthood trying to gain acceptance, love, and respect from his parents.

Getting Rocketman to the big screen was a lengthy process. Originally, set to go into production in 2001 with Justin Timberlake as John, Elton battled with studios’ wanting to tone down the sex and drugs, to garner a PG-13 rating. But John felt strongly that his story could not be accurately and fully told without the decadence.

In April 2018, the project moves forward with Taron Egerton as Elton. There has never been a better casting choice! Egerton does all of the singing, while not as strong as John in his heyday. But along with his acting and dancing, Taron is nearly perfect. Overall, the entire cast is superb. Bryce Dallas Howard, Ron Howard’s daughter and an accomplished actress in her own right, plays Elton’s cold and verbally abusive mother. Jamie Bell stars as the silent force behind John’s success; his songwriter, Bernie Taupin and one of the few people who cared about Elton as a friend and not a source of money.

Rocketman succeeds because it’s not preachy or heavy-handed. Viewers will sympathize with Elton, but that’s not the film's intent. It’s the natural response to seeing his story. It also includes his vast library of songs and how Taupin’s lyrics were often relevant to what was going on in their lives at the time. For example, Yellowbrick Road is about when Taupin needed a break from the demanding travel schedule John maintains. Taupin returns to his farm as the lyrics state.

There are other interesting facts. Like despite being gay, Elton had a four-year marriage to a woman.

It’s difficult to give Rocketman a cast diversity rating. With truth based stories, the casts have to reflect the races of the people involved. Then as today, there are many African Americans in the music industry. That’s shown in the film. John got his start in the 60s, a time of the Beatles and Motown. He interacts with black groups and according to the film, it was black entertainers who introduced him to the gay (homosexual as it was more often referred to then) lifestyle.

Rocketman is just over two hours and is rated R for obvious reasons. It is truly an exceptional production. And you really should “See It!

Kingsman: The Golden Circle is Roundly Entertaining. [MOVIE REVIEW]

In 2014, Kingsman: The Secret Service introduced filmgoers to the international intelligence agency operating at the highest levels of diplomatic, scholarly, and gentlemanly behavior with the ultimate goal of keeping the world safe.

In the 2017 version, Kingsman: The Golden Circle, the heroes from the first film (Taron Egerton as Eggsy; Colin Firth is Harry Hart; Michael Strong plays Merlin) face a new challenge with a drug kingpin (Julianne Moore) set on not only manufacturing and selling her products, she wants them as socially acceptable as alcohol. She gets the Kingsman’s attention by destroying their headquarters and targeting their leadership. To bring the villain down, the Kingsman team up with a previously unknown to them American operation called the Statesman, an old, well respected whisky making organization with Jeff Bridges, Channing Tatum, and Halle Berry playing operatives. They have their own agenda but agree with the Kingsman that the dealer must be dealt with quickly and severely.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle thoroughly entertains and it’s a See It!

It follows some of the tried and true techniques for action films, like beginning with an intense, theatrical battle. Despite a vicious fight with multiple, likely bone crushing blows landing to his body and face, Eggsy goes unmarked and his perfectly fitting suit, untarnished.

Also, there’s plenty of split-second lifesaving events and, technology, like vicious mechanical dogs.

The film also raises such questions as: would ground up human beings look like ground beef? Would America have a dishonest man as president?

As to the cast, the performances are fittingly appropriate. None of the roles require any great acting range.

When the Kingsman travels to Kentucky to meet the Statesman, the background music is Take Me Home Country Roads which is actually about West Virginia. But I guess to the British - Kentucky, West Virginia – what’s the difference?

Kingsman: The Golden Circle, cast diversity wise, gets a “B+”. This is a movie set in the cloak and dagger world of the United Kingdom and U.S. which is primarily a white male environment. However, Halle Berry has a major supporting role as the character, Ginger, in the Statesman’s organization. And there are other people of color in smaller roles.

Kingsman: The Golden Circle is rated R for sequences of strong violence, drug content, language throughout and some sexual material. And my common complaint about films: too long. At 2 hours and 21 minutes, its 21 minutes too long.

However, Kingsman: The Golden Circle gets our highest rating, See It!, because it’s powerfully entertaining!

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