The much-anticipated Elvis Presley biopic premiered at Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday night where it was met by mixed early reviews from critics.

There has been a lot of excitement around Baz Luhrmann’s film as the director hoped to recreate the buzz he generated when he brought the can-can to Cannes with Moulin Rouge! 20 years ago.

But the biopic about ‘The King’ did not quite live up to expectations as it received mixed reviews, with critics hailing Austin Butler’s performance as Elvis while remaining unconvinced by Tom Hanks as his manager Colonel Tom Parker.

Opinions: The much-anticipated Elvis Presley biopic premiered at Cannes Film Festival on Wednesday night and was hailed by critics as a ‘spectacle’ in the first reviews

The Daily Mail’s film critic Brian Viner gave the biopic four stars, praising Austin, 30, for steering away from ‘caricature’ in his performance, instead perfecting Elvis’ voice and moves.

‘There are a thousand nightclub Elvises out there who can reproduce the famous lip curl. Sensibly, Butler doesn’t attempt it, swerving away from caricature,’ he enthused.

He gave credit to Luhrmann’s casting of Tom Hanks as Elvis’s infamous manager, whom Elvis signed a contract with in January 1955 and he went on to manage him for over two decades.

The biopic is framed with Tom as the narrator, with the film opening on his words, ‘I made Elvis Presley’, before adding ‘there are some who make me out to be the villain of this story’.

Mixed reviews: The biopic did not live up to expectations, with critics hailing Austin Butler's role as Elvis while remaining unconvinced by Tom Hanks as his manager Colonel Tom Parker

Mixed reviews: The biopic did not live up to expectations, with critics hailing Austin Butler’s role as Elvis while remaining unconvinced by Tom Hanks as his manager Colonel Tom Parker

Speaking of the unique framing of the movie, Brian praised: ‘It was clever of Luhrmann to tell the story of Elvis through the self-serving eyes of Colonel Tom and cleverer still to cast Hanks.’

Brian lauded the much-anticipated biopic as a ‘spectacle’ and compared its ‘tricksy editing’ to the 2019 Elton John biopic Rocketman, which saw Taron Egerton lead as the Cold Heart singer.

‘Will it leave you all shook up? Not quite. But it’s very smartly done,’ he concluded.

But the Independent’s Clarisse Loughrey seemed less convinced by Tom’s casting as she said he was like an ‘accessory’ beside Austin’s all-consuming performance as the King of Rock N’ Roll.

The film critic lauded Austin for not turning his impersonation of Elvis into a ‘parody’ and instead managing to perfect the ‘essence’ of the American singer’s personality.

Lauded: The Daily Mail's film critic Brian Viner gave the biopic four stars, praising Austin (pictured with Hanks at premiere), 30, for steering away from 'caricature' in his performance

Lauded: The Daily Mail’s film critic Brian Viner gave the biopic four stars, praising Austin (pictured with Hanks at premiere), 30, for steering away from ‘caricature’ in his performance

She added: ‘Sure, Butler has the looks, the voice, the stance and the wiggle nailed down, but what’s truly impressive is that indescribable, undistillable essence of Elvis-ness – magnetic and gentle and fierce, all at the same time.’

Clarisse said in comparison, Tom was ‘buried’ beneath prosthetics and a ‘pantomime Dutch accent’, but praised Luhrmann for creating a ‘fairytale’ look at Elvis’ life and career.

She said the film turned Elvis into a ‘naïf’ trapped under his manager’s spell as she argued that the biopic’s weakest moments were surrounding the fierce debate still surrounding Elvis today.

‘While you won’t find all that much truth in Baz Luhrmann’s cradle-to-grave dramatisation of his life, the Australian filmmaker has delivered something far more compelling: an American fairytale,’ she said, giving the biopic four stars.

The King The Independent's Clarisse Loughrey seemed less convinced by Tom's performance as she said he was like an 'accessory' beside Austin's all-consuming performance as Elvis

The King The Independent’s Clarisse Loughrey seemed less convinced by Tom’s performance as she said he was like an ‘accessory’ beside Austin’s all-consuming performance as Elvis

Legend: Elvis is pictured in 1968 performing on stage

The King: Austin (pictured) looked strikingly different as he transformed into the rock singer Elvis Presley

The King: Austin (right) looked strikingly different as he transformed into the rock singer Elvis Presley (left) for the biopic

The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw appeared less convinced by Luhrmann’s biopic, giving it a mere two stars and describing it as a ‘pointless explosion of super-spangly sparkles’.

The critic argued it was more of a long trailer than a biopic and described Austin’s performance as ‘competent’ while criticising Tom’s performance as the infamous manager.

He wrote: ‘It’s not a movie so much as 159-minute trailer for a film called Elvis – a relentless, frantically flashy montage, epic and yet negligible at the same time, with no variation of pace.’

Peter also expressed disappointment that the film didn’t explore the ‘dysfunctional’ relationship between Elvis and his manager, instead describing Tom’s character as a ‘repeating cameo’.

Oh dear! The Guardian's Peter Bradshaw appeared less convinced by Luhrmann's biopic, giving it a mere two stars and describing it as a 'pointless explosion of super-spangly sparkles'

Oh dear! The Guardian’s Peter Bradshaw appeared less convinced by Luhrmann’s biopic, giving it a mere two stars and describing it as a ‘pointless explosion of super-spangly sparkles’ 

‘Colonel Tom is a kind of repeating cameo in Elvis’s life and Luhrmann is even less interested in Parker’s inner self than in Elvis’s – the Colonel’s own wretched post-Elvis life and death are shrugged off in the closing credit titles,’ he added. 

And IndieWire’s David Ehrlich appeared equally unimpressed by the biopic, which he deemed to be ‘monotonous’ and not focused enough on Elvis himself, saying the Viva Las Vegas hitmaker ‘deserved better’.

He penned: ‘If only this 159-minute eyesore — a sadistically monotonous super-montage in which a weird Flemish guy manipulates some naïve young greaser over and over and over again until they both get sad and die — were gracious enough to be as short in any other respect.’

Kevin Maher, writing for The Times, heaped praise on the ‘pleasure-filled, rock’n’roll fever dream’ film which he generously lauded as possibly Luhrmann’s best project since Romeo and Juliet.

Giving the film four stars, he wrote: ‘The power in the musical numbers is drawn from Butler’s turn but also from Luhrmann, who edits with the kind of frenetic rhythms that are almost impossible to resist (feet will tap). 

‘They are the spine-tingling highlights that make the entire project a must-see movie.’

And the Evening Standard‘s Charlotte O’Sullivan couldn’t help but agree and lauded the biopic as Luhrmann’s ‘most substantial work’ since 1996’s Romeo and Juliet as she awarded it a four-star review.

‘Luhrmann’s colourful house style can be frantic and shallow, but his desire to get our knickers in a twist, here, feels honest-to-god urgent,’ she gushed.

The Telegraph’s Robbie Collin also gave a generous four stars to the biopic and praised both Austin and Tom’s entertaining performances.

Impressed: Kevin Maher, writing for The Times, heaped praise on the 'pleasure-filled' film which he generously lauded as possibly Luhrmann's best project since Romeo and Juliet

Impressed: Kevin Maher, writing for The Times, heaped praise on the ‘pleasure-filled’ film which he generously lauded as possibly Luhrmann’s best project since Romeo and Juliet

‘In that signature Luhrmann way, it veers in and out of fashion on a scene-by-scene basis: it’s the most impeccably styled and blaringly gaudy thing you’ll see all year, and all the more fun for it,’ he wrote.

Meanwhile, Variety critic Owen Gleiberman gushed over Luhrmann’s biopic, describing it as ‘compulsively watchable’ and lauded the director from veering away from a conventional biography.

But he added that the film was not always convincing in its story at times, and described Austin’s physical transformation as closer to John Travolta than Elvis.

‘Luhrmann has made a woefully imperfect but at times arresting drama that builds to something moving and true. By the end, the film’s melody has been unchained,’ he concluded.

The film chronicles the life and career of Elvis from his early days as a child growing up in Mississippi to his ascent as a rock and roll icon and movie star, along with his complex relationship with his manager.

Story: The biopic is framed with Tom as the narrator, with the film opening on his words 'I made Elvis Presley', before adding 'there are some who make me out to be the villain of this story'

Story: The biopic is framed with Tom as the narrator, with the film opening on his words ‘I made Elvis Presley’, before adding ‘there are some who make me out to be the villain of this story’

Luhrmann served as the film’s director and co-screenwriter, along with Sam Bromell, Craig Pearce and Jeremy Donner, from a story he conceived with Donner. 

Colonel Tom Parker – who died age 87 in 1997 – reportedly suffered from a gambling problem and mostly kept Presley from performing overseas due to his own illegal status in the States.

Elvis – who sold over 1B records – received the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2018 and he’s been inducted into multiple music halls of fame.

Elvis died, age 42, in 1977 from cardiac arrhythmia due to a toxic reaction to codeine.

Elvis opens in cinemas on Friday June 24.

ELVIS: WHAT THE CRITICS ARE SAYING 

Daily Mail

Rating:

The Daily Mail’s film critic Brian Viner praised Austin, 30, for steering away from ‘caricature’ in his performance, instead perfecting Elvis’ voice and moves throughout the story.

Speaking of the unique framing of the movie, Brian praised: ‘It was clever of Luhrmann to tell the story of Elvis through the self-serving eyes of Colonel Tom and cleverer still to cast Hanks.’

The Independent

Rating:

The Independent’s Clarisse Loughrey seemed less convinced by Tom’s performance as she said he was like an ‘accessory’ beside Austin’s all-consuming performance as the King of rock n’ roll.

She added: ‘Sure, Butler has the looks, the voice, the stance and the wiggle nailed down, but what’s truly impressive is that indescribable, undistillable essence of Elvis-ness – magnetic and gentle and fierce, all at the same time.’ 

‘While you won’t find all that much truth in Baz Luhrmann’s cradle-to-grave dramatisation of his life, the Australian filmmaker has delivered something far more compelling: an American fairytale,’ she praised. 

The Guardian

Rating:

Peter Bradshaw appeared less convinced by Luhrmann’s biopic, describing it as a ‘pointless explosion of super-spangly sparkles’.

He wrote: ‘It’s not a movie so much as 159-minute trailer for a film called Elvis – a relentless, frantically flashy montage, epic and yet negligible at the same time, with no variation of pace.’

The Telegraph

Rating:

Robbie Collin gave a generous four stars to the biopic and praised both Austin and Tom’s entertaining performances.

‘In that signature Luhrmann way, it veers in and out of fashion on a scene-by-scene basis: it’s the most impeccably styled and blaringly gaudy thing you’ll see all year, and all the more fun for it,’ he wrote. 

The Times

Rating:

Kevin Maher heaped praise on the ‘pleasure-filled, rock’n’roll fever dream’ film which he generously lauded as possibly Luhrmann’s best project since Romeo + Juliet.

Giving the film four stars, he wrote: ‘The power in the musical numbers is drawn from Butler’s turn but also from Luhrmann, who edits with the kind of frenetic rhythms that are almost impossible to resist (feet will tap). 

The Evening Standard

Rating:

Charlotte O’Sullivan couldn’t help but agree as the lauded the biopic as Luhrmann’s ‘most substantial work’ since 1996’s Romeo and Juliet as she awarded it a four-star review.

‘Luhrmann’s colourful house style can be frantic and shallow, but his desire to get our knickers in a twist, here, feels honest-to-god urgent,’ she gushed.

King-size talent with the moves to bring Elvis to life: Young star – and a dastardly Tom Hanks – make this biopic a spectacle, writes BRIAN VINER 

Elvis (12A)

Rating:

Blue suede shoes trod the red nylon carpet last night as an enthusiastic audience at the Cannes Film Festival arrived to see the premiere of Baz Luhrmann’s keenly awaited biopic Elvis.

The film stars former Disney Channel favourite Austin Butler in the exalted title role, as the King of Rock ‘n’ Roll, with Tom Hanks as his overbearing manager Colonel Tom Parker.

It is rare to find Hanks playing a character practically without virtue, so it perhaps helps that he is prosthetised almost beyond recognition beneath a fat suit, sporting acres of wobbly jowls and an elongated nose, like a corpulent version of the sinister Child Catcher from Chitty Chitty Bang Bang.

A new biopic about Elvis Presley's life, called Elvis, premiered at Cannes film festival and will be released towards the end of next month

A new biopic about Elvis Presley’s life, called Elvis, premiered at Cannes film festival and will be released towards the end of next month

Tom Hanks looks barely recognisable in the film wearing a fat suit while sat across from Austin playing Elvis

Tom Hanks looks barely recognisable in the film wearing a fat suit while sat across from Austin playing Elvis

At any rate, Hanks really does appear to have left the building.

Those unaware that Colonel Tom was actually born Andreas Cornelis van Kuijk in the southern Netherlands will be bewildered by his accent (which in truth sounds more mittel-European than Dutch), because Parker’s background, and his illegal arrival in the United States at the age of 20, is referred to only obliquely.

But then he also acts as the film’s narrator, and why would he emphasise his own foreignness?

Instead, he tells us snippily at the start that ‘there are some who make me out to be the villain of this here story’.

Brian Viner says that Austin Butler gives a 'genuine virtuoso performance'  as Elvis

Brian Viner says that Austin Butler gives a ‘genuine virtuoso performance’  as Elvis

It’s entirely untrue, he adds, that his unrelenting demands helped to finish off his famous protege, who died aged 42 in 1977. ‘I didn’t kill him,’ he says. ‘I made Elvis Presley.’

Over two hours and 39 minutes (Luhrmann is not known for his film-making brevity) we get to draw our own conclusions.

And in fairness Parker comes across as a brilliant entrepreneur with a gimlet eye for the main chance.

As the film tells it, he all but invents the concept of merchandising, and even has ‘I Hate Elvis’ badges made alongside the ‘I Love Elvis’ badges – on the basis that not everyone will be a fan, so they might as well make money out of the detractors, too.

Austin Butler attended the screening of 'Elvis' at the 75th annual Cannes film festival alongside Priscilla Presley

Austin Butler attended the screening of ‘Elvis’ at the 75th annual Cannes film festival alongside Priscilla Presley

But the film’s message is really that nobody except Elvis made Elvis, much as he wallows in the influences of black artists such as Big Mama Thornton (Shonka Dukureh), Little Richard (Alton Mason) and BB King (Kelvin Harrison Jnr).

Usefully, even if he looks rather more like the young John Travolta than the young Elvis Presley, Butler gives a genuine virtuoso performance that is far more than an impersonation.

Last week in Cannes it even had the stamp of approval from Riley Keough, who came to unveil her debut directorial feature War Pony, but also happens to be Elvis’s granddaughter.

As she and the rest of us are well aware, there are a thousand nightclub Elvises out there who can reproduce the famous lip curl.

Sensibly, Butler doesn’t attempt it, swerving away from caricature.

Kaia Gerber, Austin's girlfriend, attended the film premiere in a stunning red dress to support her partner

Kaia Gerber, Austin’s girlfriend, attended the film premiere in a stunning red dress to support her partner

But he has the voice and the moves, and nails the picture’s best scene, when in 1954 Elvis gives his first live performance and the girls in the audience begin to swoon.

‘It vos,’ declares the former fairground huckster Colonel Tom, ‘the greatest carnival attraction I’d ever seen’.

Elvis’s effect on them was like that of a charismatic young evangelical preacher.

And Luhrmann gives us a glimpse into another of his influences, flashing back to 1947 to show us a wide-eyed kid, in the Mississippi boondocks, watching a Christian revivalist meeting.

Yet the main focus of the film is the 23-year period between the great star’s rise to fame and his sad demise, from those early recordings for Sam Phillips (Josh McConville) at Sun Studio in Memphis and moving his beloved mother Gladys (Helen Thomson) into the nearby Graceland mansion (scenes with conspicuous echoes of The Beverly Hillbillies), to making movies, joining the army, meeting Priscilla (Olivia DeJonge) and the final, overweight, unhappy Vegas years.

Sharon Stone attended the screening looking suitably rock and roll with her tinted sunglasses

Sharon Stone attended the screening looking suitably rock and roll with her tinted sunglasses

With faint malevolence (and a degenerate gambling habit) Parker orchestrates it all, indeed the segregationist senator Jim Eastland (Nicholas Bell), who wants Presley and his ‘lewd gyrations’ banned, is by no means the film’s primary villain.

It was clever of Luhrmann to tell the story of Elvis through the self-serving eyes of Colonel Tom and cleverer still to cast Hanks.

Moreover, a little like the 2019 Elton John biopic Rocketman, if not quite as much as Luhrmann’s own Moulin Rouge! (2001), this film is playfully presented, with tricksy editing, split screens, slow-mo, animation, the works – making it as much a spectacle as a story.

Will it leave you all shook up? Not quite. But it’s very smartly done.

Elvis opens in cinemas on Friday June 24.

Kylie Minogue wore a black corset detailed gown and silver choker with green diamonds on the red carpet

Kylie Minogue wore a black corset detailed gown and silver choker with green diamonds on the red carpet



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