Film Title: Rocketman
Release Date: 2019
Runtime: 121 minutes
Region Coding: Region Free
Audio Format: Dolby Atmos
High Dynamic Range: HDR10, Dolby Vision
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
Version Reviewed: 4K UHD Blu-ray
Release Date: 8/27/19
Director: Dexter Fletcher
Cast: Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell, Richard Madden, Bryce Dallas Howard, Gemma Jones, Steven Mackintosh, Kit Connor, Matthew Illesley, Charlie Rowe, Stephen Graham
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Full 4K Tech Specs found at the bottom
“Rocketman” was a 2019 musical film adaptation of the life story of music legend sir Elton John. The film was directed by Dexter Fletcher. Fletcher is best known for his work directing films such as “Sunshine on Leith” (2013) and “Eddie the Eagle” (2015). He’s also no stranger to doing musicals or biopics as he worked as a producer on “Bohemian Rhapsody” (2018). You also have Matthew Vaughn (of “Kingsman” fame) serving as a producer on the film, along with sir Elton John himself as an executive producer.
Now, let’s be upfront here, the music in the film is actually vocally performed by the lead actor portraying Elton John (Taron Egerton). There is no music in this film performed by Elton, just performances of the songs that he made famous. This was actually the way that Elton wanted it, as you’ll learn in the bonus materials. With that out of the way, I’ll go on to discussing how this combination of a biography and musical goes about telling the life story of one very memorable and talented musician.
As we are first introduced to Elton he comes bursting through doors wearing an extremely extravagant outfit, just as he has become known for over the years. However, we don’t realize that he’s walking down a hallway into rehab. He looks back on his life in group therapy and we hear about what he was like as a small child and spoilers aside, we are introduced to a young “Reggie” (Matthew Illesley), which was the original name that Elton was given. You’ll soon meet his mother “Sheila” (Bryce Dallas Howard) and grandmother “Ivy” (Gemma Jones). The young boy sits down at the piano one day and starts to play along to the music on the radio, leaving both his mother and grandmother amazed.
Things at home with Elton’s father “Stanley” (Steven Mackintosh) are not really the best, and I’ll leave it at that. Let’s just say that his mother and grandmother encourage him with his musical talent and decide to get him piano lessons and even some musical training. It’s only a matter of time before he’s out playing music and tries to get a record deal. Elton (as he’s changed his name to by now) meets someone in the music industry and plays some material for them, yet lacks any lyrics. It’s here where he will have his life changed when he’s given an envelope full of songs written by a man named “Bernie Taupin” (Jamie Bell). The two men eventually meet and Elton decides to take Bernie’s songs and put music and lyrical performances to them. The rest is history, or is it?
That’s the whole rest of this film and it really highlights on the really up points to the very low points in the musician’s life. It also still remains to focus on this amazing friendship throughout between both Elton and Bernie. The supporting cast here is very impressive and the musical performances (vocally) by Taron Egerton are excellent. This makes for one very enjoyable and emotionally moving biographical musical.
Movie Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)
This comes to 4K UHD Blu-ray presented in the 2.39:1 aspect ratio, just as it was shown during its theatrical run. In its 4K debut, “Rocketman” gets HDR10 and Dolby Vision forms of High Dynamic Range included on the release.
Rocketman on 4K UHD Blu-ray also gets a BD-100 disc using nearly 89 gigabytes total, just for the film itself. According to IMDb, the movie was shot digitally in 3.4K resolution using the Arri Alexa Mini cameras and then is said to have received a 2K digital intermediate master. I’m not so sure that IMDb is correct on that latter bit of info as it could have perhaps been 4K mastered.
This looks very impressive visually from the very opening of the film, many thanks to Elton John’s extravagantly flashy outfit. The color palette can be very bright and also a tad bit subdued early on during a childhood scene. Flesh tones are accurate, the black level is solid, and this really seems to benefit from High Dynamic Range. I will make note that I viewed this in the HDR10 form.
The 3.4K digital source material, even if only mastered at 2K, shows off a very impressive amount of detail here. Close-ups at times can reveal the most impressive detail. However, this is the lavish visual spectacle, at times, that you would expect of a musical film about Elton John. To say the man is flamboyant is an understatement, and I mean that to sir Elton as a compliment. This manages to really show off the over-the-top outfits that he started to wear, later in his career especially.
The cinematography here (done by George Richmond) looks marvelous and serves as every bit as much a visual spectacle in its own right. This is a 4K presentation, with the addition of HDR, that in comparison to the Blu-ray is worthy of earning an impressive video quality rating.
Video Quality Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)
Audio here is presented in Dolby Atmos, with a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 core for those without the proper equipment to decode Atmos.
There’s a good amount of bass found here, and even at least on one occasion an impressive low-end bass drop. The subwoofer will help things really keep the beat going all throughout the film, during some more intense scenes especially 80 minutes in. The height speakers here make some great use of the original musical score and occasionally sound effects such as crowd cheers. The surround rear channel speakers are very well used to really set the vibe with both the musical score and again, occasional sound effects, and of course, again, crowd cheers during the bigger performances. Vocals during the musical number are beautifully driven from the center channel along with the dialogue.
About 20 minutes you’ll get your first big sample of a very energetic musical number that makes some excellent use of being in Atmos. The musical numbers are really powerful, some more than others. The sound of a falling piano comes to mind when I think of the impressive moments. As well as around 48 minutes in during a live performance (of “Crocodile Rock”). Things around 84 minutes, in as the film’s title track plays for its second time and at its peak, really blasted off so-to-speak in terms of being intense. This is a musical that makes for an impressive Dolby Atmos mix in its 4K UHD Blu-ray debut and does the amazing music (made famous) by Sir Elton John absolute justice. A fun time is to be had for most all here in terms of this sound mix, as it’s very upbeat for the most part.
Audio Quality Rating: 5 (out of 5)
Bonus materials physically included on this release include:
- A Digital Copy of the film via is included, which is compatible with services like Apple’s iTunes and VUDU. Here you get a paper insert inside the packaging that contains a code you put in at the URL listed. Digital exclusive bonus materials come with this, as you’ll hear me discuss further below.
- A Blu-ray Disc of the film is included. It features a Dolby Atmos sound mix as well.
- A Special Booklet “A Message From Elton John” (12 pages) features some very informative material from the man himself and is a great companion piece to the film. It’s also a promo of sorts for his upcoming book (“Elton John: Me”) coming in October.
The Digital Copy of the film comes with the following Exclusive Digital Extras :
- [iTunes Exclusive] “The Rocket Hour with Elton John & Taron Egerton” (7:08 – HD) features an interview between sir Elton John and Taron Egerton who portrays him in the film. This was recorded for Elton John’s “The Rocket Hour” radio show, as heard on Apple Music Beats1 (online) radio channel. This is one very enjoyable interview and it made for one great episode of Elton John’s show that week. It’s also very nice to hear Elton compliment the performance also given by Rami Malek in another musical biography (“Bohemian Rhapsody”). Egerton seems to have, himself, really put a whole lot of heart into this project.
- [iTunes Exclusive] “Rocketman Roundtable” (24:34 – HD) features an in-depth discussion between Elton John (executive producer), Taron Egerton (actor), Giles Martin (music producer), and is moderated by Zane Lowe (radio host). This was actually originally recorded for Apple Music Beats1 (online) radio channel. There is some great footage in the recording studio and also are some interviews here thrown in with folks such as David Furnish (producer), even Taron Egerton on-set discussing the scene that uses a particular song (“Tiny Dancer”), and Bernie Taupin (songwriter). This roundtable discussion is a must-watch for anyone who can get access to it, considering it is an iTunes digital exclusive.
- [iTunes Exclusive] “Be True To Yourself: Elton John’s Lasting Impact” (5:13 – HD) starts with on-set footage, then features clips from the film, and interviews with Taron Egerton (“Elton John”), Jamie Bell (“Bernie Taupin”), Bryce Dallas Howard (“Sheila”), Richard Madden (“John Reid”), Bernie Taupin (songwriter), Matthew Vaughn (producer), Dexter Fletcher (director), and Elton John (executive producer).
- [iTunes Exclusive] “The Bitch Is Back Rehearsal Shoot” (2:08 – HD) consists of on-set footage from when they were doing a rehearsal shoot for the song and scene featured in the film. It is presented in Black & White and is very rough but still enjoyable to see how it has progressed since then.
- “The Right Chemistry: The Ensemble Cast” (12:16 – HD) consists of on-set footage and interviews with Taron Egerton (“Elton John”), Elton John (executive producer), Dexter Fletcher (director), Matthew Vaughn (producer), David Furnish (producer), Jamie Bell (“Bernie Taupin”), Bernie Taupin (songwriter), Richard Madden (“John Reid”), Bryce Dallas Howard (“Sheila”), Tom Bennett (“Fred”), Stephen Graham (“Dick James”), Steven Mackintosh (“Stanley”), Gemma Jones (“Ivy”), and Kit Conner (older “Reggie”) This featurette also includes some on-set footage, clips from the film, and still on-set photos throughout between the interviews. I really enjoyed this and it’s a shame that it doesn’t appear on the physical release itself, as it’s a digital exclusive.
- “Rocket Man: Anatomy of a Scene” (7:21 – HD) focuses on one particular scene in the film. This discussion that helps breaks down the scene consists of lots of on-set footage and interviews with Matthew Vaughn (producer), Dexter Fletcher (director), Andrew Buckley (location manager), and Taron Egerton (“Elton John”). There even is a picture-in-picture comparison to the footage as it was shot and how the final product in the film looked. I’d discuss this a bit further but I’d rather not dish spoilers out here and let people enjoy this themselves.
- “Rocket Man Music Video” (3:12 – HD) features actor Taron Egerton singing the song (made famous by Elton John) entirely.
- Additional Deleted and Extended Scenes include:
- “That’s My Grandad’s Name” (1:14 – HD)
- “The Morning After” (2:25 – HD)
Bonus materials are primarily found on the Blu-ray Disc and are ALL presented in HD video with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo sound – unless otherwise noted below. These include:
- Extended Musical Numbers (14:48 – HD) include an optional Introduction by Dexter Fletcher (0:30 – HD). This features the following songs: “The Bitch Is Back”, “Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting)”, “Breaking Down the Walls of Heartache”, and “Honky Cat”.
- Deleted and Extended Scenes (19:39 – HD) include an optional Introduction by Dexter Fletcher (0:25 – HD). These are really good and I felt a lot of them should have been in the movie. I mean, these are so good that I feel the film perhaps could have benefited from these being left in or later added in a Director’s Cut or such? Just a thought.
- “It’s Going to be a Wild Ride: Creative Vision” (7:08 – HD) features interviews with David Furnish (producer), Taron Egerton (“Elton John”), Elton John (executive producer), Matthew Vaughn (producer), and Dexter Fletcher (director).
- “Larger Than Life: Production Design & Costuming” (8:55 – HD) is pretty self-explanatory from the subtitle. This includes interviews with Dexter Fletcher (director), Marcus Rowland (production designer), Elton John (executive productive), Matthew Vaughn (producer), Andrew Buckley (location manager), Julian Day (costume designer), and Lizzie Yianni Georgiou (makeup & hair designer).
- “Full Tilt: Staging the Musical Numbers” (10:09 – HD) is another featurette that is self-explanatory from its subtitle. This includes interviews with Matthew Vaughn (producer), Dexter Fletcher (director), Bernie Taupin (songwriter), David Furnish (producer), Adam Murray (choreographer), Giles Martin (music producer), Taron Egerton (“Elton John”), Richard Madden (“John Reid”), and Marcus Rowland (production designer).
- “Music Reimagined: The Studio Sessions” (11:33 – HD) features interviews with Elton John (executive producer), Taron Egerton (“Elton John”), Giles Martin (music producer), Matthew Vaughn (producer), and Dexter Fletcher (director). This includes studio footage of Egerton recording the vocal parts found in the film. There’s also some on-set footage shown here.
- “Rocketman Lyric Companion: Sing-Along with Select Songs” (35:44 – HD) can either be played separately or along with the movie. The songs here (English language only) all feature Dolby Atmos sound.
- “Rocketman Jukebox: Jump Straight to the Music” (54:49 – HD) can be played individually or in a play all method. The songs here all feature Dolby Atmos sound.
Overall the bonus materials here are very lengthy, in-depth, informative, and worthwhile. There also are ways to jump straight to the music and also have sing-along type lyric companions to the songs in the film. A (collectible) special booklet is included written by Elton John himself with a message to fans of the film. It’s all impressive, just the extras found on the Blu-ray Disc itself (physically). There’s actually a lot of digital exclusive extras here as well, 67 minutes roughly total themselves, which are great.
Bonus Materials Rating: 4.5 (out of 5)
“Rocketman” proves to be one very unique and emotionally moving musical biography about the life of Elton John. The film is both as equally impressive in terms of its cinematography and its musical performances which were all vocally done by actor Taron Egerton. The onscreen chemistry here that tells the friendship between Elton John and his songwriter Bernie Taupin itself is amazing between Taron Egerton and Jamie Bell (as Taupin). The other performances all throughout this film prove to be very impressive and I have to say I enjoyed this film very much.
The 4K UHD Blu-ray comes with an impressive 4K visual presentation, many thanks to the great efforts at costume design, set design, and overall style. The cinematography (as mentioned) looks really amazing all throughout and the digital source material makes for impressive 4K material, even if it is from a 2K digital intermediate master. In terms of sound, this Dolby Atmos mix delivers but it may not be quite as over-the-top as some may expect it to be. It’s was, after all, musically produced by Giles Martin – son of the late legendary music producer George Martin (of The Beatles fame). This Atmos mix is thrown together very tastefully and makes nice use of the height channels almost all throughout the film, with a few slower dialogue-driven scenes being exceptions.
Now, the bonus materials here are great both on the Blu-ray Disc and on the digital exclusives as well. This is a film that I actually found myself almost enjoying the digital exclusive extras as much as those found on the disc. You get around 133 minutes total featurettes and then also some sing-along lyric companions and a jukebox (of sorts) to jump around to songs in the film. “Rocketman” on 4K UHD Blu-ray, while it lacks any material on the disc itself, has a pretty impressive set of bonus materials on the Blu-ray and digitally. Overall this makes for a Highly Recommended 4K release.
In terms of 4K UHD Blu-ray release, this gets:
4.5 (out of 5) for video quality
5 (out of 5) for audio quality
4.5 (out of 5) for bonus materials