Just like Elton John and Freddie Mercury, Rocketman and Bohemian Rhapsody both have a lot in common but which is better?
Rocketman releases across the UK today and will be hitting cinemas elsewhere in the coming days and just like Elton John himself, the film has been getting a lot of attention for its lavish stylings and over the top characters but there’s one comparison that movie fans will find hard to ignore.
That comparison is between the new Elton John biopic and last year’s Bohemian Rhapsody, focused on the band Queen and its lavish and over the top lead-singer Freddie Mercury.
But which of the two films comes out on top?
We begin with a look at the films’ directors. While Bohemian Rhapsody ended up going for Bryan Singer, an appropriate name for a music-themed biopic, Rocketman’s lead man, Dexter Fletcher is easily the bigger talking point here.
Fletcher was initially slated to direct Bohemian Rhapsody but was dropped over ‘creative differences’ and a number of aspects in Rocketman could easily have shown just what those creative differences were…
The first real comparison that has to be made between the two films is how the artist’s music is used throughout.
While Bohemian Rhapsody used Queen’s wide array of songs in a traditional sense, having the band perform them at gigs and recording them in studios, Rocketman takes a somewhat different approach to the works of Elton John, delving deep into the world of a full-blown musical at times.
Queen’s biopic takes you along a journey, using the band’s songs as markers in time if you like. We see the band growing in confidence and creative scope as they put together the likes of Killer Queen, Love of My Life and of course Bohemian Rhapsody, but Rocketman uses Elton John’s music to punctuate moments in the story.
For example, Elton has an argument later on in the film and moments later Taron Egerton breaks out into Sorry Seems to be the Hardest Word to help dramatise the scene.
Both films go for different approaches but both find equal success in the methods they chose and you can’t help but wonder if Bohemian Rhapsody would’ve been more of a musical if Dexter Fletcher stayed on to direct.
Of course, both Elton John and Freddie Mercury were titans of the music industry in the 70s and 80s and both were equally huge personalities.
It’s an easy comparison to make between the two as both were hugely successful, colourful characters that fell victim to stardom in very similar ways.
Both films explore their characters in an almost identical manner, from their sexuality and drug addictions to the pair’s crippling loneliness as a result of their fame.
The question is, can Taron Egerton’s epic performance as Elton John gain recognition equal to that of the Oscar-winning Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury?
While the two films obviously star two huge musicians and their different paths to fame, surprisingly Rocketman and Bohemian Rhapsody share a character in the music manager John Reid.
In both instances, Reid initially takes in our hopeful musicians but lets greed get in the way and becomes more of an antagonist as the films go on.
As it happens, both films brought in ex-Game of Thrones actors to portray Reid.
Bohemian Rhapsody brought in Aiden Gillen as Reid, while Rocketman made use of Richard Madden to give Taron Egerton’s Elton John a bit of eye-candy.
It’s interesting to see how two films can have had a slightly different take on the same character. You definitely do get the sense that Madden’s performance will be remembered best though as he goes from Elton’s lover to a rather loathsome character.
Regardless of the similarities the two films share, I can safely say that both Bohemian Rhapsody and Rocketman give an equally brilliant insight into two of the biggest names in musical history and are definitely worth a watch.
Whether Elton John can topple Freddie Mercury or not is hard to say as Bohemian Rhapsody set the bar very high for Rocketman to clear. The proof will be in the pudding of box office totals and Oscar nominations.