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Here's What The Rotten Tomatoes Reviews Are Saying About Elvis

An undeniable titan in the world of music, Elvis Presley thrived in other forms of entertainment as well. Most notably, he graced the silver screen many times throughout the 1950s, '60s, and '70s, cementing himself as a multimedia star. Despite his death in 1977, he lives on in pop culture with legions of fans across the globe. Therefore, you could likely imagine that director Baz Luhrmann's "Elvis," which features Austin Butler in the title role, won't struggle to find an audience — even though they've had to wait nearly a decade for the film to come to fruition.

"Elvis" has been in the production pipeline since 2014, when Luhrmann attached himself to the project (via The Wrap). Sadly for those looking forward to it, nothing but radio silence ensued until Tom Hanks joined the fray in the role of Elvis' manager, Colonel Tom Parker, in 2019. Shortly after, word got out that Butler would play the "King of Rock and Roll," the supporting cast filled out, and principal photography began in early 2020. "Elvis" originally planned to debut in October of 2021, but a cascade of COVID-19-related delays pushed it to the June 24, 2022 date.

Not only did Elvis Presley's wife, Priscilla Presley, already give the film a heartwarming endorsement, but their daughter, Lisa Marie Presley, gave it a stamp of approval, too. A few lucky critics also got to see the movie early, and as evidenced by its Rotten Tomatoes reviews, they have a lot to say about it.

Luhrmann's directorial flair and Butler's performance make Elvis a hit

"Elvis" boasts a 76% Rotten Tomatoes critic score with a consensus that reads, "The standard rock biopic formula gets all shook up in 'Elvis,' with Baz Luhrmann's dazzling energy and style perfectly complemented by Austin Butler's outstanding lead performance." That's an all-around impressive showing that the movie didn't earn by accident. In the eyes of many critics, "Elvis" has a lot going for it that makes it such a home run.

While explaining that it may take time for one to cozy up to "Elvis," Matthew Toomey of the Film Pie writes that once you do, you'll find it's a worthy tribute to a music legend. He also points to Butler's take on Elvis as an especially strong selling point that alone is worth the price of admission. Radio Times' Jayne Nelson offers praise for Butler as well, while mentioning how Luhrmann's famously flashy, colorful style couldn't have lent itself better to the production.

"The film is ultimately a fittingly over the top tribute to one of the most famous people in entertainment history," claims George Simpson for the Daily Express, though he asserts that one of the many Elvis-centric documentaries out there would serve you better as an exploration of his life story. Nevertheless, according to Zhuo-Ning Su of Awards Daily, "Elvis" has all the makings of an Oscars frontrunner — specifically in regard to Butler's performance and the movie's technical strengths.

Elvis doesn't have every critic tapping along with the beat

"Elvis" has won over many critics and earned itself mounds of early praise. At the same time, like any piece of media, it's not without its share of detractors. Plenty of those that got to check out the film ahead of its theatrical premiere weren't nearly as impressed by the final product as their contemporaries. Here's what some of them feel held "Elvis" back from achieving levels of greatness similar to those of its subject.

"As it is, this is just another exercise in Elvis impersonation, its upper lip twitching to no purpose," comments Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian, explaining that he found Austin Butler's approach to Elvis Presley serviceable but not necessarily intriguing. On the other hand, AwardsWatch's Adam Solomons enjoyed what Butler and, to some extent, Tom Hanks brought to the table. Still, they feel their efforts weren't enough to hold an otherwise messy feature together.

Richard Lawson of Vanity Fair presented similar sentiments in his review — titled "Austin Butler is the Only Thing That Works in Baz Luhrmann's 'Elvis'" — concluding with, "'Elvis' presents the spectacular, but has little to say when the lights are off and it's just the man, grasping to find purchase in the making of his own legacy." Slant Magazine's Jake Cole was particularly disappointed in the story's superficiality and lack of interest in exploring the nuances of Elvis' personal and professional downfall.

Time will tell how general audiences will respond to "Elvis" and all that it packs into its near-160-minute runtime. Surely we'll find out when it finally opens on June 24.