Movie: Elvis
Plot: From his childhood in Tupelo, Mississippi to his rise to stardom starting in Memphis, Tennessee, and his conquering of Las Vegas, Nevada, Elvis Presley becomes the first rock ‘n roll star and changes the world with his music.
Cast: Tom Hanks, Austin Butler, Olivia DeJonge, Kelvin Harrison Jr., Kodi Smit-McPhee, and Dacre Montgomery
Director: Baz Luhrmann
Release Date: June 24, 2022
Studio: Warner Bros.
HCA Overall Grade: B+

John Nguyen says, “Elvis blends the energetic and glittery styles of Luhrmann and the captivating and rockin’ performance of Austin Butler. The director focuses on the highlights of the musician’s journey, and it was an intriguing look at what it was like to be there when the King was around.”

Grade: A

Rasha Goel says, “This isn’t your typical biopic or musical. Visually, it’s a beautifully depicted film. The story told from the perspective of the singer’s crooked manager Colonel Tom Parker may be lengthy, yet you won’t take your eyes off Austin Butler, who is sincere in embodying one of the biggest cultural icons of all time. He nails it with his performance.”

Grade: A

Clarence Moye says, “Baz Luhrmann and Austin Butler have created an addictive and adrenaline-laced Elvis biopic. Butler’s performance is one for the ages.”

Grade: A-

Scott Menzel says, “Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis lives up to the hype. An ambitious and wholly entertaining that takes some big swings. While the film isn’t perfect, I appreciated how much Luhrmann managed to include into the film. Austin Butler delivers a performance for the ages in Elvis. A true tour-de-force in which the viewer never sees Butler, only Elvis. His transformation as Elvis Presley is arguably one of the best that I’ve ever seen on the big screen. Elvis might not work for everyone but as someone who loves big screen musical spectacles, I enjoyed the experience immensely.”

Grade: A-

Staci Layne Wilson says, “Baz Luhrmann fans will get all the pomp and circumstance we’ve come to know and love, from the color-saturated cinematography to the dizzying edits, and of course, the gorgeous costumes, and attention to detail in the hair and makeup. This biopic really is a hunk, a hunk, a burnin’ love. See it on the biggest screen you can — Elvis has entered the building!”

Grade: A+

Patrick Stoner says, “If you’re shooting for a concert film or a superstar extravaganza, there will be many moments when your targets are met, but you’ve aimed too low. This is a complex film by a master craftsman that explores fandom, talent, ambition, social significance & character study.”

Grade: A+

Nikki Fowler says, “Please throw every award at the enormous talent that is Austin Butler for his stunning performance. Austin charms and shines in his charismatic portrayal of Elvis. You will have trouble discerning between Austin’s performance and voice vs. any flashback clip of Presley. He submerged deep into this role and owns it. Costumes, writing, sound, and editing were outstanding. Black culture and music is celebrated and woven from beginning to end, as it should be.”

Grade: A+

Dan Murrell says, “Elvis is a good movie featuring a great performance from Austin Butler as Elvis Presley. More than an imitation, Butler’s performance is an embodiment of Presley. I never stopped to think about the actor playing Elvis, I just believed I was watching Elvis. Tom Hanks, and his prosthetics, don’t fare as well. As Elvis’s exploitative manager Colonel Tom Parker, Hanks turns in an uncharacteristically showy performance that often distracts from the truth that Butler brings to his role. The performance scenes are electric, and director Baz Luhrmann’s style holds the film back from becoming a by-the-numbers biopic. The movie is too long by about 20 minutes and does gloss over some of the less pleasant details of Elvis’ life, but it should be celebrated for acknowledging the influence of the black musicians who played a major role in Presley’s rise.”

Grade: B

Aaron Neuwirth says, “Elvis may not be breaking too much new ground, but between the fun of the singer’s early days and the growth of his character in the later stages of his short life, not even Colonel Tom Parker can stand in the way of what works best about this film – Butler’s performance, and the stylish efforts from Luhrmann.”

Grade: B

Francisco Cangiano says, “Elvis is Baz Luhrmann’s best film since Moulin Rouge! A delirious, non-stop fever dream that tells the story of the iconic hip-shaking star. Austin Butler delivers a star-turning performance that carries the whole thing. Some (frenetic) pacing issues aside, really enjoyed it.”

Grade: B

Don Shanahan says, “Processing delirium for 159 minutes from what could have been 240, “Elvis” is an opus of exhaustion. Luhrmann’s fever dream veers from campfire fable to therapy session and is as gaudy as its subject. You don’t just succumb to the Aussie filmmaker’s trademark visual and aural excess. You submit to it, because, goodness gracious, it’s Elvis Aaron Presley and the stature of his legend on this display is indomitable.”

Grade: B-

Tom O’Brien says, “Early on, Baz Luhrmann’s ELVIS thankfully discards the usual musical biopic tropes, helped in no small degree by Austin Butler, who pulls the operatic film back from the brink more than once. But ultimately Baz gonna Baz. Even at 158 minutes, ELVIS is, at the same time, both too much and not enough.”

Grade: B-

Ema Sasic says, “This is one stylish and flashy biopic! Some really creative editing and storytelling were used in the early years, and I wish more of that was in the second half of the movie. The cinematography is just gorgeous and really gives you a front-row seat to this legend’s life. But wow does Austin Butler do the damn thing! He’s captivating from start to finish. Tom Hanks, on the other hand, plays a literal cartoon character. I still think he’s OK, but certainly not memorable. The film is way too long though. There’s a lot going on since it’s trying to cover Elvis’ entire life, so I wish it focused on one particular time period.”

Grade: B-

Kevin Taft says, “A dizzying smorgasbord that only Baz Luhrmann can deliver, “Elvis” is strengthened by a mesmerizing performance by Austin Butler. While the 2:40 minute film sometimes still plays like a “cliff notes” version of Elvis’ life, it occasionally slows down to offer some introspection. Otherwise, it’s go-go-go which can be both good and not great. The production design is tremendous and the cast is terrific, although Tom Hanks as the bulbous manager does seem a bit over-the-top, but that’s par for the course with Baz. Worth it for Austin and a reminder of how wonderful an artist Elvis was.”

Grade: B+

Rachel Wagner says, “Fortunately the new movie Elvis has the style and panache of director Baz Luhrmann behind it which makes the film captivating even while acknowledging its more pedestrian elements.”

Grade: B+

James White says, “Given how larger-than-life Elvis Presley always appeared, he seemed like the perfect fit for the ostentatious stylistic filmmaking of Baz Luhrmann. As it turns out, it’s largely a good combination, though Luhrmann’s reluctance to go much beyond the surface hurts the film’s effectiveness. Luhrmann’s endlessly-roaming camera, love of montage, and stylish flourishes certainly work well here – he’s at his best when bringing performances to life. The script, though, can’t match the visuals and the result is an unbalanced one. Still, it’s certainly a spectacle, and Austin Butler is a star in the making.”

Grade: B+

Zoë Rose Bryant says, “Elvis is an explosive, one-of-a-kind cinematic experience. If we must get a million new music biopics every year, give me more like THIS – a true spectacle crafted by an auteur with a signature style and capped off with a tour de force lead performance by a surefire star like Austin Butler.”

Grade: B+

David Gonzalez says, “Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis is a bombastic journey about one of music’s greatest artists. Running on 1.21 gigawatts, it’s a vibrant and electric film that could only come from Luhrmann”

Grade: B+

Mara Knopic says, “When imagining an Elvis Presley biopic, the first director that comes to mind is Baz Luhrmann. The avant-garde nature of Lurhmann’s films is well-suited to the aesthetic of Presley, particularly during his time in Las Vegas. Austin Butler’s performance as Elvis is sublime; it did not feel like an imitation, but rather an exceptionally well-researched, painstakingly rehearsed achievement in acting. The film is not dull but would benefit from delicate edits over each period of Presley’s life to shorten its run time. Additionally, the film does not confront the problematic nature of the relationship between Elvis and his wife, Priscilla, instead, it romanticizes it. Despite this, it is an exceptional showing from Butler, and a captivating film for the die-hard Elvis fan while also being informative and entertaining for the more casual one.”

Grade: B+

Jana J. Monji says, “Bay Luhrmann’s penchant for excess and attention to musical detail gives this Elvis Presley biopic the kind of glamor and shine it needs. Austin Butler as Elvia gives a glorious performance, going from an ah-shucks kind of guy to a glutton for food and fame, while Tom Hanks as his manager Colonel Tom Parker gives us a politely sinister villain.”

Grade: B+

Kathia Woods says, “Austin Butler did a great job however Hanks was disappointing. The movie doesn’t add anything new to the new Elvis persona.”

Grade: C

Fiona Underhill says, “As someone was married by ‘Elvis’ in Vegas, and who has made the pilgrimage to Graceland AND someone who is a Baz Luhrmann defender — you could say I was highly anticipating this movie. Now that I’ve seen it, I’m not really sure how I felt about it. I definitely prefer unconventional biopics, and this is certainly that. I didn’t love Colonel Parker being the narrator though. For a two-hour forty-minute movie, it still manages to entirely skip almost the entire 60s. One of the highlights was the movie-making montage, but this was such a brief reference to a really significant part of Elvis’ career. Much more time is spent in the early part of his fame in the 50s, and then in his downward trajectory on the Vegas stage in the 70s. Better use of the runtime could have been made, and the pacing was an issue. The supporting cast was surprisingly good, and all sorts of people were in this movie that I had no idea would be there from the trailers – such as Kelvin Harrison Jr, Kodi Smit McPhee, Dacre Montgomery, and more. Austin Butler has rightly been singled out for praise, and deservedly so. He should be set to become a big star now. I’m feeling extremely mixed on this movie overall, but would still recommend people watch it!”

Grade: C+

Ryan McQuade says, “With his brand new, two-hour and forty-minute epic, director Baz Luhrmann has put the final nail in the coffin of the music biopic. Manic, clichéd, and uninspired, Elvis can’t even be saved by Austin Butler’s committed performance. It is a massive bore.”

Grade: D-

Elvis is now playing exclusively in theaters