4K Blu-ray Review: Elvis

Blu-ray Reviews, Reviews, Top Story

I don’t know who deserves to get the Oscar for doing so, but I didn’t think it was possible to dislike Tom Hanks and yet here I am after watching Elvis really, really disliking Tom Hanks! That alone is a monumental achievement. Okay, so it may not be Hanks that I dislike so much as the person he was portraying, Colonel Tom Parker. Parker was Elvis’s manager and the film is told mostly from his perspective. He chimes in as a narrator throughout parts of the film; however, there are plenty of moments that take place between characters where Parker isn’t involved. While I don’t know the ins and outs of Elvis’s entire career, what we get here is a condensed, dazzling, highly energetic showcase of the King’s time in the spotlight (and just prior) in a way that only Baz Luhrmann could deliver.

There are plenty of straight-forward biopics out there and they’re often fantastic, and I have no doubt the same could’ve been done for Elvis. A more dramatic story with a much different pacing and almost entirely different artistic choices and I’m sure it would be intriguing if told properly, as Elvis lived a grand and interesting life. What’s so fun and unique about Luhrmann’s film is that it’s just so majestic and engrossing, with transitions from scene to scene that viewers have come to expect from the stylistic director. The way he does it sees the story skip over quite a bit, but also keeps the film moving at a steady pace so that it remains entertaining, rarely slowing down to allow the audience to acknowledge its hefty two-hour-forty-minute runtime.

The film’s soundtrack and music (done by Elliott Wheeler) are just as vital as anything else when it comes to telling the story that Luhrmann wants to tell. Obviously in a film like Elvis, which is a musical in its own right, music takes center stage. The way that it has been integrated into the story is beautifully done, and it evokes such a natural and powerful emotion, though I’m sure some could accuse it of being Machiavellian in nature. I don’t believe that’s the case though, as it’s already a perfect rags to riches story, complete with a real life villain in Colonel Parker, as well as the film’s protagonist, Elvis himself.

Elvis is played by Austin Butler, and while it’s so hard to predict awards, I wouldn’t be shocked if he finds himself with an Oscar nomination – and definitely a Golden Globe nod, for his work here. Butler looks great, he sounds great and it feels as though he perfectly embodies Elvis throughout the film. He does sing the songs himself throughout, completely alone as a younger Elvis, and then with his vocals mixed with the real Elvis during the later years. But above the singing, it’s the emotions that Butler portrays even in just a glance, just a stare into the camera when thinking about the injustices in the world that truly make the performance.

The entire cast is phenomenal, and right up alongside Butler in the potential nomination department will be Hanks. As mentioned at the start, I can’t think of a time when I saw a movie starring Hanks that had me actually angry at the character. I can’t think of anyone who would have a bad thing to say about him, and that’s often reflected in the characters he chooses to play. Here, however, he’s just a terrible person who truly believes that he’s in the right for the choices he made when it came to Elvis’s career and Hanks brings him to the screen brilliantly.

The movie does keep this relationship center stage, having it be the focus over Elvis’s relationship with Priscilla, or anyone else. Priscilla (Olivia DeJonge) plays a pivotal role in the film, as this is still a biopic, and her love for Elvis is clear; however, while their love is showcased in a proper light, it’s only tapped into on a surface level, which works enough for the story Elvis is telling, but is just an example of how the film picks and chooses the parts of Elvis’s life to focus on. We learn about why Elvis has to go to war, but we never see him training or anything like that, as it’s just Parker talking about how he had to do it, and how it was there he met Priscilla. Within a few scenes we’re back in the thick of the Elvis/Parker storyline and the war is behind us.

Again, this is a choice made by Luhrmann and it’s the right one for the film. While some details don’t get the proper focus, and some details of Elvis’s life are left out completely, this is the tale of Elvis and Colonel Parker and the effect that Parker had on both Elvis’s life and career. It’s something that I wouldn’t have expected from an Elvis film, but I’m so happy that it was done. The door is open for someone else to do an Elvis story that covers other aspects of his life, and Sofia Coppola is already doing one focusing on the relationship between Elvis and Priscilla, so to have this unique take on such an intriguing aspect of Elvis’s life is really an unexpected joy that I can’t help falling in love with.

4K Blu-ray Video and Audio Review:

Elvis is a visually stunning film that is best experienced in 4K at home, and Warner Bros. has done a fantastic job doing so. The 2160p transfer is faithful to the vision of Cinematographer Mandy Walker, showcasing it in the best possible way it can be viewed in your living room (or wherever your system may be). She used multiple lenses, some specific to Elvis, to give the film a unique look that would captivate viewers, and alongside Luhrmann has delivered a wonderful viewing experience. The details and richness provided by the 4K transfer truly elevates Elvis to the headlining act that it should be.

On the audio side of things we’ve got a superb Dolby Atmos mix that brings the film right into your living room. The music is handled as flawlessly as one could hope for, whether it be a song being sung for a particular scene, or one playing over the course of multiple transitions. The songs and score fill up your living room in wonderful fashion, and heighten the emotion across the board. The dialogue is also clean and clear, as are the sound effects, all of which combined with the music help make the 4K home viewing experience of Elvis as close to the theatrical release as one could hope for.

Special Features:

Bigger Than Life: The Story of Elvis – This feature runs at just over 22-minutes in length and sees Luhrmann, Butler, Hanks, as well as costume designer Catherine Martin (who I didn’t mention in the review above, but gets top notch reviews for her work here!) as well as some other cast and crew talking about working on the film, bringing Elvis to the silver screen and doing so in a non-traditional way.

Rock ‘N Roll Royalty: The Music and Artists Behind Elvis This featurette comes in at seven-and-a-half minutes long and we see Wheeler join Luhrmann and Butler in talking about Elvis’s unique style, as well as those who performed said music in the film.

Fit for a King: The Style of Elvis This featurette comes in at 8-minutes in length and we see Martin, Butler and others return to talk about Elvis’s memorable and iconic outfits that are recognizable by all even today.

Viva Australia: Recreating Iconic Locations for Elvis This one is just seven-and-a-half minutes in length, but we get to see some really interesting behind-the-scenes views about building locations over the course of the three decades the film takes place. It’s really fun to see how it was done, and I wouldn’t have been against a longer feature that showcased some more.

Musical Moments – Here we’ve got 19 clips that total just over 46-minutes in length, and it’s just an easy way for viewers to go back and get to revisit all the musical moments in the film without having to watch the entire thing, or hunt them down in a less ideal fashion.

“Trouble” Lyric Video – This one is pretty self-explanatory.

Disclaimer: A review copy of this Blu-ray was sent to me to cover in honest and truthful fashion.

Warner Bros. Pictures Presents Elvis. Directed by: Baz Luhrmann. Written by: Baz Luhrmann, Sam Bromell, Craig Pearce. Starring: Austin Butler, Tom Hanks, Olivia DeJonge, Richard Roxburgh. Running time: 159 Minutes. Rating: PG. Released on 4K Blu-ray: Sept. 13, 2022.

Brendan Campbell was here when Inside Pulse Movies began, and he’ll be here when it finishes - in 2012, when a cataclysmic event wipes out the servers, as well as everyone else on the planet other than John Cusack and those close to him. Brendan’s the #1 supporter of Keanu Reeves, a huge fan of popcorn flicks and a firm believer that sheer entertainment can take a film a long way. He currently resides in Canada, where, for reasons stated above, he’s attempting to get closer to John Cusack.