Kicking ass and singing songs 

click to enlarge PHOTO SUBMITTED - rocketman The Elton John biopic Rocketman made a splash at Cannes last week.
  • photo submitted
  • rocketman The Elton John biopic Rocketman made a splash at Cannes last week.

You know what never gets old? Watching something, anything, kick the living shit out of something else.

Red ants versus black ants? Definitely. Bees versus giant wasp? Yes please. Zombie versus shark? Hold my diaper. From the Ultimate Warrior versus King Kong Bundy to the gladiator rings of ancient Rome to the Whistler taxi loop on a summer long weekend, civilization seems at its most entertained when watching carnage. (That's even the early emotional climax of Ridley Scott's Gladiator, when Russell Crowe butchers four or five dudes then throws his sword into the audience in disgust, "Are you not entertained?")

Well, chances are we will be entertained this Friday when Godzilla: King of the Monsters opens at the Whistler Village 8. Promoted as a sequel to the 2014 Godzilla reboot (and part of Legendary/Warner's "Monsterverse" mass reboot movement), this looks to be as advertised: monsters beating the tar out of each other while a (very talented) human cast stands by and watches.

There's not much more to say about the 35th Godzilla film (most of the previous ones came from Toho, the Japanese film studio that came up with the Godzilla character back in 1954). The good news is that there's no shortage of giant monsters here: Mothra, Rhodan, and the hydra-like King Ghidorah also star.

The bad news is, a lack of press screenings probably means the studio knows what we all suspect—beyond monster battles, this movie will not change your life. But really, who needs it to? (The Godzilla vs Kong sequel is already slated for 2020).

Also opening this week, Rocketman is the Elton John biopic that made such a big splash at Cannes last week. Taron Egerton (Kingsman: The Secret Service) stars as the titular piano man in a by-the-playbook humble-origins-to-stardom-to-self-destruction-to-salvation rock 'n' roll story we've seen many times before.

That's OK though, because director Dexter Fletcher (Eddie the Eagle, Wild Bill) strays far enough from the formula that he is able to inject some of the real magic of Elton John's persona and music into the film. Be warned, there is a lot of music in this film, and the musical montages are very musical (like the genre) but they work to elevate Rocketman beyond the cookie-cutter rock biopic narrative template.

Also a plus, Fletcher doesn't shy away from the sexuality and addiction aspects of the story. Where Bohemian Rhapsody was criticized for tiptoeing around certain elements of Freddy Mercury's proclivities, Rocketman is a much more candid look at John's homosexuality, inner conflicts with his past, and ultimate escape. (Interestingly, Fletcher was the director called in to save Bohemian Rhapsody after Bryan Singer went AWOL amidst scandal. Fletcher stuck to Singer's more closeted vision there, with Rocketman we get a glimpse of what could have been.)

Even though the narrative ends in the early '80s, it's never easy to summarize a rock career in one flick and certain narrative arcs in Rocketman are left un-ventured down. For the most part, however, this is a solid flick, especially when Egerton (who does his own singing and really nails it) is in the spotlight. Rocketman (crocodile) rocks.

On the small screen, iTunes has a bunch of killer docs on sale right now ($0.99 rentals) and one worth checking out is Mission to Lars, an ultra-low-budget road trip doc about Tom Spicer, a UK man living with Fragile X syndrome, an autism-like genetic disorder that comes with developmental problems and learning disabilities. Tom keeps his spirits high, lives in a care home, and works in a factory shredding paper to make pet cage lining, and he's obsessed with the idea of meeting Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich.

After listening to Tom say, "Gotta see Lars" on repeat for more than a decade, his sister and brother decide to make it happen. What follows is a touching family road trip story about chasing a dream and what happens when you find them.

"Everyone should have one big adventure in their lives," says sister/producer Kate Spicer. Tom's is pretty sweet to watch.


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