Nothin’ but a hound dog

New biographical drama film chronicles the rise of “The King”


Photo Courtesy of HBO Max

“Elvis” was released to theaters on June 24, 2022.

Carley Bailey, Staff Reporter

A tale of passion, rhinestones, and melody, “Elvis” delivers a lively musical drama that follows the life of Rockstar legend, Elvis Presley (Austin Butler) from cradle to grave. 

Released in June of 2022, audiences got the chance to relive the 20 year era from Presley’s rise to fame to his unrivaled stardom and experience mesmerizing performances by “The King of Rock and Roll” first-hand. 

The film starts off with the not-so-tragic end to Colonel Thomas Parker’s (Tom Hanks) life. Being Presley’s longtime manager, he was arraigned by millions to be a liar, a conman, and the overall cause of Presley’s death. Anyone who knows the dynamic between Elvis Presley and Thomas Parker knows that Parker is the grandmaster for all of the events to follow.  

Sprawled out on the ground and holding on to his last sliver of life, the first glimpse we get of Presley surely isn’t a pleasant one. Parker expresses “The only thing that matters is that that man gets up on that stage tonight,” as Presley is being pumped with fluids, preparing to be trotted out on stage like a reanimated corpse. 

With just the start of the film, the main antagonist is immediately put into perspective. Parker perfectly portrays that “misunderstood villain” role all stories like this seem to have. Even though it’s told through his own narration, Parker is easily sought to be the wrongdoer of Elvis’s story, keeping a tight grasp on each and every aspect of his life. I personally enjoyed how they began the timeline off with the end of Elvis’s career compared to the start. This concept really makes audiences question how things ended up this way and gives them the desire to continue on. 

The true commencement of the film displays Thomas Parker, who at the time was a carnival director, longingly searching for the man behind the compelling voice he had heard on the radio. Parker locates and observes Elvis and his band just before their performance as the film swiftly transitions into a charming childhood flashback.

Growing up in a small dirt-poor neighborhood in Tupelo, Mississippi, it’s clear that Presley found his love of music at an early age. Overcome with the power of the gospel, young Elvis found his style through the melody that surrounded him, which would permanently influence his musical work in years to come. 

The film jumps around between locations and different points in time very frequently, which at times can make it slightly hard to keep up with. However, I also feel as though this is just what the film needed to get viewers engaged. The back and forth sequence of Elvis as both child and adult just further demonstrates how captivating music was for him. 

After putting on the ground-breaking performance of “Baby, Let’s Play House” Presley had the attention of just about everybody in the audience, especially Thomas Parker. From this moment on, Presley and his pearly pink jumpsuit became the voice of the 50s.

At one point in the film, I was honestly a bit confused and disappointed with the soundtrack choices. For a movie about the 1950s era, I was definitely not expecting to hear Doja Cat singing “Vegas” and “Black Skinhead” by Kanye West. Don’t get me wrong, I enjoy the songs themselves, however, in this scenario, they seemed out-of-place and gave these scenes more of a modern feel for such an old-styled movie. 

One performance after another, Elvis continues to gain his well deserved fame and leave his print on the music industry. 

Not only do audiences get to experience Elvis’s extravagant performances, but the film also gives an inside look on the rather emotional side of his life, dealing with family and personal issues. With an alcoholic mother and a pursuing drug addiction, it’s easy to see that Elvis wasn’t all just style and jazz, he had a vulnerable side to him that no one could truly see. 

After watching Elvis’s shows for a while now, Parker finally decides to go forth with his plan to work alongside Elvis. With this, Parker offers Presley a record label and he agrees to sign to keep his family out of poverty. As his success with Parker continued to build, so did his income. Presley quickly reached the status of “millionaire” and bought a grand mansion for both him and his family.

Even though Presley was beloved by many, being that successful came with contention. People believed that the way Elvis acted on stage was barbarous and he was forced to change himself for the publics’ appeal. However, this “new Elvis” didn’t last long. Elvis defied expectations and performed the way that both he and his fans wanted him to, showing off “the real Elvis.” As expected, this performance of “lust and perversion” ended in chaos and started up a heap of trouble.

Elvis, being as lively as he was, became true inspiration to anyone who watched his performances. Austin Butler portrayed every aspect of Elvis’s personality and style with perfection. The way he put his all into his Elvis imitation truly made the movie the musical masterpiece it turned out to be. Especially in his performance that caused a disarray among fans, Butler put his whole heart and soul into living up to the real Elvis Presley. 

Mourning the loss of his mother to alcohol, Elvis was sent off to serve in the military. He was expected to return as the “all American superstar” that everyone wanted him to be; however, after meeting his soon-to-be wife, Priscilla (Olivia DeJonge), during his time away, Elvis came back more spirited and frisky than ever. 

I truly enjoyed watching Elvis return to his old self. So many people tried to change the way he was, but without his glittering jumpsuits and effortlessly great moves, Elvis wouldn’t be the sensation he was both back then and now. 

Back in Hollywood, newspapers raved over Presley’s return back to the music community as he dove right back into where he left off. 

Hip-thrusting his way through the 1970s, Elvis put on numerous show stopping performances and gained back the love of his fans he had once left behind. Despite the electrifying rush the crowd gave him, Elvis quickly became addicted to the love he felt on stage. Not only was he consumed by the fame, but he also became dependent on drugs to properly function through his performances. This fixation led to his divorce with his wife as well as his severe depression. 

In 1977, Elvis sang his final song “God bless, adios.” At the ripe age of 42, he was found dead. Some believed it was heart issues, while others believed it was no other than his manager, Thomas Parker. Nonetheless, Elvis’s death reigned in despair to millions. The film came to a final close as the audience received real-life footage of Elvis in both his early and final days. 

With both the impeccable time-line sequence and skillful acting by the performers, the film truly did Elvis’s story justice. “Elvis” was a dazzling representation of Presley’s era of fame. Through sublime animation, and possibly a bit too many bright lights, the film brought audiences along for the journey and gave them a deeper understanding of Presley’s perplexing yet tragic background. Although it seemed at times that the film was impossible to keep up with, producers kept audiences on their toes and articulated his story to its fullest extent.