“Rocketman,” with its rock ‘n’ roll fantasy spirit, will eventually be a Broadway musical. Mark it down.

In the meantime, enjoy this engrossing Elton John biopic in the theaters in glorious surround sound and a huge screen where it’s meant to be seen.

With flourishes of great rock movies such as the Who’s “Tommy” and even Alan Parker’s “Pink Floyd: The Wall,” “Rocketman” tells John’s story stylistically, with emotional depth and has the benefit of possessing a memorable soundtrack from the start. As can be witnessed by his current tour, John’s music remains timeless.

However, even with that, director Dexter Fletcher, filming from a script by Lee Hall (“Billy Elliot,” “War Horse”), understands that throughout John’s career, the British singer evolved into a flamboyant, larger-than-life superstar and performer.

What better way to deal with such a fact than viewing it through the glowing realm of fantasy and it serves this film well as the audience tours John’s life from a child where he suffers at the coldness and indifference of his parents Stanley (Steven Makintosh) and Sheila (an unrecognizable Bryce Dallas Howard), neither of whom expected their offspring to amount to much.

They eventually divorce, a fact that has a profound effect on the adolescent Reginald Dwight, John’s legal name. He throws himself into his music and the stars align when he meets Bernie Taupin (Jamie Bell), his collaborator of now more than 50 years.

But the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle has often been a refuge for fractured geniuses, those who have little way of expressing their inner pain in a constructive manner. Music serves as that outlet for John and with success comes fragility as he acquires manipulators, hangers on and a massive, destructive dependence on everything from booze to cocaine to prescription drugs, all of which rub his emotional nerves raw.

It’s put on display in more than a few mesmerizing scenes as John searches for the one thing he views as being missing from his life — acceptance. It’s tragic, touching and who knows what’s true as Fletcher and Hall dissect his life.

What’s clear, however, is Fletcher is able to wring every bit of emotion from key scenes — the realization he’s gay, a come-to-Jesus moment with his mother and a reunion with probably the most important person in his life.

In Taron Egerton (the “Kingsmen” series), he’s found an actor capable of pulling off the emotional range necessary to paint a complete picture of John. As flamboyant as John was/is, he could have been little more than a buffoonish caricature. Instead, we’re given a man of depth worth of sympathy and empathy.

As Taupin, Bell proves every bit a partner in this enterprise. He’s a co-conspirator early on, but knew when enough was enough and when to get out. He does so, however, without forgetting his allegiances.

They thrive under Fletcher’s direction, which mixes elements of the fantastical and metaphorical in a captivating manner. Fletcher was called in to rescue “Bohemian Rhapsody” last year, eventually turning it into a global success. This effort is much better.

“Rocketman” is as much a journey as it is a film and is certainly one worth taking.

 

George M. Thomas dabbles in movies and television for the Beacon Journal. Reach him at gthomas@thebeaconjournal.com. Follow him on Twitter @ByGeorgeThomas