Talking Movies: Rocketman, I Am Mother and What We Did On Our Holiday

Spling reviews Rocketman, I Am Mother and What We Did On Our Holiday as broadcast on Talking Movies, Fine Music Radio. Listen to podcast.


“Good morning – welcome to Talking Movies, I’m Spling…

This week, we’re talking about a musical biopic, a dystopian sci-fi thriller and a comedy drama.

Starting off with…


A musical fantasy about the fantastical human story of Elton John’s breakthrough years.

Director: Dexter Fletcher

Stars: Taron Egerton, Jamie Bell and Richard Madden

– Much like Bohemian Rhapsody, Rocketman encapsulates the essence of yet another prolific, world famous music icon
– starting from his childhood, we get a glimpse of the piano prodigy who started small and worked his way through the ranks
– a gifted musician with a great ear and strong voice, Reginald Dwight found his groove when he paired with songwriting partner Bernie Tobin
– Rocketman is an emotional journey, detailing Elton John’s difficult and influential relationship with his father
– grappling with his sexual identity, victim mentality and explosive fame, we get a better understanding of the Elton John of today
– Taron Egerton truly owns the part, adopting mannerisms, singing and immersing himself in the life and times of Elton John
– sleek cinematography, excellent production values and a strong collective of performances compel this over two hour film
– continually flowering from one scene to the next, there’s never a dull moment, operating with real emotional awareness and a great understanding of psychology
– cleverly harnessing the musical genre, bringing the songs to life with biographical impetus and a twinkle in the eye, it’s a mesmerising and entertaining tour of Elton’s life
– reminiscent of Across the Universe for its colourful exuberance and psychedelic showmanship, it’s the kind of film you could watch again
– the film does make a slight detour as it strays away from the chemistry of the songwriter-musician pairing, but brings everything back together for an emotional and satisfying conclusion

An excellent 8 on the splingometer

Moving on to…


A teenage girl is raised by a kindly robot “Mother” at an underground facility following the extinction of mankind.

Director: Grant Sputore

Stars: Luke Hawker, Rose Byrne and Maddie Lenton

– Director Alex Garland has delivered several surreal, elegant, beautiful and thought-provoking sci-fi thrillers to screen in recent years
– the pristine and poetic tone in his films Ex Machina and Annihilation, may have been what inspired Grant Sputore to write and direct I Am Mother
– while a small film with a tight cast, it remains powerful and evocative, teasing out the idea of a world controlled by artificial intelligence
– first-class production values give it a big budget feel, taking place at a futuristic facility where embryos are grown into babies
– beautiful to behold, thought-provoking in its machine vs. man commentary and taut in the way the mystery pervades in terms of character motivations, it’s a bold, original and authentic film experience
– an ethereal sci-fi soundtrack, picture perfect visuals and a suspenseful story, it has elements reminiscent of Passengers and Ex Machina
– while it loses precision control in the strange outside world and is a little slow-moving, it still remains impressive and worthy of your time if you’ve enjoyed any of the aforementioned films

A solid 7 on the splingometer!

And finally…


Doug and Abi take their curious kids on a family vacation.

Writer-Directors: Andy Hamilton, Guy Jenkin

Stars: Rosamund Pike, David Tennant and Billy Connolly

– Little Miss Sunshine was the feel good indie comedy drama of the year, taking a dysfunctional family road trip, packed with an oddball mix of characters and plenty of charm
– taking a page, What We Did On Holiday mimics this format with a stellar cast, transplanting the film in the United Kingdom and centring it on a family gathering for a 75th birthday
– quirky, offbeat and surprisingly witty, it moves at a clipped pace, keeping things upbeat and light while dealing with some fairly serious subject matter
– while offhandedly charming with some good laughs, it’s a bit raw, far-fetched and heavy-handed in execution
– while the performances are solid and full of heart, the story’s twists-and-turns could have used a bit more spit ‘n polish, relying on the upbeat tone to smooth over its rough edges
– paling in comparison to Little Miss Sunshine, it remains an enjoyable and lightweight distraction if you can roll with it

A satisfactory 6 on the splingometer

So just to wrap up…

ROCKETMAN… an epic, entertaining, emotional and psychedelic musical journey through Elton John’s formative years as a young man and music icon… An excellent 8!

I AM MOTHER… pristine visuals and taut, thought-provoking drama compel this elegant sci-fi thriller… A solid 7!

WHAT WE DID ON OUR HOLIDAY… a scruffy, off-kilter, witty yet heartwarming comedy drama about a dysfunctional family… A satisfactory 6!

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And remember, Don’t WING it, SPL!NG it!”