Simple Review- I’m going slightly mad
There have been few bands in the history of rock that are as instantly recognizable as Queen. From Brian May’s unique sounding Red Special electric guitar to Freddie Mercury’s amazing vocal acrobatics, Queen brought over-the-top fun and flamboyant artistry to the masses. As unique as their music is, their lead singer is the stuff of legend. Freddie Mercury may have left this world prematurely ( He didn’t pass away, he was just too awesome for this planet to contain) but he managed to set the bar incredibly high for those rock singers that followed him. This week we get to witness the incredible story of Queen and their famous lead singer with the film Bohemian Rhapsody, a biopic showing the start of the band to their epic performance at Live Aid in 1985. Will this movie be ” Heaven for Everyone” or will it be a “Misfire”? Go ahead and rush ‘Headlong” into this review and ” Let me entertain you” “Dear friends”. ( Oh yes there will be a ton of Queen song titles in this review!)
I am going to go ahead and tell you, my reliable reader, this movie frustrated the hell out of me. Queen was such a unique band that I was hoping this would be a creative look into their rise as a rock group. With such a larger than life figure being a central part of the bands’ fame, the movie never feels like it does enough to equal real life. I admit it is difficult to separate my fandom for Queen and trying to be an impartial reviewer, but it is my blog so if I mix the two so be it, and as a fan things that were just not right jumped off the screen to me. Be warned, I may venture into some spoilers but I will try to limit them, so ” Spread your wings” as we fly into the positives of Bohemian Rhapsody before we “Tear it up”. ( Is it getting annoying yet?)
Bohemian Rhapsody has two things that will keep you entertained: the main cast and the soundtrack. The soundtrack is an obvious highlight as you will struggle to not sing along in the theater. I failed to maintain my poise and sang right along, especially during the climactic Live Aid sequence. The movie is at its most fun during the reenactment of Queen concerts as the actors playing the band give it their all to do justice to one of the best live bands ever. Whoever did the casting of this movie deserves some kind of award, especially the actors playing the band. Rami Malek is the stand out as Freddie Mercury. I won’t go as far as saying this is an award-winning performance, as the writing and direction do not do his performance any favors, but he brings the arrogance and playfulness that Freddie made famous. Gwilym Lee is just as great as guitarist Brian May. He doesn’t have as much to do in the film as Rami, but, damn, he was like a clone of Brian. Ben Hardy, as Roger Taylor, and Joe Mazzello, as John Deacon, are spot on as well, even though, again, they are not given much to do in the film. The rest of the cast is fine, basically serving their role in this basic plot of a movie.
There were some other fun moments that helped add some life to this movie. I loved the 20th Century Studios Fanfare at the very beginning as it gets a Queen upgrade that will bring a smile to your face. The moments in the studio as they record their early albums were not only interesting and fun but did convey the members of the band forming a closer bond as they try to find their “sound”. There were a few clever moments in the direction of the film. One when the record executive tells the band “Bohemian Rhapsody” will never be a hit song, and then another cool montage of the band traveling the United States playing various theaters. I wish there had been more of these moments as they made the movie fun and more Queen-like. The final moments at Live Aid were almost epic. To stay positive I will say the actors did an amazing job bringing that historic moment to life and it was fun to sing along with Queen, even if it wasn’t “real”. Now it is time for the “Hammer to fall” on this movie and the thing it does so wrong.
In case you were unaware, Bohemian Rhapsody had a ton of behind the scenes issues that would take me too long to explain, and it shows. This movie never gains any momentum, instead, it starts and sputters along giving you some fun moments then some biopic by the numbers plot. That is what killed me as I watched this movie, it is so by the numbers it is frustrating. Freddie is the family rebel, the band meets, the band struggles to make it, they make it big, fame goes to Freddie’s head, they fight and break up and finally get back together to conquer the stage again. You’ve seen it a million times in these types of movies. Why does that frustrate me you ask? It is frickin’ Queen, one of the most un-by the numbers bands ever! There is so much in their history to draw from that would be way more interesting than this basic plot, so why give us this? All it does it make Queen and, worst of all, Freddie Mercury kind of boring.
Let’s deal with the Freddie Mercury we get in this movie. It takes a real “talent” to make someone so flamboyant and entertaining as Mr. Mercury and make him average. Again. this is not on Rami Malek, it is all on the writers and directors. There is a moment when the band first takes the stage at Live Aid where they have Freddie look nervous as he starts his performance. I almost threw something at the screen!! Freddie Mercury nervous on stage!?!?! Freddie Mercury?? Trust me, Freddie didn’t know the meaning of stage fright, especially at that point in his career. Another aggravating scene is when Freddie waits in the hallway as the band decides if they want him back in the band. ( even though they never, ever broke up in real life). Again, Freddie Mercury?? I find it hard to believe Freddie Mercury would stand in the hall like a kid waiting on his parents to decide on a punishment. If that had actually happened, he would have walked out of that door and never come back. It felt like the writers didn’t know anything about him, which is weird as two of the surviving band members were producers on the film. You think they would have said that never happened, but it seems they didn’t do much of that throughout the film. There are weird moments where the timeline doesn’t match up with what really happened. It is hard to explain but Queen fans will pick up on it. Not to mention things that just did not happen. I don’t understand why they did that like I said, there is plenty to draw from with Queen so why take the easy way out?
The last real criticism is the one that most will be talking about, Freddie’s lifestyle. Yes, the film does go into his sexuality, but, lord, does it handle it terribly. Freddie, in real life, was gay/bisexual which is a surprise to no one reading this review or seeing this movie. Nowadays, that isn’t such a big deal, but during Queen’s rise to popularity, it was a controversial subject, one that Freddie said was his business and he was here to entertain the masses. However, he did have a rock star lifestyle and the indulgences that came with it. In the movie, Freddie’s sexuality is played more as a reason for all the troubles Freddie faced in his life. He was the one partying while the straight band members went home with their wives. He loses his soulmate Mary Austin and the band breaks up due to his bad gay friends. Of course, before the Live Aid show, Freddie’s dad and straight band mates finally accept his lifestyle choice. I know Freddie wasn’t public about his sexuality, but he wasn’t trying too hard to hide it either. It is just a poorly written part of the movie that goes generic in its approach and makes Freddie the bad guy in the story.
Before I go “Stone Cold Crazy”, I need to wrap up this rambling review. Overall, Bohemain Rhapsody is not a bad movie it is just too familiar to stand out. That is its biggest crime because Queen stood out in the history of Rock and the band, and Freddie Mercury deserved a creative, energetic approach to their biopic. I would recommend seeing it if you can overlook its flaws and have fun singing along at the Live Aid show. Then go home and watch the real thing on youtube to see a man absolutely own 100,000 people. Hope you enjoyed this review and like, comment, follow and share so I can bring sanity to this otherwise insane world! oh and ” gimme, gimme, gimme fried chicken”!
Again, thanks for your time!
The Movie Psycho