Bohemian Rhapsody review
Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? Caught in a landslide, no escape from reality. Open your eyes. Look up to the skies and see. These are just a few lyrics of the famous Queen song, "Bohemian Rhapsody" that is still one of the greatest songs of all time. In fact, there are a lot of songs by Queen I can recite including "We Will Rock You", "Radio Ga Ga", "Under Pressure", and of course, "We Are the Champions". Along with very catchy melodies, the bands prominence could not been without the vocal range of Freddy Mercury.
That combination of an amazing voice and the right players is so prominent, that it was like catching lightning in a bottle. I can hardly come up with one good song let alone an entire catalog that still holds up. I had a lot of their stuff growing up, and even now, I still find myself going to Queen's music whenever I wanted some uplifting rock. Again, I think a lot of it rides on Freddy Mercury, who was one of the few people in existence who was destined for greatness. If a genius like Mozart has a great movie like Amadeus, perhaps Freddy Mercury can be replicated with the biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody.
In 1970, we open with an Indian-British man then known as Farrokh Bulsara, before he became Freddy Mercury (played by Rami Malek) who works as a baggage handler at an airport. He goes to a nightclub where he sees a band called Smile playing. When their lead singer leaves the group, Freddy meets guitarist Brian May (played by Gwilym Lee) and drummer Roger Taylor (Played by Ben Hardy) and offers to be their new lead singer. They agree, get a new bassist John Deacon (played by Joseph Mazzello) and rename their band Queen.
They play nightclubs, and Freddy's voice and onstage persona get the bands fame to quick success. At the same time, Freddy even gets engaged with Mary Austin (played by Lucy Boynton). Even when their original label refuses to release "Bohemian Rhapsody" as a single, they manage to make it a hit and their fourth album A Night at the Operais their biggest. During this time however, Freddy questions his sexuality when he begins an affair with his manager Paul. This pushes Freddy away from the band in favor of him looking for "Somebody to Love".
You'd think that a movie about Freddy Mercury would be a grand, almost operatic like experience. For what it is, Bohemian Rhapsody is fine. Its not a great movie, but it was entertaining. It was said that the real life band members wanted the movie the focus on them all, but most people really want to know Freddy. We get some idea, thanks to the amazing performance of Rami Malek. Even if his makeup can look a little off, he still captures the excitement and flamboyance while making him human. I'm glad they dubbed him instead of trying to recreate his singing voice, as most people would have spotted it immediately.
So if the actor had got it right, what's wrong with the movie? Its not that the movie is bad, but that it's like any other music biopic. We see the group form, try and write and record music, get it on the radio, perform tours, see people come and go, see them return and settle their differences. I know the movie wanted to show the story of Queen, but we've come far within telling those stories. I was happy and satisfied, but something still felt missing. The best I can describe was that while it does a good job imitating Queen and Freddy Mercury, it always feels like an imitation.
Think back to other music movies like Love & Mercy and the remake of A Star is Born. Both movies showed the trials of being an artist, what that means for the people around them, and the pressure of living up to that fame. Part of me still deosn't know much about Freddy Mercury other then he was bisexual and loved to throw parties. In fact, the furthest I got was that most of the members of Queen were college nerds who formed a group.
I'll give this three and a half A Night at the Opera albums out of five. The movie has good moments (including an amazing recreation of Live Aid that was the highlight of the film) and even give you the story of Queen. While I think Queen fans are going to want more, most people will probably be happy. It does deliver what it promises and does so fine. So I do recommend this anyway if you like Queen. The show must go on, so see it and see if it's worthy of singing "We are the Champions"