Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) Movie Review
*Spoiler Alert if you have never read anything about Freddie Mercury*
I just want to make things clear before I get into my review that I like the band Queen, I like Freddie Mercury's work, and I thought that this movie was fine. But that's just it, it's just fine and doesn't go any further than just being 'okay'. The reason I am saying this from the start is because I'm probably going to be speaking about mostly the negatives. I don't believe that this is necessarily a bad film, I just think it has a lot of squandered potential.
Now onto the bashing...just a joke...sort of.
Bohemian Rhapsody is the story about Freddie Mercury and his band Queen. Starting out at the when the band gets together through Freddie Mercury's sexual exploration and drug years, to the bitter end of the legend Mercury himself. And that is basically it, which is kind of my problem with the film. It is pretty much a 'bullet point' biopic. What I mean by that is that the story seems to be nothing more than making sure to hit on all of the major historical points for this band and Freddie's life. That's it. There's no overarching story line really, nor much focus on character depth or chemistry.
The plot is simply -
Step 1: Band meets and gets together.
Step 2: Band writes first hit .
Step 3: Band records first album.
Step 4: Freddie gets married.
Step 5: Queen music tour montage.
Step 6: Freddie starts figuring out he's gay.
Step 7: Queen music tour montage.
Step 8: Queen fights and writes a new hit song.
Step 9: Queen music tour montage.
Step 10: Queen fights and writes Bohemian Rhapsody.
Step 11: Queen music tour montage.
Step 12: Freddie realizes he's gay and he breaks up with his wife.
Step 13: Queen music tour montage.
Step 14: Queen breaks up.
Step 15: Freddie becomes self-destructive with sex and drugs.
Step 16: Queen gets back together.
Step 17: Queen performs on stage for the last 20 minutes of screen time.
Now this is decent material to work with in a script, but without enough character development or a story that feels like it truly links everything together it just comes across as 'things just happening'. Now, I want to emphasize again that I don't think that this is bad, but it does make the film feel generic. However, in my opinion, the story of Freddie Mercury and Queen should really be anything except generic.
To get into character, there's no specific character that's technically bad but I feel like I don't really get good enough insight into who these people really are. Freddie Mercury is eccentric, gay, and is good at performing...that's all I got out of a nearly two and a half hour movie. His wife was...definitely a woman. The band mates of Queen...could have been doctors and engineers. Paul is...evil. Yeah, I'm trying and I'm drawing a blank for everyone. Which is probably one of the biggest sins that a biopic can commit, not giving your audience enough understanding of your characters who actually exist.
Anyways, if I want to watch a recent biopic about a band that also dealt with a character that contracts AIDs, I would rather go with "Straight Outta Compton". Or another biopic that handled the character arc of discovering one's sexuality in the 1970s and 1980s, "Battle of the Sexes" was also another film that did a better job with those themes. "Bohemian Rhapsody" kind of fumbles where those other two found a good balance of story, character and hitting all of the bullet points too.
To get into the positives though, this is a very stylish film. The cinematography and editing is really solid, I mean it. It is superbly gorgeous, through and through. Probably one of the best looking films I've seen all year. The acting on everyone's part was also all very good, especially from Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury who did a fantastic job. He was honestly a major reason that the movie held my interest for as long as it did. Running at about two hours and fifteen minutes, without Malek's performance, I would have been more irritated by the film and its faults. Towards the beginning of the film, I will admit that I did find the fake teeth that they put in his mouth to be distracting and somewhat silly. I know that Mercury's teeth were also very prominent, but they at least seem more natural with his face while with Malek it looks like his mouth is just fighting against the prosthetic rather than working with it. After a while though I got used to it, plus it looked slightly more natural once it got to Freddie's mustache years. And my final positive would be the final act, it's probably the best part of the film. I think the reason for that is because it finally feels like it has focus and the music segments are more emotionally ramped up.
Overall, I'd say that the film is okay even with all its problems. I'd say that if you catch this on television or Netflix then this will be perfectly fine where you can occasionally pause to take a break or have parts play in the background. Especially since I think that fifteen minutes or so probably could have been cut from the movie to make it a bit tighter, so if the movie loses your attention for a few minutes here and there I don't think it'll be so bad at home. It's a beautifully shot film, edited well, acted at the best of everyone's capabilities; it just lacks in story and character.
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© 2018 John Plocar