Movie Review: “Bohemian Rhapsody”
Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek) has been given the gifts of a great voice, a great vocal range, and a natural talent for writing music. Unfortunately, these are not gifts that his father appreciates. His father knows Freddie will never amount to anything if he indulges his musical dream, but Freddie is not one to follow his father’s rules. Instead, he is determined to fulfill his dream, with or without his father’s approval.
Freddie needs a band and, at a nearby college, he finds a band that needs a lead singer. They are immediately impressed with one another, and thus, Queen is born. However, despite their immense talent and unique style, their road to fame and glory will not be an easy one. Their new lifestyle is hard on the group, and Freddie discovers something about himself that will forever change the way the band is viewed. All they can do is make and perform music like only they can. Who knows? They just might become one of the most legendary bands of all time along the way.
The Pros & Cons
Rami Malek (+10pts)
Paul & Mary (-5pts)
Freddie Mercury (+10pts)
John, Jim, and Ray (-3pts)
The Music (+8pts)
Feels Long (-3pts)
Pro: Rami Malek (+10pts)
Rami Malek absolutely transforms into Freddie Mercury in this movie. It is one thing to play Freddie and give a great dramatic performance, but it is an entirely other thing to become the legend. Now, to my knowledge, Rami Malek was not singing in this movie. As good as the man might be able to sing, Freddie Mercury had one of the most iconic voices in recent history. If I was making the movie, and using audio recordings of Freddie Mercury was an option, I would definitely use them.
Singing aside, Rami Malek was incredible in this movie. In the beginning, there was a section where it felt like he was doing a cheap impression of the Freddie, but that quickly changed. After a few scenes, I stopped seeing the actor and only saw the icon. He was able to capture the facial expressions, the maneurisms, and the overall vibe of the legendary singer. Transforming into a role is no small feat, and transforming into such a recognizable figure (as Rami Malek was able to do so effectively) is even more impressive.
Con: Paul & Mary (-5pts)
I had absolutely no issues with Mary, or Lucy Boynton’s portrayal of her. I did however have a problem with the character of Paul and how he was viewed in comparison to how Mary was viewed. If you know who Freddie Mercury was, then you most likely know about his sexuality. I expected that his sexuality would play a significant part in this story, but the whole thing kind of rubbed me the wrong way (a bit).
Mary was portrayed as the love of Freddie’s life, while Paul was definitely the antagonist of this story. We never really see what Freddie saw in Paul, he is just a one-dimensional antagonist. The unfortunate side effect of this, is that we have no choice but to root against Freddie‘s homosexuality because we never really see any redeeming qualities about Paul. The only other love interest (until the end of the movie) is Mary, so by depicting Paul as a one-dimensional antagonist, the filmmakers inadvertently forced us into rooting against Freddie‘s homosexuality all together. We end up wanting to see things work out with him and Mary, because she was the only other major love interest in this story. This just felt like the wrong way to portray this man’s sexuality.
Pro: Freddie Mercury (+10pts)
Bohemian Rhapsody is about Queen, to an extent, but this is really Freddie Mercury’s story. Gifted with an incredible musical talent, and the ability to command a crowd like no other, the man rose to become one of the greatest musical icons in history. Thus, when rumors spread about his sexuality, his name was spoken, and thrown on every newspaper, the world over. Freddie Mercury had to have a perspective on fame unlike any other, which is what made this story so interesting to me.
At a time when homosexuality was at its most scandalous, this man was at the top of the musical industry. Every one knew his name, but he was still extremely isolated. He was a legend with a fascinating story, which was very compelling to see told. He had a one-of-a-kind life, which made him a perfect candidate for a biopic, and made this an interesting movie from start to finish.
Con: John, Jim, and Ray (-3pts)
Each of these characters served somewhat of a purpose in this story, but none of them were significant purposes. Ray (Mike Myers) is a music producer, John (Aidan Gillen) is the band's manager, and I honestly do not remember what role Jim (Tom Hollander) had in the first part of the movie. None of these characters ended up being significant characters, and two of them could have (and in my opinion should have) been cut from this movie. If they were real people in Queen's story, that is fine, but they were not necessary in this movie.
This is first and foremost a movie, so if there are too many unnecessary characters that were taking screen time away from the important characters, then some of those characters should have been cut to better serve the story. The side effect of having all three of these characters was that I walked out of the movie feeling like I did not learn anything about Freddie Mercury's band mates. The other members of Queen did not get much development in this story. Two of the characters (between John, Jim and Ray) simply should have been cut, in order to give the members of Queen more focus.
Pro: The Music (+8pts)
I will keep this brief, but the filmmakers had the benefit of using an absolutely iconic list of songs for this movie. As good as the story was, and as good as the performances were, the movie was made so much better by being set to these amazing songs. Some of the songs used were: "We Will Rock You", "We Are the Champions", "Another One Bites the Dust", and obviously "Bohemian Rhapsody" (just to name a few). These are great, catchy songs that will get audiences incredibly invested in the movie. It is a good movie without the music. With the music, this movie becomes something special.
Con: Feels Long (-3pts)
As is the case with too many biopics, this movie ends up feeling pretty long. Is it still entertaining? Yes, but it felt much longer than it was. There was a point in this movie where it felt like it had already been two hours but, when I checked the time, I saw that it had only been about fifty minutes. This happens with a lot of biopics because they try to tell a story about the lives of iconic people or groups. The fact that this movie spans over a good portion of Freddie's life, makes this movie feel a lot longer than it was. I was still entertained, but I did find myself checking the time during a few lulls in the story.
Grade: A- (92pts)
Bohemian Rhapsody was a strong movie. It has a few problems, such as a cluttered cast and how Freddie’s sexuality was handled, but they were minor issues that the film was able to mostly overcome. The movie had too many side characters, which I think took away from time that should have been spent learning more about Freddie’s band mates. I also got the impression that Freddie's homosexuality was somewhat vilified, by making Paul a very one-dimensional antagonist. However, as mentioned before, the film was able to overcome these issues.
Rami Malek delivered a fantastic performance that made me feel like I was actually watching Freddie Mercury. Freddie Mercury’s story was also a very interesting one and, while I am sure the movie was far from one hundred percent historically accurate, I think the filmmakers delivered a compelling story about this legend. On top of all of that, the movie had the benefit of having a soundtrack that was comprised of Queen’s greatest hits, which will keep audiences engaged and excited. It is not a perfect movie, but I had a really good time watching it.