If you would to read our earlier review of Bohemian Rhapsody, click here.
Synopsis: Singer Freddie Mercury, guitarist Brian May, drummer Roger Taylor and bass guitarist John Deacon take the music world by storm when they form the rock ‘n’ roll band Queen in 1970. Hit songs become instant classics. When Mercury’s increasingly wild lifestyle starts to spiral out of control, Queen soon faces its greatest challenge yet – finding a way to keep the band together amid the success and excess. (20th Century Fox)
Starring: Rami Malek, Gwilym Lee, and Ben Hardy
Writer: Anthony McCarten
Director: Bryan Singer
Rating: PG-13 (Canada)
Running Time: 135mins
The production of Bohemian Rhapsody has been plagued by countless issues and it shows. These did not quite bode well as the film has also received mostly negative reviews from critics who have mostly criticized the film but have singled out Rami Malek’s performance as Freddie Mercury in what was essentially a biopic of the lead singer of Queen. Diehard fans of Mercury and Queen may find plenty to enjoy here but its incredibly generic, bordering on formulaic, structure will leave plenty of viewers feeling bored.
Ultimately, enjoyment of the film will rely on Malek’s believability as Mercury. As far as the two are concerned, Malek may not look like Mercury or sound like him but it’s not exactly his fault. However, what the film does to facilitate Malek’s transformation into Mercury only distracted from his performance rather than help it. The false teeth that were used to create Mercury’s overbite made it difficult to focus on dialog and Malek’s lip-syncing using a compilation of master tapes from Mercury himself as well as additional vocals from singer Marc Martel during the musical performances made it difficult to ever engage in them. While he may get some of Mercury’s mannerisms right, it felt too much like an actor playing the man rather than a faithful recreation.
The story that connected these performances could be considered generic at best and was more on the dull side. It doesn’t tackle the story with any amount of depth, only ever doing so on a surface level. You get the rise from obscurity followed by the fall and subsequent comeback, chronicling all the good and bad times as well as all the other familiar story beats along the way. Nothing about the story will come as a shock to anyone as it doesn’t bring anything new to the table or hits all of these beats nearly as well as they could have, especially in the middle. Although at no point did the film give us any reason to care about Mercury or any of his bandmates, guitarist Brian May (Lee), drummer Roger Taylor (Hardy), or bass guitarist John Deacon (Joseph Mazzello). In the case of the later three, they were more plot devices than anything else.
The story was ultimately leading to Queen’s infamous 1985 London Live Aid performance. In terms of the many performances, this was the best as the film recreates that moment rock and roll history (which you can compare with the original performance here). It is kind of ironic seeing that a moment that was full of life, attended by 72,000 people at Wembley Stadium, be so lifeless as the excessive CGI used to recreate this sequence felt empty and the CGI was distracting. Despite everything else, Malek’s performance as Mercury is still the best part of the film so it was a shame that the film around him could not rise to his level as it often felt like he was in a completely different film. He may not have been the best choice for Mercury but at the end of the day, he did his best with what he had which was arguably not much.
Overall, this was a derivative and incredibly dull and debatable biopic that clumsily goes from point A to point B while only ever touching the surface of what had the potential to be a great story. Rami Malek may not have been the best choice to play Freddie Mercury but he did his best with what little he had while the film did not do him any favors whatsoever and only distracted from his performance. With plenty of the music of Queen playing throughout, diehard fans should find plenty to enjoy, however, others will be left wanting more.