Review: BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY

By Mark Saldana 

Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

After director Bryan Singer’s firing from this project went public, it seemed as if the future of this film was in jeopardy.  A lot of the movie had already been filmed, but producers had to act quickly if they wanted to see it completed.  Thankfully, actor/director Dexter Fletcher stepped in to finish the work, and despite all of the production drama, Bohemian Rhapsody is now in theaters.  Now much has alteady been said about the behind the scenes troubles, but now it is time to discuss the completed film.

As a fan of the rock band Queen and of Freddy Mercury as a singer and front man, I pretty got everything I wanted in a film about these talented artists.  As a critic, I cannot say that this is a top tier musician/artist biopic, but it is still a highly enjoyable one.  Singer and Fletcher utilize the music and some of the personal stories of the band’s members to offer audiences a very loving tribute to a remarkable rock group.  This unique band uncompromisingly played by their own rules and earned themselves a huge following in the process.  The movie is a lovely celebration of Queen and Freddie Mercury, but it also acknowledges the tragedy that occurred when the world lost the band’s beloved lead singer.

During the 1970s, the band Queen emerges and takes the world by storm. They’re brash, flamboyant and tremendously gifted. Their front man, Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek), has the voice of a rock god and commands the stage as such. Their music is heavy, melodic, operatic and beautiful.  Behind the scenes, the band not only faces opposition from record executives who don’t  know how to sell them at first, they also often butt heads internally.  Mercury, himself, has some personal issues which also add to the drama backstage. Still, despite the problems and trappings of success, the band eventually becomes legendary and still have their passionate fans to this day.

Written by Anthony McCarten and Peter Morgan, Bohemian Rhapsody is held back from excellence by its rather safe approach.  Though it is exciting, poignant and quite enjoyable, not much about the story sets it apart from other music biopics.  I do realize that Freddie Mercury probably, in a lot of ways, became a rock n roll cliche. Still, I feel that perhaps a slightly more insightful look at Mercury’s personal life could have turned a great biopic into an amazing one.

I will acknowledge that the movie is wonderfully put together from an aesthetic standpoint.  The cinematography and editing are exceptional. The directors and their crew create a beautiful stage for the actors to shine.  This is especially evident in the concert sequences, particularly in the reenactment of Queen’s Live Aid performance.  This sequence is very well executed and looks quite good. The filmmakers and actors should be pleased with this joyous and exciting moment in the film.

As far as the cast is concerned, the choices for the band musicians are spot on.  Gwilym Lee (Brian May), Ben Hardy (Roger Taylor) and Joseph Mazzello (John Deacon) look almost exactly like their real life counterparts and act well enough to pull off their characters. However, this show belongs to Rami Malek who perfectly embodies the role of Freddie Mercury.  Malek is truly exceptional in both the concert scenes and during the more personal behind-the-scenes moments.  Though he doesn’t look exactly like the real Mercury, his transcendent performance makes one believe he is Mercury.

And it is the number one reason why I must highly recommend this movie. The production value is another bonus and these two things help this movie rise above its standard writing.  Some people might argue that Freddie Mercury and Queen deserve better, but I argue that this movie will give the fans much joy and excitement.  That is something that the real Queen always strived to offer them.

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