The magic of Queen was their uniqueness. That ability to consistently produce songs and perform in a way that blew away everyone’s expectations and left us wanting more. Bohemian Rhapsody had moments where the film truly embodied Queen and their mercurial front man, but those moments were too rare to make this film anything more than underwhelming. This one bites the dust.
The movie starts out incredibly strong with Freddie finding his bandmates in the basement pub of a rundown building and flashing those vocals that would eventually make him famous. Unfortunately, the movie can only keep this up for about the first 30 minutes before the issues in production really start to show, the main issue being director Bryan Singer walking off set.
Despite how I feel about the movie overall, there is no question that the acting was superb. Rami Malik becomes Freddie Mercury and delivers a level of bravado and swagger that only Freddie himself could match. From the opening moments when Malik walks into his family’s living room with the hair and fashion sense of a rockstar, you can see how much he immersed himself in the role while paying respect to the late singer. In addition to Malik, the performances by the other members of Queen were good enough to make me wish they had more screen time to flesh out more characters than just Mercury.
As Bohemian Rhapsody went on, I became more and more impressed at how the actors were able to carry a movie that was so all over the place. Some scenes would have beautiful direction that provided depth and realism to the film while others looked like they didn’t even bother to disguise they were shooting on a set. This problem rearing its ugly head at the worst possible time, The Live Aid performance in 1985. This iconic Queen moment could’ve been the crown jewel of this movie, but the green screen looked more like a video game rendering than Wembley Arena and the little crowd that they did show looked closer to 20 people instead of 72,000.
Perhaps the most frustrating part of this movie isn’t any particular scene or even the terrible cameo by Mike Myers, it’s the scenes where you see this could’ve been a great movie. A prime example is when the band went to work on their second album and locked themselves in a little English country house and decided to get experimental. This entire sequence was beautifully shot, well-acted, and peeled back the curtain on characters that are larger than life but the film just couldn’t keep that momentum going. The biopic was ultimately lost to uneven production and subplots that only filled the running time.
With just a few small changes, this film is an award contender. It has moments and performances powerful enough for Oscar buzz but they get lost in the mix. Those award winning moments average out with the bad scenes to make a film that is painfully mediocre rather than the Killer Queen movie we all deserved. Maybe I just expected too much out of this film thinking that the entire movie could be as good as the trailers were. Either way, I left the theater knowing it could’ve been better and wishing it was.
Bohemian Rhapsody hits theaters November 2nd!
Bohemian Rhapsody – A chronicle of the years leading up to Queen’s legendary appearance at the Live Aid (1985) concert.