The film Bohemian Rhapsody tells the life story of English rock band, Queen. Led by singer Freddie Mercury, the band was a hit-maker in the 70s and 80s rock scene, and continues to be a favorite band for many, young and old. With 23 million views on the movie’s official trailer, this movie was promoted as the definitive Queen biopic. As hyped as this movie was, it really only had two things that made it worth the watch. The first, the music, was going to draw crowds regardless of how good the film was. The second was the most surprising though, and that was the main actor, Rami Malek’s performance as the legendary Freddie Mercury.
Now I know Rami Malek as the Pharaoh from the Night at the Museum films, so he really took me to surprise in this film. His portrayal of Mercury is accurate to a tee. I would even go as far to say that there are multiple scenes where I can’t tell if it’s actually footage of Mercury or Malek. His emotion in scenes with the band and his manager Paul was very compelling. Malek seemed invested in the project and like he cared. This went a long way for helping with the personality of the movie. Malek’s final scene centering around the Live Aid concert at Wembley Stadium may be one of the most spectacular scenes I’ve seen in a movie in a while. The performance is definitely Oscar-worthy and it’s easily the highest point in the film.
The other positive of this movie was the great music, but I knew I would love it going in. I did enjoy some of the scenes that gave background to the creation of the songs, which added meaning. I also enjoyed the cameo by Mike Myers where he says something about a certain song never being sung in a car full of teens (alluding to his classic comedy film Wayne’s World, where him and his friends scream along to the Bohemian Rhapsody.) Even though I didn’t realize it was him until the credits, I appreciated the subtle detail.
I had one major gripe with this movie. Throughout the whole movie, the pacing just seemed out of whack. One prime example is in the first act. The band’s van breaks down so they think about selling it to buy time to record in a studio. The scene, however, quickly cuts from them stuck on the side of the road to them singing in a recording booth. There’s also a few scenes pertaining to the band’s dynamic before the band’s famous Live Aid concert that just didn’t flow.
Another issue I had was how watered-down the band’s story felt at some points. Nothing really felt serious until around the end of the second act. The shenanigans that Mercury sometimes pulled, like the time he sang We Will Rock You for an encore while riding on Darth Vader’s shoulders, were not included in the film. I feel like the filmmakers might have tried to allude to his craziness during a party scene but failed to truly portray how wild Mercury was.
While Bohemian Rhapsody is not a bad film, it’s not an especially great one either. Rami Malek’s performance as the Queen frontman, Freddie Mercury, and the band’s legendary music are really the only saving graces for the film. The pacing feels off for a large majority of the film except for the second act and the end of the third act. I find that the positives slightly outweigh the negatives for this movie. I would try to catch this movie while it’s in theaters, but it might be worth waiting until it ends up on Netflix to watch.
3 out of 5 Stars