‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ follows the iconic rock band Queen and covers the birth of the group, the evolution of Freddie Mercury into a global star, and the years leading up to their legendary performance at Wembley Stadium during Live Aid in 1985. A set many still consider to be the greatest rock ‘n’ roll performance of all-time.
Now admittedly I did not grow up a huge fan of Queen. I certainly liked their music. It always pumped me up as intended during sporting events, and their music is still the first thing that comes to mind when talking about the ‘Wayne’s World’ feature film. But I didn’t follow them closely primarily because they were just before my time and rock ’n’ roll was never my music of choice. I knew of the group. I knew the Cliff Note details about their rise to stardom, and I can remember seeing many clips of Mercury onstage. So as an outsider to the fandom of this group I guess you could say, I was very interested in learning more about their path of fame in this film. In addition to learning more about Freddie Mercury who is considered among many as a music icon.
Let’s talk about the positives of this biopic. First and foremost, the transformation and overall performance of Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury. I felt he completely disappeared inside this role and he embodied the persona as well as anyone could have. Malek effectively captured the uneasiness of Freddie’s personality off-stage early on. And watching his evolution to self-indulgence, and arrogant confidence was compelling because it came across very naturally through Malek.
Mercury seemed very much like a person who was most comfortable onstage, and it was visible in the performance of Malek. You can see the switch flip when the microphone was in his hands and I appreciated that attention to detail. There were many layers of growth, and uncertainty that Mercury went through and took on in his own ways, and I felt Malek showcased all the emotional beats of the character with charisma, and heartfelt emotion.
This film 100% relied on Malek to deliver and he without question did with a breakthrough performance that should be Oscar-winning. The rest of the cast was all more than serviceable for the needs of their roles. Although, other than Lucy Boynton who had a great chemistry with Malek, none really stood out with their portrayals. I enjoyed the smaller performance from Mike Myers but in comparison to what Malek accomplished, no one was able to touch his spot-light.
Another strong positive to this film was the incorporation of the band’s music into the fabric of the story. I couldn’t tell you about the accuracy of the time-line. But I can say as an outsider, this biopic was heavily reliant on the music to deliver the rise of intensity in many scenes and it did so effectively. The production design was detailed and did a great job of pulling the viewer into the time-period. It was complemented with some great visuals which created many immersive concert sequences that showcase the detail in the on-stage choreography. The camerawork also captured the growth of the band onstage through many sequences as their venues grew. This did a great job of building up excitement to their historic Live Aid performance which was beautifully orchestrated overall.
The run-time was just under two-hours and fifteen-minutes and I will admit it was an enjoyable time that did progress rather quickly. But despite plugging in some small pieces of information, I don’t feel this was the in-depth biopic I had hoped for. As a casual fan of the group I didn’t walk out of the theater with much more knowledge of them, then I had going in. It felt at times like a story that was telling me what it wanted me to know rather than telling the story as it happened. The progression of the plot-line was also very swift at times and some relationship dynamics had large gaps in development.
A seed would be planted in one scene, then the next time it was visited it was a full-grown tree to be taken at face value. Missing all the substance and growth in between. The script dipped into many subjects but to me never fully dove in and explored them like it could have. I was entertained while watching but routinely felt like I wanted more information to fill in some large holes. The band members themselves are all still mostly a mystery. I didn’t learn anything about them individually despite them having a good amount of screen-time. During most of their scenes they served as cardboard characters to deliver superficial dialogue. They had their small moments to convey some of their personality traits, but none were developed enough given the chances they had throughout the run-time.
But as it was. As watered down as it may have felt at times, I still thoroughly enjoyed it as a celebration of the band and their music. It was also a celebration of Freddie Mercury who had a vibrant personality that shined so bright it was only matched by his singing voice. This biopic at times captured his unorthodox approach to making music as well as his mindset which was something I wished it had spent more time on. The performance of Malek alone however is worth the price of admission. He put in the effort to make this role viable, and I think he will be seeing good fortune come award season. The film itself felt a little fluffy in some sections as it seemed more reliant on generating nostalgia for the music than exploring the life of the band, but it was still a great time and a worthy theater experience.
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