Well, it’s about damn time. I feel like I’ve been seeing the trailers for this movie all year and I was psyched from the start. Finally, now my excitement can shut up.
The story looks like it’s about Queen legend Freddie Mercury and a biopic about his life.
Here’s the cast. Starring, we have Rami Malek, known for PAPILLON (2018), and the upcoming THE VOYAGE OF DOCTOR DOLITTLE (2020). In support, we have Lucy Boynton (ORIENT EXPRESS  and SING STREET ), Aidan Gillen (Maze Runners DEATH CURE  and SCORCH TRIALS , THE LOVERS , SING STREET, and the upcoming ROSE PLAYS JULIE ), Joseph Mazzello (G.I. JOE: RETALIATION , JURASSIC PARK  and THE LOST WORLD ), Ben Hardy (ONLY THE BRAVE , X-MEN: APOCALYPSE , and the upcoming 6 UNDERGROUND ), and Mike Myers (AUSTIN POWERS  and WAYNE’S WORLD ).
Now for the crew. Directing, we have Bryan Singer, known for X-MEN (2000), X2 (2003), DAYS OF FUTURE PAST (2014), APOCALYPSE, and the upcoming BROADWAY 4D (2018). Penning the screenplay is Anthony McCarten, known for DARKEST HOUR (2017), and the upcoming THE POPE (2018). The cinematographer is Newton Thomas Sigel, known for MARSHALL (2017) and X-MEN: APOCALYPSE. Finally, the editor is John Ottman, known for THE NICE GUYS (2016).
Overall, I’m so stoked. I know critics haven’t been too kind, but this movie sits at a comfortable 8.4/10 on IMDb (as of 11/6/2018), so I’m thinking this is going to be great anyway. Whatever, critics. Y’all be hatin’.
This is my honest opinion of: BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY
Set between 1970 and 1985. Freddie Mercury (Rami Malik) has just been accepted into a band as their new lead singer and a year later, make their first ever album with experimental sounds. Freddie enjoys the music as well as his accompanying girlfriend (Lucy Boynton) and the trails and tribulations when Queen hit it big.
Hmph… okay, so let’s get some things out of the way. This is a good movie. Downright great. But I’m going to slightly play devil’s advocate and say that as a movie about Freddie Mercury or Queen, it falls short. But we’ll get to that later. Let’s just focus on the movie AS A MOVIE.
Please tell me I’m not the only one who fell in love with the 20th Century logo’s opening rock remix. I think it’s official, Fox has to open all of their movies with that rock theme.
As previously stated, Malek knocks it out of the park. The man has such an infectious energy and likability to him that every time he’s on screen, he puts a smile on your face, or makes you laugh. One of my favorite moments in the movie is during that scene when he convinces the band of his singing talent and he walks off saying, “I’ll consider your offer,” having not been formally offered… er, an offer. Everything from Malek’s look and movements on stage, everything looks like it encapsulates Freddie to a tee. From the more somber and heartfelt moments with Mary, to the flamboyance up on stage, it’s hard not to have a smile when the camera is on him. The movie also doesn’t skimp out on how mean-spirited he can get. Not that I’ve ever (really) been in a band before, but one would think that when you spend as much time as Queen’s bandmates have spent together, that would form a bond of friendship, and even family. At first, I thought it was a little too mean to consider only Mary to be his friend, as opposed to his bandmates, but as it turns out, this seems to be the actual case. Freddie went on and on about how much she was his only friend. Not his band, not Jim Hutton (Aatrom McCusker), just Mary. Well… even legends can be self-absorbed, I guess. Regardless, Malek is absolutely wonderful. Calling it, he absolutely deserves an Oscar nom.
In fact, everyone knocks it out of the park. The bandmates seem to have a legit connection with each other and have a very roommate/sibling relationship, full of drama and laughs. And by heavenly Jesus, Boynton needs to be more famous than she is. She’s positively angelic and fabulous, being the other half of the heart of this movie, right there with Malek.
I won’t necessarily count this against the movie, but I do find Mike Myers’ small role as the fictional Ray Foster to be a little forced, at least in terms of his WAYNE’S WORLD reference of teenagers banging their heads to Bohemian Rhapsody in their cars. I’m sure most people found this humorous, and I can see how it would be impossible not to do it in a movie about Queen, but… meh, a little too easy for my taste.
There is one subjective problem that I have, and that’s how the romance between Freddie and Jim starts up. I mean, seriously, Freddie pinches Jim’s ass, resulting in the two becoming lovers. Yes, because after a dose of sexual harassment, the obvious next step is to date. I have no idea who thought this would be a cute scene, but if this was a man doing that to a woman, people would be up in arms against this man, no matter who he was. It’s not cute, it’s not funny, and honestly, it’s kind of uncomfortable. I won’t say this ruins the movie in any way, as Freddie is at a particular emotional low point in this part of the story, and he is quick to apologize to Jim, but it’s still not cool to do that, no matter who you are.
But now it’s time to earn some battle scars and take the side of certain critics. I won’t count this as a negative of the film itself, but rather make a small editorial.
Let’s be fair. Biopics are supposed to be informative. They’re supposed to be dramatized versions of the truth. In theory, if someone wanted to know about Queen in movie form, they should be able to watch BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY and essentially get what they’d read from a book or what they’d see in a documentary. If a movie can’t deliver that, then it’s likely just a cash-grab for popularity points. Slap on “Queen” and you’ve got an instant money-maker. Brilliant exploitation, if you think about it. If that’s what someone is going for and is easily triggered by that, then I’d be lying if I said I didn’t understand.
I won’t pretend to be an expert on either Queen or Freddie Mercury, but I will say that I’ve spent a fair amount of time going through articles that explain what the movie got wrong about Freddie’s personal life. Like, Freddie didn’t meet the band of Smile out the back of a club one random evening. He had been friends with the band for years and even lived with a couple of them for a time before he joined up and eventually create Queen. Freddie didn’t meet Mary the same night he joined up with the band. In fact, one of the other guys dated her first before Freddie moved in on her. Thankfully, Freddie and Mary’s relationship was accurately portrayed in the film. There was no Ray Foster (Mike Myers), Jim Hutton was a hair dresser, not a waiter working for Freddie, the band never had an embittered break-up, among other inaccuracies.
Do you see what’s going on? Most of the inaccuracies are… strange. Like, they didn’t need to be inaccurate. There’s no narrative reason to not make Freddie and the guys friends when the movie opens. The choices made here do not make Freddie’s story more interesting. In fact, I think the truth is more interesting. Like, why didn’t the guys in Smile let Freddie join them? I know they already had a lead singer at the time, but still. I found that time he spent being patient to be a more interesting story than just going to the back parking lot to shoehorn his way in. It’s like no one making this movie had any faith that the truth would be interesting in of itself, rather than making shit up. And that made-up shit isn’t very good either. I mean, seriously, a band breaking up over the frontman signing a solo deal behind the band’s back? JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS did that! Not that this trope was invented by that crap-tastic movie, but I JUST MADE A COMPARISON BETWEEN JEM AND THE HOLOGRAMS AND FREDDIE MOTHER FUCKING MERCURY!!! Please tell me I’m not the only one who sees what’s wrong here! While I’m sure there’s plenty of documentaries and books about Freddie that can shine a light on the facts, here are a couple of articles that I read, as well as a Youtube video by Screen Rant, that will highlight a few of the discrepancies:
If you don’t care about Freddie Mercury and therefore don’t care to do your research into who the man really was, then that’s obviously your prerogative. If all you wanted to see was Rami Malek do a spot-on Freddie impression, then you’re in for a grand ride. I am not contesting that. However, if that’s all you wanted, then that’s all you get. A movie about a Freddie impersonator, not Freddie himself. For those that prefer a movie to respect Mercury, as a person, and wanted to see the legend done justice on the big screen, who know better than to think of this “as a movie” and more like the capturing a man’s life and showing respect to him, then it’s hard to argue with those who are less than thrilled about it. I can’t claim to know if the studios were pressuring for changes in the facts, or if the actual band members of Queen, who were creative consultants, are to blame for the changes, but there shouldn’t be much of a difference between how documentaries are made, versus feature films. Both should be factual when dealing with factual people and showing them respect. Nothing should be changed to make the movie “more interesting” or “more dramatic” because the story AS IS should be interesting enough.
Overall, as a movie, it’s great. It’s fun, blends comedy and drama perfectly, is moving, and very well made. I understand the popularity among fans, and am more or less on their side. On that note, this movie is a 5/5. It’s a must see. However, make no mistake, this is not an accurate representation of the real legend. If you don’t mind, then hold on to that love of this movie. But don’t attack those who would have wanted to see accuracy, to actually see Freddie Mercury, not a damn good impression of him. But as a movie, highly recommended.
My honest rating for BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY: 5/5
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