BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY Should Have Rocked Us More

QUEEN is one of the greatest rock bands of all time. I still have their albums on regular rotation. And most of the music loving modern world no doubt feels the same. So BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY is a movie the world wants, nay needs. It released this week around the world and is going as gangbusters as fat bottomed girls in a bicycle race. Kernel Blake reviews this music and aims for no puns, I had to ruin that in the intro because I want to break free haha. This entire review could have been puns dammit!

BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY is rated M and runs for 134mins. Enjoy Kernel Blake’s thoughts on the movie. Keep yourself alive…………..Salty.

 

Bohemian Rhapsody Movie image
Freddie Mercury (), Brian May (), Roger Taylor (), and John Deacon ()

 

BY :

Attempting to make a biopic about one of the greatest rock bands of all time and their enigmatic front man is a tricky proposition. Go too far one way and all you do is a fluff piece that showcases the music everyone knows and little else. Too far the other, you may delve into certain aspects that will turn fans of the band off. BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY tires to land somewhere in the middle and is mostly successful in telling the world the story of Queen and Freddie Mercury.

As a long-time fan of Queen, I have followed the development of BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY closely over the years and it hasn’t exactly been smooth sailing. Initially, Sacha Baron Cohen was set to star as Mercury in a ‘warts & all’ story detailing the more debauched side of Mercury’s off-stage persona. This, apparently, was kyboshed by certain band members who wanted the film to show the band and Freddie in a more favourable light.

Move forward a few years and BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY had a new director, (X-MEN APOCALYPSE), new script writer, Anthony McCarten (DARKEST HOUR) and a new Freddie in the form of MR ROBOT’S Rami Malek. Queen band members, Brian May and Roger Taylor remained on board as producers, while Singer was fired during production but remains the only credited director. So, what effect does that have on BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY as a film?

 

Bohemian Rhapsody Rami Malek image
Rami Malek

 

QUEEN – THE BEGINNING:

Starting in the early 1970s, BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY begins with Freddie Mercury, back then still going by his birth name Farroukh Bulsara, working as a baggage handler at London Heathrow airport. After a chance encounter with local pub band, Smile, who coincidentally just lost their lead singer, Freddie convinces remaining band members Brian May (Gwylim Lee) and Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy) to join forces and Queen is born.

With the addition of bassist, John Deacon (Joseph Mazzello, the kid from the original JURASSIC PARK!!), Queen start their meteoric rise to the top of the charts in a whirlwind sequence that takes them from small bars and clubs to massive sold out arena tours of the world. BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY spends little time establishing the band members or their creative style and just blasts them straight into the stratosphere, thankfully accompanied by some of their greatest hits.

With the success of Queen comes the money, the fame, and the ego. Although the band itself prides itself on being a family and sticking together, the confused sexuality of their flamboyant front-man leads Mercury down a path that will cause tension among the group. With his faithful wife, Mary (, APOSTLE) beginning to realise Freddie may not be the man she thought he was, Mercury engages in a life of parties, sexual exploration and substance abuse that begins to take its toll on the band.

 

Bohemian Rhapsody Movie image
Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek), Brian May (Gwilym Lee), Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy), and John Deacon (Joseph Mazzello)

 

The more scandalous parts of Mercury’s life are hinted at in BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY but not really explored. His AIDS diagnosis and other issues are run through quite quickly with the music being the main focus of the film. This isn’t usually a bad thing as the music that Queen are known for still gets the crowds going both on screen and in the theatre.

The main issues that will come up are with the artistic liberties the script takes to pump up the more emotional moments in the film. For those that don’t know the story behind the band and Freddie’s life, this won’t matter as you’ll enjoy a rather by-the-numbers musical biopic that delivers all the hits with some strong performances.

Those with a bit more knowledge of the band may raise an eyebrow or two with some moments that are included that alter the band’s timeline and some scenes that didn’t actually happen at all simply added for dramatic effect, which is disappointing. On the whole though, BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY delivers a fun and entertaining, albeit sugar coated, look at the legendary rock band. Any issues are forgotten about during the rousing 20-minute Live Aid concert that Queen performs at the end of the film, played in full here, with an incredibly shot and performed set that gave me goosebumps.

 

Bohemian Rhapsody Rami Malek image

 

QUEEN – THE BAND:

Storytelling issues aside, the real standout from BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY is Rami Malek. Although he fights a losing battle with his prosthetic teeth for the first half of the film, Rami Malek delivers a powerhouse performance. Funny, witty, troubled, emotional and powerful, he truly becomes Mercury with the bombastic Live Aid performance and the fact he belted the songs out while filming before having Freddie’s voice dubbed over, adds to the authenticity of the performance and lip synching.

The other band members of Queen each have their moments, with some genuinely funny lines and almost uncanny resemblances, especially with Lee as Brian May. The only real disappointments with the cast are Freddie’s love interest/manager Paul (Allen Leech, DOWNTON ABBEY) who plays a Yoko Ono type character, whose moustache twirling villainy isn’t really explained or explored. Also, inexplicably, appears under heavy makeup as a record producer who seems to be there just to add in a cringe worthy WAYNE’S WORLD reference.

 

Bohemian Rhapsody Live Aid image
Live Aid

 

ENCORE:

As I mentioned earlier, BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY straddles a fine line with the story it tells. For the most part it succeeds, with a middle section that can drag a little, it brings it home with a bang with an incredible last act that more than makes up for any flaws.

The film, especially the Live Aid sequence, buoyed by the stellar performance from Malek, will give Queen fans plenty to cheer about with BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY. It’s a relatively light, breezy telling of the Queen and Freddie Mercury story that doesn’t delve much deeper than surface level.

Not one Queen lyric pun was used in this entire review, I’m amazed. Is this the real life…?

 

 

 

YOUR REVIEWER:

Kernel Blake is a part-time beard bandit, philanthropist, industrialist….bicyclist…photographer, world traveller, movie lover, a man of few words who enjoys the finer things in life. Like reciting Snake Plissken quotes. And when all that fails, heads out to a racetrack to do skids. He can be found twatting @bcurrall80 and hipstergramming @bcurrall80

** All images courtesy of various sources on Google or direct from the distributor/publisher – credit has been given to photographers where known – images will be removed on request.