Thursday, November 8, 2018

Bohemian Rhapsody - Movie Review

The Movie - Bohemian Rhapsody

The Director: Bryan Singer

The Cast: Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy, Joseph Mazzello, Aiden Gillan, Allen Leech, Tom Hollander, Mike Myers, Aaron McCusker, Meneka Das, Ace Bhatti, Priya Blackburn, Dermot Murphy

The Story: A chronicle of the years leading up to Queen's legendary appearance at the Live Aid (1985) concert.

The Review:
If you don't know Queen's music then you have been living on another planet for the last 40 years at least as they are king's of the arena anthem and masters of the rock opera. Songs like We Will Rock You, Another One Bites the Dust, and Bohemian Rhapsody have been staples of rock music since their release and front man Freddy Mercury and his outrageous personality captured the attention of nearly the entire world. While Bryan Singer is responsible for directing most of the film, Dexter Fletcher was brought in to finish the project after Singer left citing creative differences.

Speaking of creative differences, Sacha Baron Cohen was originally tabbed to play Mr. Mercury although he also left the project for the same reason way back in 2013. Cohen has stated his version would have been much more outlandish than the finished film that was eventually released. The movie, as completed, was actually a lot of fun to watch with a lot of the focus being on recreating the performances. Going in, I knew nothing about the members of the band other than they made some of the most amazing rock and roll songs ever produced and are also responsible for one of the best movie theme songs ever in Flash Gordon. Sadly, this is never mentioned or touched on in the movie.

The story centers on Freddy Mercury and his rise to fame after attaching himself to the band and taking control of their career path. This is where the film gets a little muddled in its story telling as a lot of Mercury's more controversial moments are touched on but never really fleshed out because the rest of the band is also there and can't be left out. I suppose, like any good story, this one could have warranted a trilogy of films to really get into a lot of the juicy stuff but basically this movie tells how the band got together, their rise to fame, Freddy being Freddy, the band breaking up, and then ultimately reuniting for their legendary Live Aid performance.

Rami Malek, who you may recognize if you have ever watched the Mr. Robot TV show, was tasked with bringing one of rock and roll's most iconic stars back to life which, of course would be no easy task. A lot of really smart people helped him with getting every aspect of who the man was exactly right and there was even a ton of work getting the vocals as accurate as possible as well. The performances you see in the movie are actually Malek singing but Mercury's voice was also mixed in as well as additional vocals recorded by Canadian singer Marc Martel who sounds eerily like Freddy himself. The combination of the three mixed together allowed for a very accurate portrayal which is always a concern for movies like this. You want it to be just right.

Another standout in the movie is Lucy Boynton who plays Mary Austin, Freddy's first love, wife, and eventual steadfast friend. She has a lot to work with in the film as her character is always on the receiving end of Mercury's wild personality for better or worse and she aces every moment of screen time that she gets. Aiden Gillen of Game of Thrones fame also puts in some good work as John Reid who was the band's manager for a few years. It was also really cool to see Mike Myers as EMI executive Ray Foster, he has a brilliant bit of dialog that calls back to a classic scene from Wayne's World which he of course starred in as the title character. When you see the movie, you'll know exactly what I mean.

The Verdict:
Bohemian Rhapsody is a good movie that will have you singing along to all the hits and feeling all the emotions. Seeing the performances recreated is a real treat and hearing the music blasting out of powerhouse theater speakers is by itself worth the price of admission. Aside from some missed opportunities at really digging into the meat of who Freddy Mercury was behind the scenes, it is at least a good entry point for people who want to know more.

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