Bohemian Rhapsody (2018) movie review
Bohemian Rhapsody follows the story of British rock band Queen and their bizarre lead singer Freddie Mercury, the driving creative mind responsible bringing Queen up to one of the most loved bands in history. The (mostly) Bryan Singer directed drama looks at Mercury’s controversial life and the band around the time of their more famous works, including the titular Bohemian Rhapsody. I got to see Bohemian Rhapsody last night, and it overall I would say it landed somewhere between my high expectations and the very mixed critic reviews. In many ways, it absolutely deserves some negative reception, and in many ways it is a great movie! It just depends what you want from your Queen biopic.
If you go into Bohemian Rhapsody wanting to justify your love of Queen with over two hours of music, lively characters, and a perfectly balanced humor and drama, you will like it overall. There does seem like a lack of focus on music early on, but by the final act, the film more than makes up for it. While Freddie has more focus than Brian, Roger, and Paul, the film manages to keep all four very interesting and developed, instead of just being side-characters to Freddie’s story and nothing more. The humor and drama are also great, with the drama hitting its beats very well. The humor was strong overall, but didn’t often have enough time to breath. You can see a clear difference in the pacing in all three acts, and that actually affects every aspect of this movie but one.
Rami freaking Malek, also known as that guy from Mr. Robot (2015-) or Ahkmenrah from the Night at the Museum film (2006-2014), is absolutely fantastic as Freddie Mercury. The film features overall strong performances, but Malek carries this film and all of its problems on his back and absolutely deserves an Oscar nomination. He carries the depth and personality of the character so well that there are times I just forgot it was an actor. The rest of the film’s quality is fairly strong too, featuring fittingly stylish cinematography, shot composition, and editing. Unfortunately the substance of the film itself does not hold up to the style it is presented in.
Almost every problem I have with Bohemian Rhapsody is a result of pacing and editing. It honestly reminded me of Rogue One (2016), where the first act feels choppy and rushed, the second settles down but feels inconsistent, and the third act it downright perfect. Across all three, the editing choices are perfectly odd, but unfortunately very erratic, as does the uses of music, and even the storytelling. There are parts early on that feel incredibly rushed, almost as if the film were longer and they did not want to trust a 2-hour, 30 minute Queen film. Oddly enough, that seems fitting for Queen… Or maybe it’s that the director disappeared from set near the end of shooting, and there is a little patchwork here. I think it shows, and honestly this film really suffers early on from a total lack of focus.
All that being said, I thought Rogue One and Bohemian Rhapsody both redeemed themselves by the end by pulling out all the stops in a near-perfect finale. So I would say if you want a solid Queen film that is fun, compelling, and features some fantastically entertaining music, you will probably like it! On top of that, the layer of quality highlighted by a career best from Rami Malek doesn’t hurt. Honestly though, if you don’t care about Queen and you want a fantastic biopic about a band, there are better movies out there, and A Star Is Born is playing right now. (I know it’s not a biopic, but dang it’s a good movie.) I happen to really like Queen though, so the combination of performance and music do push me towards liking this movie a little more than it deserves. Honestly, it’s not amazing, but I’d see it again. 7/10