To say the hype in regards to the release of Bohemian Rhapsody was high following the debut of it’s teaser trailer would be an understatement. Queen is one of the most popular bands to ever grace the Earth, with their music still being considered by most as timeless. At their peak the band were revolutionary, and at their lowest they were still Queen.
The main criticisms surrounding this film seem to be that the filmmakers and the remaining band members chose to sanitize the story, in an attempt to make it a more fun experience. For example, Freddie Mercury’s heavy drug use was barely touched upon, with the only hints being showing him as a big partier, showing some cocaine on a table, and his bandmates telling him that “he needs to slow down”.
The casting choice was spot-on when it comes to Rami Malek. With Bohemian Rhapsody, Malek’s career trajectory has just skyrocketed with this movie. He went from a supporting role in the Night at The Museum movies, to starring in critically acclaimed sci-do television program Mr. Robot, and now starring as one of the most iconic figures in music history. With that being said, he absolutely was the best part of this movie, becoming more and more entrancing throughout his performance. He felt as close to Freddie as was humanly capable. Malek totally gave in to the character and became Freddie Mercury. Throughout the film, Malek provides the physical and vocal performance, however when it comes to the musical sequences Mercury’s actual voice was dubbed over Malek, an obvious choice as no one could truly provide an accurate representation of Freddie’s unique voice.
The supporting cast of this movie is also pretty good for what it’s worth. The rest of Queen is made up of Brian May (Gwilym Lee), Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy), and John Deacon (Joe Mazzello). All of them do pretty well, especially Hardy as Roger Taylor, with the running joke of his song I’m In Love With My Car being one of the funnier parts of the film. Lucy Boynton as Mary Austin is also very good, as her relationship with Freddie carries a lot of the film’s drama prior to the band’s breakup. Rounding out the cast is Aidan Gillen as the band’s manager John Reid, Allen Leech who is great in almost everything he is in as Paul Prenter, Tom Hollander as Queen’s lawyer turned manager Jim Beach, and Mike Myers as record label president Ray Foster. Let me just say how nice it was to see Myers in this role. His joke about the song Bohemian Rhapsody’s limited potential, specifically saying that kids would never headbang to it made for one of the best jokes in the entire film.
The live performance scenes in this movie were probably the best aspect other than Malek’s performance, with these scenes making the audience feel as if they were in the arena (I saw it in IMAX so this probably helped a lot). If you have seen the film, the stand-out performance is obviously being Live Aid. They recreated Queen’s entire set from the actual real life performance within the movie (minus their performance of Crazy Little Thing Called Love, which I would assume was due to time constraints). It was a jaw dropping visual sequence as it looked as if they were legitimately performing in Wembley in front of the packed crowd. Not only that, but watching back Queen’s actual performance at that show after seeing the film, it is shocking how right they got it to look in the finished film. Malek’s mannerisms and facial expressions are on point with Mercury’s throughout the set in a way that indicates a painstaking amount of choreography.
With all the positives, the central problem with this movie is not that it is toned down from real life, but rather it’s runtime. This film’s runtime is 2 hours and 15 minutes, and yet it feels almost like it is 3 hours. A movie of that length on its own is not a bad thing, but that’s only the case if the content is engaging and makes a good argument for that length, however with this movie, it’s runtime feels like it goes 20 minutes too long. It drags enough to weigh the whole movie down as well.
As a whole Bohemian Rhapsody is an enjoyable musical biopic, but that’s about it, just enjoyable. The film hits all of the major points of Queen’s career and provides the majority of the band’s greatest hits on the film’s soundtrack which is a major plus in my eyes. Rami Malek’s performance within this film is as close to Freddie Mercury as possible, with the rest of the cast all playing their roles well. The main issue here is the pacing and runtime with the movie. It lags along from the middle until the Live Aid finale, and it is a big enough issue to bring the rest of the movie down.