Bohemian Rhapsody Review: A fair but flawed look at one of the greatest bands in history.
The time has finally come to give my thoughts on Bohemian Rhapsody, a film not only about her majesty, Queen, but about the life of the band’s most hysterical queen, Freddie Mercury. Mercury and Queen were so unconventional and always tried to do something different that made their music unique. So, truthfully, writing the same old review with the same old style just wouldn’t work for Bohemian Rhapsody. Thus, instead of just giving my thoughts with the traditional format, all of these thoughts will be split into two sections: what Bohemian Rhapsody was and what it could’ve been.
What Bohemian Rhapsody Was
It’s a solid celebration of what Queen is and was as it blends the iconic songs with some more in-depth looks at both the music and Freddie Mercury. The film captures Mercury as just a skinny lad who never knew no good from bad, but knew life before he left his nursery. It captures his more flamboyant personality and Rami Malik makes his remarks and ideas feel incredibly authentic. Bohemian Rhapsody even brings in some of Mercury’s personal life with his Indian background, how he was able to sing with a four-octave vocal range, relationships with his bandmates and his longtime love Mary Austin, and how Queen was able to create their iconic sound.
It’s pretty straightforward as biopic’s go and you get to see Queen and Mercury rise and fall only to rise once more. Not to mention, seeing the band come up with songs that everyone knows is enjoyable and seeing Brian May start to do the iconic stomp, stomp, clap of “We Will Rock You” kind of makes you want to join in. Also, the other bandmates bring in some funny moments and showcased their own desires to go against the grain and create music that was for all the other misfits that were just like them.
This all leads to an incredible powerful recreation of Queen’s iconic performance at the Live Aid concert in 1985. Malek brings his all and has incredible energy when performs on stage. It’ll surely be an authentically nostalgic experience for some and will definitely leave others in tears as the film fully captures what Mercury was all about.
What Bohemian Rhapsody Could’ve Been
Now, all joking and obvious song references aside, Bohemian Rhapsody tells the story of Queen in a by-the-books and generically good fashion and frankly none of that should ever be associated with someone like Queen or Freddie Mercury. As said before, they were all really anything but ordinary and while Bohemian Rhapsody captures the look and sound of Queen, it takes a hard miss on capturing its lyrics.
The film makes such an effort to show how much the words of Queen’s songs meant to its audience without ever explaining why. There’s a reason that people started to sing their songs back to them at concerts; it’s because the words meant something to them. The film never captures this and it constantly feels like some songs are not as important and only taken a quick glance at rather than the great attention to detail that they deserve.
The band itself isn’t given much attention either as the spotlight is pretty much on Mercury the whole time. Look, Freddie Mercury is truly a treat to see on-screen and there was no chance that he wasn’t going to steal the show, but the other bandmates seem to just come off as people to agree with Freddie when the opportunity comes. Brian May, Roger Taylor, and John Deacon are frankly just considered by the film to be “the other bandmates,” which is why it’s so hard to not refer to them like this, and they deserve much more credit than that.
These guys actually helped create some of the band’s most iconic works and the film gives them the most streamlined credit possible and instead of making them just as much of a misfit as Mercury, they come off as just normal. This is odd considering the fact that Roger had the desire to dress in drag for the “I Want to Break Free” music video and many would’ve probably expected that from Mercury. There’s even little light shed on the fact that Mercury was bi-sexual and how they all reacted to it and instead focuses more on his relationship with Mary Austin.
The film misses such a great opportunity to shed some interesting light on the other guys and makes them seem unimportant. It’s frankly a bit of disservice considering the fact the band still sells out shows even without Mercury at the microphone. For a film, that considers them all to be a strong part of the band, Mercury seems to be the only one it cares about.
Oddly enough, Bohemian Rhapsody’s biggest blunder is that it has no sense of vision, risk, or flamboyant moments. It’s formulaic and doesn’t really feel like it’s something that represents what Queen is. Where’s the randomness or those moments that would just blow your mind because something so incredibly crazy is happening on-screen? The film also only relegates the songs to be basic fan service rather than having them set the pace of the story. Not to mention, instead of just recreating a small portion of the Live Aid performance, there should’ve just been a cut to black and just put on the actual, full performance from Queen on-screen. It would literally have encapsulated everything leading up to it and would’ve given fans the opportunity to see it on the big screen.
Now, with everything said, if I had to guess how Freddie Mercury would feel about Bohemian Rhapsody, I can only imagine that he would have reacted the same way he did with Ray Foster. He would’ve said that it would’ve been forever known as the film that just couldn’t get Queen right and then thrown a brick at the screen. The performances and the incredible music save it from being anything close to bad, but it’s just hard to escape feelings of what could’ve been.