Reviewed: Bohemian Rhapsody
By Ryan Coleman
There’s a simple question I usually ask as an icebreaker: “If you could see any live performance from any current or past band or artist, who would you see?”
My answer? Queen.
Bohemian Rhapsody did not disappoint when it came to justifying my answer to the question I posed. The music powerfully drove the movie forward, leaving me with goosebumps at times and even inspiring me to cheer.
Everything else was kind of…well…bland.
For one, the movie took a surface level look at the entire history of Queen without diving deep into any specific component. Take its treatment of Freddie Mercury’s complicated relationship with his father, for instance; the film briefly displayed how Freddie Mercury’s father disapproved of his lifestyle and never returned to that plot point until the very end of the movie. Plus, its depiction of Queen’s formation felt like it was fast-forwarded, receiving only two minutes of screen time. In a blink of an eye, the band went from being be unknown to selling out massive shows after meeting John Reid, the band’s supportive manager (played by Game of Thrones actor Aiden Gillen). The inspiration for their music was also glossed over with only a brief emphasis on the song “Bohemian Rhapsody,” but left me with more questions about their music than answers. Additionally, Freddie Mercury's sexuality and his battle with AIDS were underplayed and only briefly discussed. As a result of this brevity, the film felt like a Sparknotes summary of the entire history of this incredible band, leaving the audience with too many questions to count. Who were some of Freddie Mercury’s inspirations? How did he get involved with music? How did his inspirations work to create Queen’s music? Was Mercury a good person? What was their trail to initial success after the band formed?
Furthermore, while the film emphasized the life of Freddie Mercury, the other characters lacked development or depth. This led to potentially emotional scenes, such as Mercury firing his assistant manager Paul Prenter in the rain, falling flat. It’s hard to feel sympathy for Prenter when the film hasn’t spent much time fleshing out who he is as a character.
Additionally, Bohemian Rhapsody did not portray Queen and Freddie Mercury in an entirely historically accurate way. The timing of his diagnosis with HIV and the firing of Paul Prenter came after the Live Aid concert, which was depicted as the climax of the movie. Also, the band’s formation was different than the impromptu way it was shown, Ray Foster (Mike Myers), the executive who turned Queen down, never existed, and John Reid left the band on good terms instead of the intense throwing-him-out-of-the-car way it was done in the film. Of course, it is impossible to depict a detailed and perfectly accurate history of Queen in two hours and 15 minutes, but it didn’t feel like this film even tried.
With all this being said, I still enjoyed the movie. Rami Malek’s depiction of Freddie Mercury was superb, especially with the weight of portraying such a legend, and the music was undeniably powerful. Even if it is not an emotionally engaging film, it is an entertaining one. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend seeing it in theaters, but when/if it comes out on streaming websites, it would be a nice watch for a movie night with friends.
Overall rating: 6.5/10