MMT Quick Review: Bohemian Rhapsody

L-R: Ben Hardy (Roger Taylor), Gwilym Lee (Brian May), Joe Mazzello (John Deacon), and Rami Malek (Freddie Mercury) star in Twentieth Century Fox’s BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY. Photo Credit: Alex Bailey.

Last week, I wrote about “Widows,” the film that I most regretted not seeing in theaters last year. This week I’m writing about the film that almost took that title, BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY, which was released last week on Blu-Ray/DVD/Digital and of which (hallelujah) I received a screener copy.

Named after the legendary band QUEEN’s hit song, which happens to be one of the best-selling singles of all-time, “Bohemian Rhapsody” highlights Queen’s formation and the immense talent of its frontman, the late Freddie Mercury.

Prior to the film, and after its release, there was a lot of criticism and focus on what the center of the story was and wasn’t. And it’s true that those who wanted a nuanced story, especially centered on Freddie’s life, versus a big budget synopsis of Queen’s creation and evolution from its start in London, England through its renowned 1985 Live Aid performance were bound to be sorely disappointed.

It’s also true that screenwriter Anthony McCarten and director Bryan Singer took liberties with the chronology and timeline of events experienced by the group, the most notable being Mercury’s AIDS diagnosis which is portrayed prior to the Live Aid performance in the movie but actually occurred later in 1987. However, I was fine with these changes for two reasons: 1) Brian May and Roger Taylor (founding members of Queen) were involved in the film’s production which to me validates the creative license taken and 2) the music was as much of a character as the leads and its placement was flawless.

That being said, it would have been nice to see more of Mercury’s issue with his Parsi background, or the family conflict that is handled so briefly yet seems to be tied neatly in a bow at the end of the film.

Yet, I’m reminded of a scene in the film, where the members of Queen are holding a press conference and faced with journalists who bombard them with impolite and personal questions to which Brian May, portrayed by Gwilym Lee, responds, “Anyone want to talk about the album?”

L-R: Gwilym Lee (Brian May), Rami Malek (Freddie Mercury), and Joe Mazzello (John Deacon) star in Twentieth Century Fox’s BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY. Photo Credit: Courtesy Twentieth Century Fox.

And that’s exactly where “Bohemian Rhapsody” is at its strongest, when the focus is on the music. And can we talk about Rami Malek for a minute? Because he deserves every award and every bit of acclaim that he’s been, and will be, bestowed. Malek disappears into and exudes Mercury’s intense physicality – with the help of movement coach Polly Bennett who allows him to capture the intricacies of Mercury’s movements perfectly.

I would be remiss if I also didn’t mention the superb work by makeup/hair artist Jan Sewell, who was able to replicate the band’s looks, especially with Rami who was coming off work on Mr. Robot with short hair and not enough time to grow out – which led to him sporting Mercury’s various looks with wigs throughout the film (yes even that short cut).

In sum, “Bohemian Rhapsody” gives an abbreviated but proper look into the creation of arguably one of the greatest bands of all-time and accurately highlights the facts that both Queen and Freddie Mercury are rock legends. I would rate it 4 out of 5 stars on the MMTrometer.

Bohemian Rhapsody is available now on 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray, and DVD, and includes the complete “Live Aid” movie performance not seen in the theaters. This is definitely one to own, and sing loudly to as my neighbors can attest ( 😛 ).

Until next thought, Thomasena

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