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Thursday, November 8, 2018

Bohemian Rhapsody 2018 * * 1/2 Stars

Bohemian RhapsodyDirector: Bryan Singer
Year: 2018
Rated PG-13
Rating: * * 1/2 Stars
Cast: Rami Malek, Ben Hardy, Joseph Mazzello

Just for the record, I'm a big fan of Queen. Ever since childhood, their out-of-the-box music has always been in my DNA. From the years 1970 to 1985, the story of rock's most eccentric band is chronicled in Bohemian Rhapsody (my latest review). Actually, it's mostly about Queen's flamboyant and over-biting lead singer, Freddie Mercury. On a side note, the character of Brian May (Queen's lead guitarist) looks like a cross between REO Speedwagon's early Kevin Cronin and Howard Stern. Epic fail for the costume department.

Like with Lizard King Jim Morrison in 1991's The Doors, Mercury's frontman persona is in nearly every frame. The only difference is that "Rhapsody" is sadly rated PG-13 whereas "Doors" merits a hard R. I'm not gonna lie. I have reservations about that and I want some realism darn it.

Image result for bohemian rhapsody movie scenesAnyway, the best reason to see Bohemian Rhapsody is for the lead performance portrayal of "ready" Freddie (played by a totally committed Rami Malek). It's staggering stuff as Malek literally disappears into the role. Is it an impersonation? Yes, but it's the gold standard of rock n' roller impersonations. When he's on stage carousing at Wembley Stadium with mustache and half-microphone stand in tote, Malek makes his Freddie Mercury a totally commanding presence. "It comes to you as to us all. We're just waiting for the hammer to fall". Indeed.

"Rhapsody", with a swiftly paced running time of 133 minutes and some choppy editing, is like a popcorn flick that happens to be a straightforward, rock biopic. The movie also has a splashy look and mounds of energy. I especially enjoyed the final sequence in which Queen performs a badass set of 20-plus minutes at the widely-watched, Live Aid concert. It's accurate, well filmed, extravagant, and ultra cool. I also dug Queen's songs of course but I would've liked to see them perform "You're My Best Friend". That ditty is pure nostalgia for me.

Image result for bohemian rhapsody movie scenesThe only reasons I'm giving Bohemian Rhapsody a mixed review are the fact that it's not particularly deep and lacks a sense of readied rawness. It's almost like a TV movie that the Academy would wince at (sans Malek's favorable acting). Added to that, director Bryan Singer who's not known for tackling this kind of VH1 rock genre, gets the timelines wrong in terms of Queen's successful discography ("We Will Rock You" came out in 77' not 1980, Freddie Mercury didn't get his AIDS diagnosis till 1987 as opposed to 1985, and the band claims they hadn't played for years prior to Live Aid despite putting out an album just 15 months earlier). Honestly, I would've liked to see what scorched residue Oliver Stone would have produced had he been behind the camera here. Bottom line: Bohemian Rhapsody is placidly entertaining yet sort of "easy come, easy go". My rating: 2 and a half stars.

Written by Jesse Burleson

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