Musical biopics tend to be hit or miss, and this one knocked it out of the fucking park. This 2018 film, directed by Bryan Singer… the guy that directed the first wave of X-Men movies, is based on the true story of the legendary band Queen. This is a story of how Brian May, Roger Taylor, John Deacon, and Freddie Mercury became one of the most iconic and memorable bands of all time. The story does skip over some very important milestones and makes being coming a rock star look a little too easy, but I was still very satisfied by the story that was told, specifically the troubling and fantastic life of Freddie Mercury.
Like I said, the movie’s biggest flaw was making becoming an international superstar band look really easy. The formation of the band, and their early “struggles” was skirted over. I think within 20 minutes of the movie, they were already on the charts and touring the world. The movie was pretty safe in that regard. But what I will say is how the actors and writing do a great job of making me believe it. The performances from every actor were spot on from what I know about the real life counterparts. The added bonus that made them all believable was how I didn’t know who any of the actors were… well except for the one but we’ll get to that later. Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy, and Joseph Mazzello made up the three other members of the band. I’ll give you ten bucks if you can tell me who played who. The most famous of the three was Joseph for playing the kid in Jurassic Park. This isn’t a negative by the way. I appreciated it. Movies need to take risks on unknown actors because the performances you get are sometimes better and the faces aren’t associated with anything else. A nice little cameo was in the movie by Micheal Myers, if you don’t know why he would have a cameo… you are lost to me. However, at the end of the day none of the performances matter if the “main bitchy queen” wasn’t the best part of the movie, and he was.
We need to talk about Rami Malek playing Freddie Mercury. I have opinions about the movie but none of us would even care about it if Freddie was not perfect. Yeah he didn’t particularity look like the real Freddie Mercury, but he captured the spirit and soul. Maybe that is why he won the Oscar for this performance. I laughed when he was funny, and I cried when I felt sorry for him. I’m sure there was some level of dramatization, it is a Hollywood movie after all but holy shit were parts of this movie hard to watch. There was an aspect of the movie I wasn’t sure how to feel. Freddie Mercury was Bi-Sexual. The film portrays him as a completely gay man who used the bi-sexual tag as a sort of denial. The movie wasn’t really about his sexuality but I specifically was weirded out about how they handled that. The story focused more on his desire to be loved. Regardless of a person’s gender or sexual preferences, we all just want to be loved, we all want to surround ourselves with family, whether that be by blood, friendship or music so that really connects to the audience. The most powerful moment of the movie for me was a scene where they address that the lifestyle of the rich and famous attract leeches. When someone is suffering and looking for love, a leech won’t care, and abuse that desire. Those scenes ripped my heart. Like I said, I’m not sure how much of the movie was real, but regardless I will always hate everyone named Paul from this day forward.
Speaking of real life, the end of the movie prides itself on a side by side reflection of an actual memorable event. Any level of Queen fan knows about their reunion performance at the Live Aid benefit concert. Even if you didn’t watch any trailers, you had to figure the movie would have touched this somehow. The way they set it up, everything that lead to that moment, the band breaking up, Freddie having AIDS… I shit you not, I cried. It is so fucking beautiful. It was probably one of the most emotional moments I’ve seen in a movie. I wasn’t even alive when that concert was played, but I know about it. Everyone knows about it. Every single band worth it’s salt at the time played on July 13th in 1985, and people only remember the Queen show. It was a very high milestone to feature and the movie delivered. It is probably the closest thing I will ever get to seeing Queen (you know, aside from watching the band perform with Adam Lambert)
The music was perfect throughout the entire movie. I am a Queen fan, probably not as big as most people but I’ve never heard a Queen song I didn’t like. I watched Bohemian Rhapsody with someone who didn’t really know much about the band, and she is now a fan for life. I’m not going to say every song I like was played, but they have almost every hit and quite a few deep cuts. There are even a few moments where they make fun of the song ‘I’m In Love With My Car’. That song is ridiculous. They did spend a lot of time talking about how amazing Queen is but what makes you appreciate the movie is the ability to poke fun at the band too. It felt like the real way the band would come up with the songs. The soundtrack is the perfect “best of” Queen album. Rami did report that the vocals were combined between him and Marc Matel, who is known for his ability for sing like Freddie. You can tell it isn’t the exact same sound but it’s still great to listen to, and at the end of the day, isn’t that the most important part of a movie about a band.
I really enjoyed the film. I think I’ll even buy a copy for my collection. Sure, it wasn’t the perfect movie, but it is the best Queen movie we have. My love for the band aside, I did really enjoy watching their story. Even the parts that broke my heart. They sweeped over a lot of stuff but it is hard to put people’s entire lives into a film, even when the person’s life is cut short by a terrible disease. Like the music of Queen, this movie survives The Snappening with beautiful and poetic flare. People might forget about the film version of Bohemian rhapsody but they will never forget the song it’s named after. Having this moment where you get a glimpse at their story, it’s worth the watch. And best of all, it will make everyone remember how fucking awesome Queen was, is, and forever will be.
Movie watched and review written by: Troy Smith (who is currently looking up concert dates)