“Bohemian Rhapsody” is a joyous celebration of all things Freddie Mercury and Queen, but it’s also the sort of musical biopic that alters history and follows familiar cliches in order to make a more fulfilling movie.
But if all you want to do is rock out to recreations of Queen’s greatest concert hits, then you’re sure to have a great time with the new film.
Up-and-comer Rami Malek fully embodies the role of the iconic and enigmatic Freddie Mercury, copying his mannerisms down to a science. Malek dazzles on both stage and screen, holding nothing back as he dances and gyrates the way only Freddie Mercury can. The singing is a mixture of Malek, Mercury recordings and another vocalist, but they sound as powerful as any Mercury performance from the past.
In its efforts to celebrate the legendary rock band, “Bohemian Rhapsody” is fairly by-the-numbers. Rather than delve too deeply into any seedy behind-the-scenes details or find some new angle to explore, “Bohemian Rhapsody” is straight forward in telling the story of a band coming together, the lead singer getting devoured by fame and then everybody coming back together for the big climax.
The film features plenty of stock characters, like the stubborn record executive who doesn’t understand the majesty of Queen. Or the evil hanger-on who only uses Freddie for his fame, getting Freddie lost in sex and drugs. It’s only the love of his life that can snap Freddie out of that funk, and he reunites with his band just in time to rock what is portrayed as the biggest concert of his career.
The film doesn’t shy away from Mercury’s homosexuality and flamboyancy, nor does it sugarcoat his contracting the AIDS virus. But those things aren’t nearly as shocking in 2018 as they were in the 1980s. And after Malek so convincingly brings Freddie Mercury to life over the course of the movie, the news of his impending death is an emotional blow in the lead up to the climax.
And what a climax!
The film ends with Queen’s famous performance at Live Aid in 1985, and “Bohemian Rhapsody” just goes for it. If you’re a fan of the music of Freddie Mercury and Queen, the new movie is as enjoyable a showcase as you’re likely to find.