Written by / 11/13/2018 / No comments / , , , ,

RAMBLING FACT-CHECKING REVIEW OF 'BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY'

Gwilym Lee looks more the part than Rami Malek attempts it Year: 2018
Hardcore QUEEN fans might get frustrated, or perhaps just confused, that the movie goes from the first album's "Keep Yourself Alive" to "Killer Queen," which is okay so far since QUEEN II was more progressive rock before their stardom... but then during the first tour of America, they're playing "Fat Bottomed Girls" from the latter 70's Jazz album, and that's before recording their 1975 epic "Bohemian Rhapsody" on A Night at the Opera, skipping right past the brilliant followup A Day at the Races...

And then we're at a party hearing "Crazy Little Thing Called Love" from The Game circa 1980 before Brian May comes up with "We Will Rock You" from News of the World in 1977: and then back to The Game with "Another One Bites The Dust," ducking under the failure of the funk-themed (and actually underrated) Hot Space album, and playing the most famous track "Under Pressure" well after they supposedly broke up... which NEVER happened... And backing up to the repeated heckling of Roger Taylor's "I'm In Love With My Car," one of their greatest songs, ever...

News of the World gatefold
But that's all nitpicking, to quote Spinal Tap, and BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY, as a movie, at least has the honesty to make this biopic mostly of and about lead singer Freddie Mercury, with the band on the side as opposed to Oliver Stone naming the Jim Morrison biopic THE DOORS when that band was treated as a mere afterthought... Like the other members of Queen are kind of treated here, at first following Mercury's genius like they're merely along for the ride and not equally brilliant musicians as he is a singer...

And then suffering from their front-man's wild, reckless abandon into heavy partying, which happened all the time back then... What they show of Mercury's nightlife seems no more than a college frat boy's normal weekend, but we're supposed to believe it was an example of over excess... And that's during an era where good old fashion excess (by limitless financial access to buy lots of drugs) was the starting point...

Solo album from 1985: See pics at bottom under review...
In real life, Freddie Mercury's most memorable trait, other than his signature "gay mustache" and the greatest voice in rock music, was his overbite, and, albeit extremely noticeable, he was simply a guy with an overbite. But tiny actor Rami Malek's Mercury seems like a DARK CRYSTAL creature where the overbite controls every aspect of his entire being: like a mechanical "puppet" built from the springs of how the front teeth maneuver, speaking each word like it's a chore and in a somewhat forced manner...

But where it counts is on stage, and in that he does a good enough job to make RHAPSODY more of a Queen Karaoke celebration than an actual story of a ridiculously talented band that mixed progressive rock with early heavy metal, glam rock, rock and roll, rhythm and blues and wrote some genuinely brilliant songs. Along with being great songwriters, QUEEN were musician's musicians, and what made them legendary was the immense talent in each participant, something impossible to put into a two-hour movie... much less a ten minute short film...

Jazz Album, a better cover than album
In-between the blaring tunes are awkward silences leading to scenes where Mercury either sticks to his determined, musical guns (taking a risk to combine opera with rock on the film's title track) or as he morphs into a complete primadonna. These breaks from the music, while important since a story needs being told, feels intrusive and can be painfully contrived and melodramatic. Then the last act veers into a Disease-of-the-Week soap opera...

All moving away from while leading up to Queen's concert-stealing performance at LIVE AID 1985, when Mercury and Queen were still an active but not very commercial-friendly band. It wasn't that they miraculously pulled off a fantastic show than the fact that a massive audience got to see how perfect they are live. In the movie, the LIVE AID audience sang along not only to the chorus but the verses of "Radio Ga Ga" and "Hammer Will Fall," both from The Works album that'd just come out the previous year... the same year this movie made it seem as if Queen were no longer functioning...

Bohemian Rhapsody Rates: ***
Meanwhile, the film's villain is Mercury's gay, manipulative manager causing the "break-up" that has mostly to do with a solo album Mercury worked on and, in doing so, breaking the hearts of his band-mates. But someone mixed up the David Lee Roth/Van Halen story because, at this time, the members of Queen all had solo albums (Brian May's Star Fleet resides in a personal collection and the others are pictured beneath the review)...

Stealing Live Aid in 1985
It didn't take Mercury two long years to mix the album because of his drug-fueled lifestyle, or his distance from the band or lack of good musicians. The truth is, he always put Queen first, and barely had time for anything but what they were working on, together... 

And last but not least — at least for what's another melodramatic aspect of the movie — Mercury wasn't diagnosed with AIDS until after they semi-faded into the kind of obscurity the band's thrown into earlier-on, just so the Live Aid concert finale could seem like the band's resurrection (when it was really a resurgence). And while entertaining enough as a Queen-for-Dummies tale for the masses, BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY has a hard time connecting this brilliant and timeless band with their music — especially when the music isn't playing. And yet, walking out of the theater, there's a fantastic feeling inside, knowing that music in general was once that great, once. The movie deserves some credit for giving ample credit where it's long overdue.
In 1983, Brian May's solo: Star Fleet Project + Friends w/ Eddie Van Halen... John, Roger and Freddie didn't mind...
Also, John Deacon's solo album came out in 1983... Freddie, Roger and Brian could care less...
And Roger Taylor had two solo albums from 1981 and 1984... This movie lied to you, a lot...
Lastly, All Together: QUEEN II cover that later become the template of Bohemian Rhapsody's image live
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