Bohemian Rhapsody is entertaining yet lackluster

Bohemian Rhapsody falls short of Queen's legacy. Illustration; Thayer Sindelar · The Sentry

Bohemian Rhapsody falls short of Queen’s legacy.
Illustration; Thayer Sindelar · The Sentry
Freddie Mercury biopic not as operatic as real life

Bohemian Rhapsody chronicles the life of Freddie Mercury from the time he stumbled upon Queen, then called Smile, to the Live Aid concert which brought them back together in 1985. Overall, it is a decent movie with a great cast, but it is not nearly as powerful as the music of Queen.

The movie has a strong cast and  few dull moments. After all, it is a movie about one of the most flamboyant and entertaining musical acts of the 20th century. Freddie Mercury is played by Rami Malek (Mr. Robot), who bears an uncanny resemblance to Mercury.

Bohemian Rhapsody has a plot and cast that demand attention but at times seem underwhelming. The tension that rises between Mercury and the other band members is not as choleric as the struggles in groups like Journey or The Eagles, but the dramatic moments seem rushed.

In the scene when the band breaks up, there is room for a confrontation, but instead of letting emotions out, the other three members just sort of accept it. For most of the movie Mercury had been irritating them, so for such meager dialogue and flair to take place in that scene is a letdown. 

The story is both comedic and dramatic but does not delve too deeply into the tragedy Mercury faced. Bohemian Rhapsody instead seems to be much more focused on Freddie Mercury’s persona and the story of the music, making for a very easy-to-watch and likeable, if not overly illuminating, experience. 

There are several other things the movie could have done better, including the concert scenes. One of the things Queen is world renowned for is their operatic stage presence. It would clearly be challenging to put that on the big screen with actors instead of the real band and a real audience, but nevertheless, it falls flat. The concert scenes are not terrible, just forgettable.

Oddly enough, the scenes where Queen is recording their albums are much more memorable and fun to watch; they are some of the best scenes in the movie. This could be because more dialogue occurs during the recording sessions, which makes those scenes small stories themselves.

The concert scenes do not live up to expectations because they just feel rushed. Parts of songs were either sometimes off beat or cut completely. For a movie about a band, this is a bad idea, and an even worse idea for Queen, since they are so recognizable. The filmmakers  try to make up for this by making the scenes visually pleasant with cutting edge camera movement, but it is often accompanied by banal CGI effects like during the Live Aid concert.    

In short, Bohemian Rhapsody is a very watchable film that has a hard time meeting expectation. When the movie focuses on the story of the music, it becomes much livelier and more entertaining.

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