After almost a decade in development, the new Freddie Mercury and Queen biopic is finally out. The movie, Bohemian Rhapsody, tells the story of the legendary rock band’s career from their formation to their historic performance at Live Aid in 1985. For what it is, Bohemian Rhapsody is a well made movie and makes for a good time at the movie theater.
While the movie tells the story of Queen, the focus is on the band’s charismatic frontman Freddie Mercury- who is portrayed by actor Rami Malek. Malek is perhaps best known for his role as Elliot Alderson in the USA Network drama Mr. Robot. As a Mr. Robot fan myself, I thought Malek would be able to pull it off. In Mr. Robot, Malek is able to throw himself into the character of the socially anxious hacker Elliot Alderson. Bohemian Rhapsody is no exception as Malek absolutely nails it as Mercury. From his uncanny accent to his mannerisms, Malek could very well be nominated for an Oscar for his performance. The rest of the cast are also very good. The actors chosen to play Mercury’s band mates- Brian May (Gwilym Lee), John Deacon (Joseph Mazello) and Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy)- are all very good. Actress Lucy Boynton also shines as Mary Austin- one of Mercury’s dearest friends. She and Malek have great on screen chemistry, which really shows in the movie’s most dramatic scenes.
Aside from the cast, the music of Queen is used throughout the entire movie. When it comes to the live performances, that’s when the music really comes to life- especially during the Live Aid performance. Looking down the list of songs played in the movie, almost all of the band’s biggest hits are featured. Some are featured more predominately than others while some songs are referred to in dialogue. In the concert recreations, Malek looks very believable as Mercury performing a show. In several interviews, Malek has mention that Mercury’s voice in the movie is a mix between his voice and singer Marc Matel’s. Whatever the case is, the music of Queen is used to its advantage throughout the movie.
One of the major criticisms that the movie has faced is that it glosses over Mercury’s sexuality and AIDS diagnosis. During the 1980s, Mercury’s face was all over the tabloid papers- which told stories of the lavish parties Mercury would host at his home. With its PG-13 rating, some critics felt the movie held back. I personally think the movie dealt with this very well. Sometimes, a scene says more when something is hinted at and/or implied. In the movie’s defense, this is supposed to be a celebration of Mercury’s life and career. However, the movie doesn’t hold back on the negative aspects of Mercury’s life. Mercury wasn’t a perfect person and that is shown in the movie.
While Bohemian Rhapsody is a good movie, it isn’t without its flaws. As expected with any biopic, some things were changed around. Longtime Queen fans will notice that there are some chronological mistakes throughout the movie and some of what is seen in the movie didn’t happen in real life. When it comes to biopics, the screenwriters are trying to create a story that’s informative while also entertaining. Sometimes what happened in real life isn’t all that exciting. While I’m fine with this, it’s hard to ignore some of the mistakes the writers seem to have overlooked. For example, the scene in which the band is shown writing “We Will Rock You” is said to have happened in the 1980s. In reality, the song was released on the band’s News of the World album in 1977- a period in which Mercury was still clean shaven and had longer hair.
Another thing that I personally found to be distracting was the humor. Nothing’s wrong with having some humor in the movie but some of it feels forced and/or out of place. The scenes involving Mike Myer’s character stick out the most. Myer’s character is reluctant to release “Bohemian Rhapsody” as a single given its length. Myers even remarks that people would probably like Roger Taylor’s “I’m In Love With My Car”- citing that would be a song kids would bang their heads to while driving. This is obviously a nod to the famous scene in Wayne’s World, which Myers starred in. Did it really need to be in there? It’s humor like this that I feel the movie didn’t really need.
Despite its flaws, Bohemian Rhapsody still manages to be a strong movie. As far as rock biopics go, Bohemian Rhapsody can now join the list as one of the good ones. While it isn’t the most accurate biopic, it’s a movie that effectively celebrates the music of Freddie Mercury and Queen. For those who are looking for something more factual, I recommend checking out the 2011 documentary Queen: Days of Our Lives. Whether you’re a Queen fan or not, Bohemian Rhapsody is well worth checking out.
I'm a writer/journalist with a passion for music and pop culture. Having graduated from King's College in Wilkes-Barre, PA in 2014, I've been looking for a platform in which I can share my passions. Since 2009, I've been posting to my own blog- The Walrus' Music Blog- via Blogger. I'm also the author of two self-published books, "The Camp: Stories from the Summer" and "The College: Stories from King's." Together, the two books cover the story of my life from 2004 to 2014. I've been lucky enough to interview several of my favorite musicians over the years and go to concerts from time to time. I'm also very devoted to the CBS reality TV show Survivor, which I started watching in 2002 when its fourth season started. I currently live in New Jersey.