Friday, November 16, 2018


Great songs, star performance, ignite Bohemian Rhapsody

Movie biographies are tricky. But when the subject is the innovative rock group, Queen, there’s one thing we know absolutely — the soundtrack is going to be killer.

Fortunately, for the surviving members of Queen, the legacy of the legendary Freddie Mercury, and especially the audience, the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody is more than just great music.

From the opening 20th Century Fox fanfare scorched out of an electric guitar to the ecstatic grand finale of "We Are The Champions" live onstage, this is a joyride for Queen fans.

Directed by Bryan Singer (he was replaced by Dexter Fletcher toward the end of production, but retains the credit), the movie falls into some of the pitfalls of telescoping events to fit the format. But it heroically depicts the Queen era (late'70s - early '80s), and the band's phenomenal creative energy and output.

Reel life: Malek (R) with the movie Queen
 Central is the dynamic performance of Rami Malek (TV's Mr. Robot) as Freddie Mercury. Speculation on who would play Freddie haunted this project for years, but in Malek, the filmmakers found an actor unorthodox enough to embody the singer's outsider persona, yet soulful enough to engage us in Freddie's lifelong quest to become himself. Did I mention he does his own singing?

The best scenes capture the band inventing itself from the solid musical grounding of guitarist Brian May (Gwilym Lee) and Freddie's audacious vocal orchestrations, and his desire to do "grand" things, and never repeat himself. The song, "Bohemian Rhapsody," makes no sense as narrative. Nobody has a clue what it's about. Nobody cares. The operatic, six-minute, style-shifting epic is something we get, intuitively, on a visceral level.

Which is how it was conceived, according to this move's delicious montage of the band crafting together the song's diverse bits, on Freddie's instinct alone.

Real-life Queen
The movie celebrates the appeal of Queen not to gay, straight, or neutral audiences, nor fans of any particular genre, but as "misfits playing to other misfits!" How inclusive can you get? "We Are the Champions" is an equal-opportunity anthem. No wonder this movie zoomed to the top of the box office its first weekend!
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