Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Review: Oh momma mia! Momma mia! "Bohemian Rhapsody" mostly works!

Bohemian Rhapsody Review

I've been busy, I admit it. I am playing slight catch-up on several new recent releases. So I got to say that if any Queen fans reading tonight who haven't stumbled into your nearest theater to witness the Queen biopic "Bohemian Rhapsody" should do so as quick as you can. If you only know Rami Malek from television and one of those bad "Twilight" movies, fear not. He's a born star now, and I'm sure you'll be hearing plenty more about him in the upcoming years. This role is going to make him star. Set that to your favorite Queen music, and you've got a great time at the theater.

That's the quick version of this review. If that's all you needed, you may proceed. If you want a little more, I'll be more than happy to oblige. You see, Malek is more than just good. He's more than just playing Freddy Mercury. He's the sole reason to pay full price for a movie ticket and see this on the biggest, best screen you can find. When actors play real people, they walk the fine line between method acting and simple impersonation. Some actors fail, others come alive in way that can define their careers. Rami Malek has just defined his career. It might be strange seeing him in another season of "Mr. Robot" or whatever else he chooses to do in the future after this. Its such a strange performance. Its such a hypnotic performance. And yeah, its pretty close to award season. I can already tell its going to be a competitive year. But I usually suck, believe it or not, predicting who will make it on the ballot. But good God, come on Academy. Not saying Malek will win, but he should get the honor of nomination.

The rest of the cast? They are pretty stellar too. We got Gwilym Lee as Brian May, we got Ben Hardy as Roger Taylor and we got Joseph Mazzello as John Deacon, who round out the rest of the band. They are feeding off of Malek's work like a righteous parasite. They bounce off of Malek's work with ease and they really feel like a close band. Aidan Gillen of "Game of Thrones" fame shows up as one of their managers. Let's just say he causes all sorts of Littlefinger shenanigans, but what else would you expect from Aidan Gillen? He does a good job. Critics describe Tom Hollander as a scene stealer in his movies. I'd say he does a great job here too. Lucy Boynton plays Mary, Mercury's girlfriend. I'd never heard of her until this and I got to say that she does some good work here. The scene when Mercury comes out to her was full of emotion and she sold every moment in it.

How's the music? Stupid question, isn't it? You know if you're a Queen fan or not. All the big songs are in the movie. How Queen came up with them in the first place is nicely explained. If you're not a Queen fan, then you're probably not showing up to this are you? All I am saying is yes, you'll be rocking in the theater to this film's soundtrack, obviously. I have no idea if Malek really sang the songs himself, but if he did, bravo!

The film's big flaw is within the structure itself. I don't know how many of you have seen many music biopics. I sure have. I've seen many of the "Ray's" and "Walk The Line's" and "Straight Outta Compton's" and "Notorious'" and "Jersey Boys'" of the world. I've seen most of the other band biopics I haven't listed. Sadly, all of those movies listed above have something in common and "Bohemian Rhapsody" definitely suffers from this. Pretty much all music biopics feel like they came from a kit. They are so profoundly familiar in their structure where if you've seen one, you've seen them all. I've never taken the time to sit down and study the band Queen, but I walked into this knowing how the movie would play out, and I wasn't wrong. If Hollywood continues to churn out films about popular bands, cool. But they've got to find a way to shrug off the cliches of the sub-genre and make them feel fresh. Some great music doesn't make up for obvious structure problems.

There has been a Queen movie circling a business for some time now. At least since I was in high school. I know that Johnny Depp for the longest time was on the radar to play Mercury. I am glad that Malek got it though, and made it his own. I am glad that "Bohemian Rhapsody" came now because right now felt like the right time. Another one may have bit the dust, but this movie sure didn't.

FINAL GRADE: B+ 

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