Who doesn’t like Queen? Seriously. I need to know. Because you’re not allowed to vote or express opinions on anything anymore. The story of Queen and it’s legendary frontman, Freddie Mercury, was always ripe for a movie adaptation. Great music, a lead singer cut down in his prime by a devastating disease, and British accents. Should be a gold mine. Which is why this run-of-the-mill biopic is so damn disappointing.
I think I can safely say that nothing much really happens in this movie. Literally just a series of cliches. Disapproving father figure to make the lead seem more likable? Check. Trying out for the band? Check. The band breaks up? Check. Skeezy band manager? Check. The group gets back together for one last show? Check. Complete disregard for the actual events? Check.
Maybe I should list some good things before I continue eviscerating the film. The music is GREAT. But it’s Queen, so it better damn well be. The musical performances are solid. Especially the finale, which is an almost exact recreation of Queen’s legendary LiveAid performance. All 20 minutes of it. Unfortunately, that’s the end of the list.
The movie fails in many ways but we will start with the editing/writing. This movie is way too long. It is way too long for how much time they spend on pointless bullshit. The first twenty minutes accomplish nothing. There’s a chance of something resembling a story when Queen works on Bohemian Rhapsody, convinces the record label to release it, and then bad reviews pour in, the text of which is displayed on screen. (Great example of how great art can go unappreciated when it’s released and does require further viewing) Does the band deal with the fallout of failure? Nope. They don’t even mention it. They move on, completely and utterly. Like the film is telling us and only us, look at what idiots critics are. But how did the band handle that huge failure? They ignored it, apparently.
My major criticism is the portrayal of Freddie Mercury. Rami Malek absolutely nails the musical performances, I’ll give him that. But not much else. Let’s just get it out of the way now: he has creepy eyes and it doesn’t work for Freddie. (also, those fake teeth look painful.) But I can’t blame Malek for the writing and the directorial choices for the character. They somehow simultaneously gayed it up and didn’t gay it up. Does that make sense? Freddie is extremely flamboyant, which to be fair, on stage he clearly is. But in private life I’ve heard he was famously shy and reserved. Malek plays him as a diva and kind of a pompous ass. That’s the “gayed” up part. But then, despite the opportunity of a lifetime, they downplay Mercury’s sexuality. There’s a lot of implied sex and liasons. We see none of them. If you knew nothing about Queen, you’d quite literally be blindsided by his announcement to the band that he has aids. The film’s idea of him wrestling with his sexuality in a world that disapproves, is him crying while writing songs. THE MAN IS AN ICON. A gay man in the 80s that fronted the most popular fucking band in the world. AND HE DOESN’T WRESTLE WITH IT AT ALL. It’s almost criminal this missed opportunity. There was so much more you could have said or done. Instead Freddie announces that he doesn’t want to be their “poster boy” for aids.
Disappointing and too long sum it up. Like how critics felt about the song Bohemian Rhapsody when it released. But I doubt we will eventually think of this film as a classic.
1 out of 4 stars.