REVIEW: ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is a bland band biopic

The pacing in this movie was so fast. Maybe that would work for, I dunno, a biopic about the band Rush, but not Queen.

“Bohemian Rhapsody” tells the tale of the band Queen, with a significant focus on the life of Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek). The picture follows Mercury during his time in college where he discovers the band, all the way to his performance during the Live Aid concert.

As it goes on, the film covers Mercury’s sexual orientation, his creation of the song that shares the same name of the movie, his struggle with drugs and disagreements he had with other members of Queen.

Not only was “Bohemian Rhapsody” rather inaccurate in its presentation of the Queen story, but, as I mentioned in the lede, it moved way too fast. In roughly the first 30 minutes, the movie showcases Queen’s formation and his marriage proposal to Mary Austin. I know this because I was so astonished all this was happening so quickly that I checked the time.

It continues on like this for the rest of the runtime, basically becoming a slideshow of Queen. As a result, “Rhapsody” feels like a rather bland band biopic with borderline made-for-TV quality.

Things that maybe should’ve been the sole focus, such as Mercury’s AIDS diagnosis or his relationship with his partner, are either glossed over, or not given enough attention.

It’s as though the whole movie was written to be a checklist. Show how the band formed, check. Show how they created “Bohemian Rhapsody,” check. While this does give some background on how Queen formed, it doesn’t really dig any deeper into who these people were, especially the other members of the band.

Then, with the ending, the movie takes many liberties and tries to wrap up Mercury’s whole story in a nice little bow during the Live Aid concert. Simply put, it just sticks to that band biopic formula way too much, and invokes memories of the genre parody “Walk Hard” with John C. Reilly.

The movie even features odd inconsistencies that showed a lack of care. For example, whenever the band goes on tour, the locations are shown in captions. However, the font of these captions seemed to change as things went on. That might not seem like a big deal, but it just came across like the movie didn’t have an identity of its own.

Some credit can and should be given to Malek for his portrayal of Mercury. Malek went all in for this role, working to capture everything about Mercury, from the on stage movements to the overall demeanor. Mercury’s passion is truly brought to the screen by Malek’s performance, and it’s one of, if not the best part of the entire film.

The rest of the cast is somewhat hit or miss. The band members do fine work with what they’re given, but there’s nothing outstanding. However, there were other performances that were either forgettable or downright absurd. An example of the latter is Mike Myers, who portrays a (fictional) record company exec who comes across as unbelievable because of how antagonistic he is.

On another positive note, the movie can bring some enjoyment just from hearing the Queen songs. There’s a reason the band was so popular, it’s because the music was damn good. There’s a lot of energy around the musical scenes, and it’s great to hear the songs with theater speakers.

Plus, the concerts sequences are pretty well put together technically speaking. The final performance at the Live Aid concert, for example, does have a sense of scale that shows just how well attended it was and how epic the band’s work on stage ended up being.

Overall, “Bohemian Rhapsody” isn’t bad per se, but it’s just so dull. The film takes such a generic approach, with very little style. I liked Malek’s performance and I’m down to listen to some Queen, but there’s not much more to offer here. 2.5 out of 5.

Author: Matthew Liedke

Journalist and film critic in Minnesota. Graduate of Rainy River College and Minnesota State University in Moorhead. Outside of movies I also enjoy sports, craft beers and the occasional video game.

One thought on “REVIEW: ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ is a bland band biopic”

  1. Dull is a good word for this, which is a shame because I thought the scenes of them performing were really great. It’s too bad the rest of the film didn’t match that.

    Liked by 1 person

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