It was all smiles leaving the cinema but let’s see what Hooked On Film’s three reviewers really thought of Bohemian Rhapsody.
I think it’s safe to say it’s never a good sign when a film’s director is abruptly dispatched from a project in the middle of production. No good comes of it. It’s like sitting through a Beatles record only to have Justin Bieber finish out the last three songs. Bohemian Rhapsody suffers such a fate, which is a shame because it’s about one of the most powerful bands of the rock era and is carried by a lead performance that is sure to be around come awards season.
Queen was fronted by Freddie Mercury, who famously said, “When I’m performing I’m an extrovert, yet inside I’m a completely different man”. In Bohemian Rhapsody Mercury is played by the brilliant Rami Malek, who indeed commands the screen with Freddie’s mystical charm and achieves something special – he holds us in the palm of his hand. Too bad, then, that the film constructed around him feels like an empty B-side. Directing difficulties aside, the writing by Anthony McCarten is filled with placeholder dialogue that does little to elevate the material beyond a very basic, predictable, and often frustrating fictional biography.
⭐ ⭐ ⭐
Bohemian Rhapsody has it’s faults and to be fair, it’s a hard task to recreate the story of a legendary band who’s reputation proceeded them. What is brilliant about this film is the cinematography and costume design. Cinematographer Newton Thomas Sigel does some impressive camera manoeuvres, making use of the set design by weaving in, out and under objects, and using mirrors to capture reactions of characters. Similar to his work on Drive, Sigel almost utilises the camera as an extension of Mercury, creating a visually intimate style that captures the rawness of the emotion of screen.
Equally as spectacular as the cinematography is the costume design. Costume designer Julian Day manages to capture the incredible sense of style that Mercury had and recreate some of the more memorable costumes he wore during Queen’s stage shows. There’s an energy and empowerment that clothes gave Mercury, and Day not only captures his flamboyant style but Mercury’s change in fashion as the band progressed and grew in popularity.
There’s a lot of fun to be had while watching Bohemian Rhapsody, and while it’s not perfect, there is a lot of fantastic talent on display in the film, and it maturely handles Mercury’s life without detracting from his legacy.
⭐ ⭐ ⭐ ½
Corey J. Hogan
As already mentioned, Bohemian Rhapsody is undeniably flawed in its approach to writing and storytelling. It’s more than a little telling that the band’s surviving members held some of the creative reigns, given that the expected focus on Mercury is pulled back to incorporate his less exciting band mates more – not to mention playing it safe and relatively formulaic, while glossing over some of the grittier elements like Mercury’s sexuality, substance abuse and HIV struggles.
But for all its shortcomings, Bohemian Rhapsody makes up for it in sheer spectacle. This is thanks almost entirely to an absolutely all-conquering performance from Malek as Freddie, who dazzles in an explosive, deliciously flamboyant turn that transforms him completely into the enigmatic legend. If Mr. Robot proved he had talent, this will skyrocket him straight to the A-list; you simply can’t take your eyes off him.
Elsewhere, the film succeeds where it recreates Queen’s many incredible live performances, perfectly capturing the energy and electricity that must have been felt amongst the thousands of people who witnessed them in the flesh. It culminates in an extended replica of their outstanding Live Aid performance of ’85 to a crowd of 100,000 people, a high note to ensure you leave the cinema positively buzzing. It might not be the great Freddie Mercury expose we dreamed of, but fans of Queen are in for a treat – as are Wayne’s World devotees, with a genius reference thrown in for good measure.
Bohemian Rhapsody is available in Australian cinemas from November 01
Also screening as part of the RoofTop Movies Program 1 on Dec 06.
Image courtesy of Twentieth Century Fox