Bohemian Rhapsody is a love letter to the incredible work and career of the iconic Freddie Mercury, as well as a smashing concert film that dazzles with its impressive library of Queen’s catchiest songs. Despite glaring pacing issues and a tendency to bend the facts a little too far, Rami Malek’s electric portrayal of the prodigious lead singer will remind you why music at the movies is always such a blast.
Queen was one of the biggest rock bands of the 70s and 80s, garnering millions of fans across the world with hit favourites like ‘We Will Rock You’ and ‘Another One Bites the Dust’. But before they were Queen, they were Smile. In 1970, guitarist Brian May (Gwilym Lee) and Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy) are given the unfortunate news that their current lead singer is moving on, threatening to end the band’s career. However, that void is quickly filled by Freddie (real name, Farrokh Bulsara), their new frontman, who renames the band to Queen and changes the course of their lives forever.
From his first appearance, Rami Malek is as captivating as the man he is based on. His questionable prosthetic false teeth quickly dissolve away amid a strong, charming, witty character that blazes a trail of raw musical talent until the very end of the movie. He’s an absolute joy to watch, and an actor to keep your eye on. The rest of the cast do a very good job of filling in the blanks but make no mistake – this is Malek’s show.
The story is where many critics are drawing the line, as it is unashamedly a pretty standard rock band rags-to-riches story, with the second act low point and eventual resounding climax. Thing is, it does it so damn well you almost can’t help but forgive it. The set piece music numbers are some of the best I’ve seen in a movie theatre. Ever. And that’s not just because I like the music.
The montage of them creating songs like ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ was also such fantastic fun with an audience, as you can tell people are quietly tapping their feet and humming the tune along with the characters. Combine that with a large cinema screen and a Dolby Atmos sound system, and you have a pretty amazing time indeed. I’m not sure if this effect will translate well to the small screen, so you need to enjoy this at the movie theatre.
The only real issue is pacing, as the movie runs out of steam at the halfway point. However, the interesting character interactions and drama do enough to hold you over until the next infectious singalong scene. I won’t spoil the end sequence, but it’s an amazingly cathartic, if overlong, extravaganza that pays the ultimate tribute to the band.
If you’re going in to this film expecting a completely accurate biopic of Freddie’s life, you’ll walk away disappointed. If you’re going in to it for any other reason, you’ll have an amazing time.
Sonar Film is showing:
Bohemian Rhapsody in LT1 until 16 November
Tickets: £4.00 Students/ Staff, £4.50 General Public
Check out their website here.