Sandbox: BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY review

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Title: BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY

MPAA Rating: PG-13

Director:  Bryan Singer (although Dexter Fletcher took over directing duties when Singer was fired with 2 weeks left of filming but will not be credited due to DGA rules)

Starring: Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy, Joseph Mazzello, Aidan Gillen, Tom Hollander, Allen Leech, and Mike Myers

Runtime:  2 hours 14 mins

Release date: October 24th (UK), November 2nd (USA)


What It Is: The movie is about the band Queen, the groundbreaking UK group of 4 musicians whose style of music transcended many different genres including Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, R&B, Arena Rock and more, from their early days through to the 1985 Live Aid performance at Wembley Stadium.

What We Think: If you’re a fan of Queen, you MUST definitely see this movie. And if you’re not a fan of Queen, you should still go see it. The movie focuses on many different aspects of Freddy Mercury’s life including his family life, his sexuality, his love life, and his AIDS diagnosis, and it does so all in a way that doesn’t feel too rushed.

When the movie was originally announced in 2010. Sacha Baron Cohen was set to star in the lead role and I looked forward to that since the comedian often gets into character deeply in a way that could have been great. However, due to creative differences he left the project, and eventually Rami Malek signed on. That classic chestnut appears to be a running theme, with original director Bryan Singer apparently not connecting with the project to the extreme of not showing up on set and the studio having to draft substitute director Dexter Fletcher to complete the film.

The threat, then, is for the behind-the-scenes drama to overshadow the film itself. Also, I was unsure of Malek being able to handle such an iconic character, due the fact that I didn’t know much about him aside from his star turn in MR. ROBOT. After seeing some of the trailers, my doubts about him were alleviated; after seeing the film, they were dismissed completely.

Malek was terrific in this role, from the quieter parts of the movie, to the flamboyance that Freddy had, to the final act focusing on the showstopping turn at Wembley in which Malek’s own vocal performance was blended with those of Mercury and Canadian singer Marc Martel.

The cinematography and sound editing for the scenes at various concerts made you feel like you were right there in the middle of the crowd (for some of those scenes, I closed my eyes during so as to just enjoy the music). During the Wembley concert sections, the shots cut back and forth between the perspectives of both the LIVE AID crowd and the band on-stage, which really gave you a sense of the concert previously unseen in those much-dubbed VHS recordings and which I enjoyed a lot. 


Our Grade: 4/5 – Rami’s portrayal of Freddy Mercury should garner him Best Actor nominations when they are announced next year. The soundtrack of various Queen songs from the hits to the lesser known songs was terrific. The supporting cast (including WAYNE’S WORLD star Mike Myers, who ironically makes a joke along the lines of no one would headbang to a Queen song) were all terrific in their roles. I’ll also say the supporting roles were all filled admirably, with standout performances from Allen Leach as band manager (and as close to this film gets to a villain) Paul Prenter, and the let’s-be-honest-here-always-terrific Aidan Gillen as manager John Reid. 

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