Whoever hasn’t listened to songs like Another One Bites the Dust or We Will Rock You clearly hasn’t heard of the band, Queen. With their vocally gifted singer, Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek) they made a name for themselves throughout the 70’s experimenting with genre melding songs. As the decades came and went, their music took the world by storm while Mercury himself was discovering some new sides of his life only confiding to his girlfriend, Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton).
Obviously Mercury is the headlining focus of this true story, so it’s understandable why the other band members like Brian May (Gwilym Lee) Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy) and John Deacon (Jurassic Park’s Joseph Mazzello) didn’t get as much attention. Malek definitely has the elasticity of Mercury’s stage performance as if it were an Olympic sport. Coupled with the dental prosthetics, they might as well have just invented a time machine and stolen the real band for the film, even if interfering with the past leads to many future consequences. Same goes for the costumes and hairstyling, constantly evolving, but never having a false sense of placement. And when the band goes on tour, the concerts are nothing short of an audience participation riot surrounded in cheers and rhythmic energy that only the big screen could deliver on. It’s also during rehearsals that the framing takes on the style of the four seasons. Soft, orange glows pop inside the bars during the 70’s while brighter lighting shows the passage of time come the 80’s. Stuff like that puts this in Oscar territory for the technical achievements.
But after some research it’s appalling how much history was sacrificed for standard biopic moments, particularly in the third act. Beat by beat is taken from the likes of the Chipmunks saga and even Jem and the Holograms concerning the life of starving artists and their war with corporate bigheads over creative livelihood. Apart from Freddie’s orientation that many thought this wouldn’t dive into (and even that truth is stretched like taffy) many events that break away from the cheering crowds to the barely scratched surface of a man born in the wrong era falls victim to so many tired tropes. For a music group ahead of its time, there’s not much focus on showcasing the comradery this family has, creating one smash hit after another at the expense of their sanity from time to time. Opting instead for non-organic scene transitions that feel like a series of unrelated events stitched together to form some confused scarecrow of a biography. Given how long this took to get off the ground, the 8 year journey of this production probably would’ve been more authentic if only to pull uncredited director, Dexter Fletcher out from the shadows after Bryan Singer was fired midway through filming.
As a concert tour Bohemian Rhapsody delivers the authenticity of the time periods, costumes and well known songs. As a biopic it went places many thought it wouldn’t go, but at the cost of Queen historians retaking a 101 crash course in music industry stories when they’re becoming a dime a dozen without any new twists. Perhaps another historically accurate take, via a remake or exclusive series on Netflix or Amazon Prime, would’ve given more time to cover a game changing band’s lifetime achivements in more than two hours. If you’re looking for a best of compilation of this famous group there’s plenty of Freddy to go around. But if you want an accurate historical insight of either Mercury or the band, many libraries are willing to provide more depth to each and every hysterical queen through books or documentaries. It doesn’t completely bite the dust, but there could’ve been a lot more stranger truth than fiction.