Saturday, November 24, 2018

Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)

Sometimes, it’s difficult to tell exactly where something went wrong.  All of the components could work perfectly, yet give you a result that’s inadequate.  I think that the film Bohemian Rhapsody had one thing in common with the song:  Both were ambitious.  The problem is that the movie may have taken on too much for one movie.  Queen is such a legendary band with such a large catalogue of music that the story might have been better suited for a miniseries.

The movie covers a span of 15 years, starting with Farrokh Bulsara joining the band that was then known as Smile.  Bulsara took on the professional name of Freddy Mercury and rechristened the band as Queen.  The narrative skips ahead, making stops at various well-known songs.  The band is shown hitting new professional milestones, like going on tour or performing on an important show.  It ends with their 1985 performance at Live Aid.

My main problem is that the film didn’t really go into any detail.  It was like a stone skipping on water.  It would make contact with the story briefly before moving on to the next thing.  The final act is much better, but doesn’t really make up for the lack of substance overall.

As I said, many of the individual components worked well.  Casting Rami Malek as Mercury was a great choice.  There were also a few scenes with Mike Myers as Ray Foster, the EMI executive who let Queen walk because Bohemian Rhapsody (the song) was too long to play on the radio.  It’s somewhat ironic (perhaps deliberate) considering that Myers was in another movie that helped repopularize the band.

Another thing I noticed was that the movie focused too much on Mercury.  It’s as if the rest of the band was an afterthought.  We see Mercury throwing wild parties and whatnot.  The rest of the band doesn’t seem to have a life outside of the music.  The fact that Brian May has a Ph.D. in astrophysics is mentioned only twice, both times in passing.  I get the impression that there was a lot I was missing out on.

This is mostly evident when dealing with Mercury’s personal (mostly sex) life.  A lot of things were implied.  For instance, we see a trucker go into the men’s room while Mercury looks on with longing.  (There were a few bedroom scenes, but nothing explicit.)

I do think the movie could have been done better, especially considering that it was 135 minutes.  It came across as the recap that a TV series might have before the second part of a two-part episode.  I think it will be enjoyable for some people, but I think most people will be better off waiting for it to come out on DVD.

IMDb page

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