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I wouldn't call myself a music nut. But I am a huge fan of Queen and I firmly believe Freddie Mercury is the greatest front-man of all-time has the best sounding singing voice I have ever heard.
So despite its production problems and controversy with its director, I was still super-excited to see what they would conjure up. But for sure, I was nervous that this could go horribly wrong in the editing room like most films do with many production changes.
The first act does suggest that you will be distracted by all the hair and teeth on display with it being set in the 70s and 80s. But as the film moves along, you gradually ignore that and it comes just a natural part of the scenery. As for the rest of the opening content, my nerves seemed to heighten, as it seemed to be quickly brush-over various aspects of the bands origins.
But as the film went on, I could tell that there was a lot of ground to cover and they wanted to make sure they thoroughly covered the big parts of the bands development throughout its tenure. There are some cool sequences that certainly amazed me as to how some of their hits began.
Also, the live performances were an absolute joy. Actual Queen band-members Brian May and Roger Taylor did contribute to this film as producers and you can tell that they wanted to make it feel like you're attending a concert as the live show sequences are fantastic to watch and it made me appreciate how accurate they executed them from the archive footage.
I was also enjoying some of the sub-plots that developed that for me enhanced several songs and the band itself.
But the part that will stay for in your memories the longest is the finale. When you see the opening scene, you know where this story is building-up to and could be one of the best pay-offs this year.
The performances on the whole were pretty good with some nice surprises. Rami Malek's performance as Freddie Mercury is what everyone is waiting for, and it sells the entire film. He completely embodies Mercury whilst never making it look like an impression. Everything from his speech, look and mannerism's are all absolutely on point and it is almost reminded me when Ben Kingsley played Ghandi, where you feel you are seeing the man himself right in front of you.
I did have my suspicions of his casting as I really liked the initial choice of Sacha Baren Cohen. But you can tell that he put in the work to make sure it was right and boy did he pull this off. You can feel him at his best, his most vulnerable and the random bursts of energy that Mercury was known for producing in their live shows is their for all to see on the big screen. Malek could not have done it any better. I would happily label this as a sure-fire Oscar contender.
Gwilym Lee as Brian May was perfect. The likeness was scary and the execution of his movement and voice felt like May just created a copy of himself. Ben Hardy had some cool and funny moments as Roger Taylor and I was surprised how charmed I was by his character when everyone naturally heads towards Mercury. Joseph Mazzello was also another top choice to play Roger Deacon and identical to the bands actual bass player.
I was so happy seeing Lucy Boynton after seeing her in Sing Street. Boynton did a solid job and some nice moments with Malek.
Despite not being given much to do, Tom Hollander did as well as you might expect from his experience. I also give the same sentiments to Allen Leech and Aaron McCusker.
There is one surprise minor role that took me a while to recognise who it was and the importance of this casting was beautifully executed from a self-referential standpoint. If you are aware of the history of the "Bohemian Rhapsody" song, then you will love this particular characters contributions to the film.
The technical side on the whole was pretty good. There were several great tracking shots that were mainly used in the live shows.
The sound design and sound editing was particularly noticeable. While it is clear to hear that in the singing parts, they use recordings of Mercury's voice. I managed to be fine with that, because none of it felt lip-synced, they managed to seamless fit it in and make great use of acapella versions of various song which made it work perfectly.
Some of the editing was quite cool as they did it to the beat some of the songs, especially in the final act which for me enhanced my emotions of the situation well.
It is sad to see the general consensus of the critics being rather sniffy. We could have another situation like last year with The Greatest Showman. That means that it's first and foremost a crowd-pleaser, rather than a deep character study with dark and controversial content that will please the critics more than the mainstream audience.
I can partly see where they're coming from as the story structure is very conventional for a biopic, the level of depth and the writing is all on a surface level and it could come across as a sugarcoated version of this bands story. Plus having May and Taylor contribute could also come across as them trying to protect their legacy.
I would have liked to have seen a story or sub-plot that would explore Mercury's personal life. But I can see that was never the direction they were going for. Instead, they showed enough of that part of his life to understand it and make you want to know more.
Pretty much all of its problems reminded me a lot of how Jersey Boys turned it.
But I felt that the strength of the positives made me not totally ignore its problems, but kind of let it off. It may all be portrayed on a surface level, but it was high-quality surface and that for me can still be one hell of an experience that I would happily watch numerous times.
As I said before Rami Malek's performance alone makes this a must-watch. At this point in the year, he deserves to be labelled as a major Oscar contender, and I hope the momentum continues well into the awards season.
The film shows why Queen appealed to both the masses and the outcasts, brought record audience figures to their live shows and why each band-member and them being together was so important to the creation of their many timeless hits.
It's an absolute blast to watch on the big screen and for the people who were brought up by them when they were still making music, it will most definitely roll back the years.