Director: Bryan Singer/Dexter Fletcher
Remember the line in Wayne’s World that goes “Everybody in the world has Frampton Comes Alive. If you lived in the suburbs you were issued it. It came in the mail with samples of Tide.” My Frampton Comes Alive was Queen’s Greatest Hits – you were seemed to be issued with it at ten years old.
Most of the civilised world is probably aware of the difficult birth Bohemian Rhapsody has had, including the hiring and firing of its director (once) and lead actor (twice), never a good sign. But after seeing the pretty impressive trailer and as a fan of Queen’s imperial phase (see above), I booked a few tickets for two of my oldest friends who are more Queen obsessive than me, plus the GLW – very much a floating voter.
Bohemian Rhapsody is a very inconsistent film, with some great set pieces let down by some clunky dialogue and a ridiculous disregard for the band’s history. In this universe, the success of the band in the early 80s is ignored and Freddie leaves the band to do solo material and live hedonistically, then is talked back in to rejoining the band, comes out to his family AND gets diagnosed as HIV positive – all in the run up to Live Aid. Some of the moments look corny but actually happened (the mic stand breaking which Mercury turned into a trademark, Kenny Everett breaking the title song by playing it on his show). But there are too many portentous one-liners and not enough of a feeling of what it was like to be there – it comes across as a formulaic rock biopic with everything but the montage sequence.
Many have remarked on what a good job Rami Malek has done portraying Freddie Mercury, and he is pretty impressive, though he can’t help looking more like Arsenal’s Mesut Ozil in a succession of wigs and moustaches. Some of the live set pieces are spectacular, and Malek is great in these, but I was surprised to be unmoved by the Live Aid recreation at the film’s end – there is so much CGI it felt like a computer game version with its eerily uniform ‘crowd’ and ‘impossible’ shots from odd bits of the stage, just because they could.
To sum up, I don’t mind that some of the excess has been sanitised, or the odd bad wig, but the messing around with history to make Live Aid the final shot at redemption, and the poor script are a real disappointment.
Might appeal to people who enjoyed:
Ray, Walk the Line and other undemanding rock biopics. The GLW liked it a lot more than me, so my review could be the grouching of a fan who expected more.