Jan 13, 2019
We’re back with another week of reviews, this time including four Golden Globe winners and/or nominees, two Netflix Originals, another great Fantastic Fest pick from Andrew, and introducing a few new reviewers. It’s part of our continuing expansion at One Movie Punch, which you can help support by heading over to patreon.com/onemoviepunch to sign up for a monthly contribution of any size. Sponsors become eligible for Sponsor Sundays, where you can tell yours truly to review a movie.
No new sponsors this week, so we’re going to take a look back at
“Bohemian Rhapsody”, which won the award for Best Motion Picture
Drama, and scored Rami Malek the Best Actor in a Motion Picture
Drama award. It was one of the more controversial picks at the
Golden Globes given the poor critical reviews, and general chaos
behind the scenes. If you don’t believe me, check the show notes
for links to reviews from our partners, including…
Andrew Campbell: twitter.com/Anrcampbell/status/1058568940123766784
Ryan L. Terry: rlterryreelview.com/2018/11/02/bohemianrhapsody/
Two Views Movies: twoviewsmovies.com/episode-67-bohemian-rhapsody/
Moviedrone Podcast: podbean.com/media/share/pb-5msx4-9d960e
You’ll hear my review in a minute, but if you want to check out the movie, it is still playing in select theaters, with a streaming debut later this month. It is currently sitting at a 62% at Rotten Tomatoes and a 49 on Metacritic.
Enjoy the review!
Today’s movie is “Bohemian Rhapsody” (2018), the 20thCentury Fox biopic about Queen directed by Bryan Singer and written for the screen by Anthony McCarten, based on a story in collaboration with Peter Morgan. The film follows Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek), and the rest of Queen, from their initial meeting, their climb up the charts, a string of hits, a string of tragedies, and their eventual reunification for one of the greatest concerts in music history.
Sometimes being a film critic means not getting to fully enjoy a film as much as other folks. I’m not being snotty or mean when I say that, but once you watch enough movies, it changes the way you view films, and honestly, it makes some films harder to enjoy. I actually envy folks who can just sit back and enjoy a film, because there is a lot to enjoy about “Bohemian Rhapsody”, and a lot I did enjoy about it. But it was also a big task. We’re talking about the story of Freddie Mercury. We’re talking about the story of Queen. We’re talking about the story of the music and its legacy. And in today’s film, we’re talking about all three of them mashed into one chronological narrative. That’s swinging for the fences, and this film didn’t quite hit the mark.
Two major sources of confusion for me. First, the film tries to be both a film about Queen as a group and a film about Freddie’s story as an individual. Yes, as the film addresses, the media and many fans had trouble telling the two apart, but in trying to tell a blend of both, neither is really done justice. Committing either way would have allowed a deeper look into the rest of the band, or a better focus on the inner turmoil of Freddie. And with such a strong, dare I say Oscar-worthy performance by Rami Malek, I would go with a full-on Freddie Mercury biopic, starting well before Queen is founded and ending with his funeral.
I did say two sources of confusion. The second is the title. Why call the film “Bohemian Rhapsody”, which feels like a title that tests well in a focus group, rather than have any real meaning to either Queen’s tenure as a band, or Freddie’s life, at least not how it’s presented in the film. A film with a title like “Bohemian Rhapsody” should be ninety or so minutes of the process of making that song, from their initial proposal through its poor reception, and how the cryptic lyrics reflect back on Freddie’s life. I saw all those elements clearly during this film, and I think that became the film I wanted to see, a film within the film if you will. I didn’t want to see a montage of how they created three other hits by arguing in a studio, like a really obvious game of Name That Tune. This is the curse of watching too many movies, and it’s one of the major reasons why sometimes critics can’t predict what will score well with large numbers of fans, if the box office for today’s film is any indication.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” (2018) is a dynamic, chronological look at Queen, Freddie Mercury, and the string of hits that defined their legacy. While it fails to commit to any one of the multiple stories that could be told, a strong performance by Rami Malek and great sound editing make up for some missed opportunities, and creates a roller coaster ride of music, comedy and tragedy. Fans of Freddie Mercury, or Queen, or their music should definitely check out this film, and especially folks who may have only encountered Queen from their greatest hits album.