Is this the real life? Is this just fantasy? Now available On Demand and on DVD is the music biopic Bohemian Rhapsody that tells the tale of the rock band Queen.
Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek) is just a guy from Zanzibar and a baggage handler at London’s Heathrow airport until he impresses upon a local band who just lost their lead singer that he is the perfect replacement. After some trepidation at first, Brian May (Gwilym Lee) and Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy) hear Mercury sing and make him a member of their group. They also need a new bassist since their former lead singer played bass, so they enlist John Deacon (Joe Mazzello), and together, the new band starts playing gigs. Little do they know what craziness is in their future.
With his flamboyant style and ability to galvanize a crowd, Mercury becomes the face of this new band that soon takes on the name Queen. Together, the four bandmates fight and succeed in climbing the ranks to become one of the biggest bands in the world.
The music of Queen was new, different and never able to be put in a box. When people thought they knew what Queen was, the band morphed into something uniquely special and released songs that were as varied as their members. They had to fight to get their classic “Bohemian Rhapsody” released, as people thought no radio station would play the six-minute-plus track. That battle leads to the funniest scene in the film as record executive Ray Foster (Mike Myers) exclaims to the band that kids aren’t going to sit in their car rocking to this tune. This line is perfectly delivered by Myers, who is barely recognizable as Foster but whom audience members will recognize as the kid who sat in his car rocking to “Bohemian Rhapsody” in Wayne’s World.
But those perfect lines are limited in the film. I found myself tapping along to the rhythms, singing the lyrics and reminiscing about the Queen anthems of my youth, but also felt like the film was missing so much. While I smiled and rocked with the band, the treatment of the story played as excuses to sing the music.
This is a movie about a rock band in the ’70s and ’80s and with a PG-13 rating, so much of the story seems sanitized and lacks authenticity in the way it is told. The film does do a good job of showing how the band was more than just Mercury and how May, Taylor and Deacon are some really good musicians in their own right.
Bohemian Rhapsody is available On Demand and DVD beginning Feb. 12. Check your cable system for availability.