*Stomp stomp clap* *Stomp stomp clap*
Chances are that just reading that simple beat would have kick-started a song in your head, a perfect example of how Queen and their songs have permeated pop culture, creating anthems that have been the background of many a party, and a sure-fire way to get everyone running onto the dance floor and singing in unison.
The band are a cultural phenomenon transcending generations, and Bohemian Rhapsody delves into the story behind Queen’s leading man Freddy Mercury (Rami Malek) and his troupe of misfits; lead guitarist Brian May (Gwilym Lee), drummer Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy) and bass guitarist John Deacon (Joseph Mazzello), how they started and how they got to be one of the biggest rock bands of the 20th century.
And while it does give the audience more insight into Mercury and the rest of the band than they might have had, one can’t help feeling that this is a sanitised version of events, framing the surviving members of the group is more positive light that what may have actually occurred.
Regardless, though this may be a watered down telling of the life Queen that doesn’t do anything different from other biopics, and tends to suffer from a lack of real conflict, it is a very entertaining film carried by the charisma and acting talent of Malek, and the camaraderie and chemistry he has with Lee, Hardy and Mazzello. The ancillary cast do a great job of supporting the main actors as well, with a strong focus on Lucy Boynton as Mary Austin, Mercury’s long-time girl-friend. There is also a funny and unrecognisable cameo from Mike Myers as a studio executive that you should watch out for.
The main cast do feel like a real band who have been together for years and the actors feed off each other’s energy, their witty banter bouncing off the others, at once very funny and natural. The way they are portrayed in the film, May, Hardy and Deacon seem like genuinely good guys, easy-going and down-to-earth with Mercury being the wilder, more eclectic member of the crew, but all of them with a fierce passion and loyalty to one another.
The main surprise of this movie is how funny it is. There is a large amount of humour to be found and more than once will you find yourself laughing out loud. Even when the band is fighting amongst each other, jokes abound which at once is a blessing and curse, as it does tend to reduce the impact of the discord between the members of the group.
But what is not a surprise is that the real star of the film are the iconic songs of Queen. The story of the band members themselves is interesting but it’s a real delight seeing the group working out the strains and riffs that make up their most famous songs. It’s hard not to sit there with a smile on your face, or stop your feet from tapping as one hit after the other start playing, engulfing the audience and challenging you not to get caught up in the hype. Most of the hits feature in the film, and I guarantee you will be singing along to them.
Honestly, even if the story of Bohemian Rhapsody had been total trash, it could have gotten by with the sheer awesome power of Queen’s classics. Hearing them one after the other makes you just want to stand up and cheer, so powerful are the ballads.
For a film that had some behind-the scene drama that ended with it losing its director (Brian Singer) while it was in production and have it finished by another (Dexter Fletcher), there is no sense of it being helmed by two different individuals. The directors’ weren’t as experimental as the film’s protagonists and didn’t take any risks or chances in their style and the end result is coherent (if safe), decently paced and a great show-case for Queen’s music and the talent of the cast.
It may not be the “true” story of the Freddie Mercury, but I found it a fun piece of entertainment, and it you like the music of Queen, you will undoubtedly enjoy this.
I give Bohemian Rhapsody an 8 out of 10.