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Movie review: ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ will rock you

Published November 20. 2018 12:32PM

“Bohemian Rhapsody” is not only one of the best rock music biopics, it provides a reassessment of the music of the British rock band Queen and the life of Freddie Mercury, lead singer and one of the founders of Queen.

The movie has a stunning lead star turn by Rami Malek as Mercury. Malek isn’t the only reason to see “Bohemian Rhapsody,” but he’s the main reason. Look for an Oscar lead actor nomination for Malek.

“Bohemian Rhapsody” follows the life of Freddie Mercury, born Farrokh Bulsara (1946-91), who was of Parsi descent and was born in Zanzibar, where he grew up, as well as in India, before immigrating when he was in his teens with his family to England.

Mercury formed Queen in 1970 with guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor. Mercury died in 1991 at age 45 because of complications from AIDS.

Queen’s hits include “Bohemian Rhapsody,” “Killer Queen,” “Somebody to Love,” “Crazy Little Thing Called Love,” “Another One Bites the Dust,” “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions.” Mercury had a solo career that included the hit, “Under Pressure,” a duet with David Bowie.

“Bohemian Rhapsody” relates the story of Mercury and Queen, leading up to the group’s performance in 1985 at Live Aid.

There are fictional changes for dramatic effect. The story is told in often telling and humorous detail. The ins and outs of the pop-rock music business of the 1970s and 1980s are depicted, including an almost unrecognizable turn by Mike Myers as Ray Foster, a fictional British record company executive.

“Bohemian Rhapsody” also tells the story of Mercury’s personal life, including his romantic alliances, gay and straight, especially that with his girlfriend Mary Austen (a radiantly charming Lucy Boynton, ”Murder on the Orient Express,” 2017).

His rapport with Queen bandmates, guitarist Brian May (an amazing Gwilym Lee, TV’s “Jamestown,” 2017), drummer Roger Taylor (a humorous Ben Hardy, “Only the Brave”), and bass player John Deacon (a superb Joseph Mazzello, “G.I. Joe: Retaliation,” 2013), is shown as collaborative but sometimes rancorous.

Without Malek (TV’s “Mr. Robot,” 2015-19), there would be no “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Malek is masterful as the flamboyant performer on stage. He’s note-perfect in his performance. Malek also conveys a contemplative Mercury in his quiet moments and times alone. You can read Malek’s body language as Mercury on stage and you can read Malek’s mind as Mercury offstage.

“Bohemian Rhapsody” uses the recordings of Queen, with Mercury singing the lead in a mix with Malek’s vocals and those of Canadian singer Marc Martel.

The screenplay is by Anthony McCarten (“Darkest Hour,” 2017; Oscar nominee, adapted screenplay, “The Theory of Everything,” 2014) from a story by McCarten and Peter Morgan (Netflix’s “The Crown,” 2016-present; Oscar nominee, adapted screenplay, “Frost-Nixon,” 2009; original screenplay, “The Queen,” 2007; “The Last King of Scotland,” 2006).

The cinematography by Director of Photography Newton Thomas Sigel (“X-Men” and sequels) is amazing, with terrific use of color appropriate to each scene. The editing by John Ottman (“X-Men” and sequels) is frequently startling.

During the filming of “Bohemian Rhapsody,” its director Bryan Singer (“X-Men,” 2000, and “X-Men” sequels) was fired and replaced by Dexter Fletcher (“Rocketman,” Elton John biopic, 2019). Fletcher directed 16 days of filming and oversaw post-production. The Director’s Guild of America determined credit for directing the movie should go to Singer.

“Bohemian Rhapsody” has the excitement of attending a rock concert, as pointed out by Michael “Movie Maven” Gontkosky. And it’s a rock concert by Queen, led by Freddie Mercury, a rock band and a concert performer unlike any other.

If you are a fan of Queen and Freddie Mercury, or a fan of rock music biopics, “Bohemian Rhapsody” is a must-see.

“Bohemian Rhapsody,” MPAA rated Rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13. Parents are urged to be cautious. Some material may be inappropriate for pre-teenagers.) for thematic elements, suggestive material, drug content and language; Genre: Run time: 2 hrs., 14 mins.; Genre: Biography, Drama, Music. Distributed by 20th Century Fox.

Credit Readers Anonymous: Queen guitarist Brian May composed the rock music arrangement of the 20th Century Fox fanfare heard over the studio logo at the beginning of “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Lady Gaga (Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta) based her stage name on the Queen song “Radio Ga Ga.”

Box Office: Nov. 16 weekend box office results were unavailable because of the early deadline for the Thanksgiving Day holiday.

Box Office, Nov. 9: “Dr. Seuss’ The Grinch” stole the box office, opening at No. 1 with $66 million, from “Bohemian Rhapsody,” dropping one place after its one-week run at No. 1 to No. 2 with $30.8 million, $100 million, two weeks.

3. “Overlord,” $10.1 million, opening. 4. “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” danced down two places, $9.5 million, $35.2 million. 5. “The Girl in the Spider’s Web,” $8 million, opening. 6. “A Star Is Born” dropped two places, $8 million, $178 million, six weeks. 7. “Nobody’s Fool” dropped four places, $6.5 million, $24.2 million, two weeks. 8. “Venom” dropped two places, $4.8 million, $206.2 million, six weeks. 9. “Halloween” paraded down four places, $3.8 million, $156.8 million, four weeks. 10. “The Hate U Give” stayed in place, $2 million, $26.7 million, six weeks.

Unreel, Nov. 23:

“Ralph Breaks the internet,” PG: Phil Johnston and Rich Moore direct the voice talents of John C. Reilly, Sarah Silverman, Gal Gadot, and Taraji P. Henson in the animated comedy. Six years after “Wreck-It Ralph,” a Wi-Fi router is discovered in the arcade, leading to a new adventure.

“Creed II,” PG-13: Steven Caple Jr. directs Michael B. Jordan, Tessa Thompson, Sylvester Stallone and Dolph Lundgren in the drama. Coached again by Rocky Balboa, Adonis Creed faces Viktor Drago, son of Ivan Drago.

“Robin Hood,” PG-13: Otto Bathurst directs Taron Egerton, Jamie Foxx, Ben Mendelsohn, and Eve Hewson in the adventure film. The legend of Robin Hood is retold.

Four Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes

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