Bohemian Rhapsody (2018)

Director: Bryan Singer

Cast: Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Gwilyn Lee, Ben Hardy, Joe Mazzello, Aidan Gillen, Tom Hollander, Mike Myers

Screenplay: Anthony McCarten

134 mins. Rated PG-13 for thematic elements, suggestive material, drug content and language.

IMDb Top 250: #136 (as of 1/11/2019)

 

There’s two major schools of thought one can go down with a biopic. The filmmaker can choose to hit all the major notes on the subject’s timeline, capturing important milestones from the life, or there’s the biopic event film, where one major event is focused on. When it comes to Freddie Mercury, a man larger than life, you really have to hit all the notes, or as many as you can fit.

Bohemian Rhapsody is the story of Queen, but in many ways, it’s the story of Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek, Papillon, TV’s Mr. Robot), an artist lost too soon. Freddie did not come from an artistic upbringing, and he found himself in the right place at the right time when Smile, a band he’d been interested in, needed to replace a lead singer. Brian May (Gwilyn Lee, The Tourist, The Last Witness) and Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy, Only the Brave, Mary Shelley), the remaining members of Smile, joined up with Mercury and, alongside John Deacon (Joe Mazzello, Jurassic Park, G.I. Joe: Retaliation), became Queen.

Bohemian Rhapsody is a more stylized, less historically accurate version of the Freddie Mercury and Queen story, but that doesn’t make it any less enjoyable. It’s led by an unstoppable turn from Malek, an actor who positively embodies Mercury’s many mannerisms with elegance, grace, and without parody. It’s a tough role to disappear in, and Malek proves to be up to the task.

It is Mercury’s relationship with Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton, Sing Street, Apostle) which proves to the most important of the film. Freddie is an eccentric man, to put it lightly, and he perhaps wants more than he can have, but he finds as the story progresses that he is unable to make up for his wants, and Mary’s emotional needs are struggling to be met. It’s a complex relationship brought forth quite nicely in the film.

The Queen portion of the film is undoubtedly the most fun, even if it isn’t 100% accurate. Seeing some of the craziness that went into some of the best music ever put to record is a wonder, and it doesn’t hurt that the film has a kickass soundtrack.

The major problem of the film is its direction, which sometimes feels a little VH1 and without some of the style that you might associate with a band like Queen. There’s something dated about the film, and I’m not referring to the actual events of the film.

Bohemian Rhapsody succeeds as entertainment, and that’s its Number 1 goal. I was smiling from ear to ear for most of the film, and that stayed with me for days afterward. It’s a hell of a fun film with a heart, but it’s made for Queen fans. Those of you that aren’t (and I imagine there’s at least three of you out there) will find little to enjoy outside the incredible performances.

 

4/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

 

For my review of Bryan Singer’s X-Men, click here.

For my review of Bryan Singer’s X2: X-Men United, click here.

For my review of Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Days of Future Past, click here.

For my review of Bryan Singer’s X-Men: Apocalypse, click here.

 

For more Almighty Goatman,

[Happy 20th Birthday!] Frankenstein (1994)

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Director: Kenneth Branagh

Cast: Robert De Niro, Kenneth Branagh, Tom Hulce, Helena Bonham Carter, Ian Holm, John Cleese, Aidan Quinn

Screenplay: Steph Lady, Frank Darabont

123 mins. Rated R for horrific images.

  • Academy Award Nominee: Best Makeup

 

After the commercial and critical success that was Francis Ford Coppola’s Dracula, the decision was made to revisit another gothic horror classic novel, Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. Coppola made the decision to pass directorial duties to the talented Shakespearian director/performer Kenneth Branagh (Henry V, Cinderella), something he would later in life admittedly regret, but we will get to that later.

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Frankenstein 1994 is closer to Shelley’s original novel than its 1931 counterpart, showing the story of Victor Frankenstein (played by Branagh) and his making of the iconic Creature (Robert De Niro, GoodFellas, Grudge Match), much to the tragedy of friend Henry Clerval (Tom Hulce, Amadeus, Jumper) and love Elizabeth (Helena Bonham Carter, Fight Club, Burton and Taylor).

Frankenstein suffers from a crisis of identity. On one hand, it is trying to be a gothic horror filled with a mixture of dark realism and fantastical surrealism; on the other hand, it is too much Shakespeare. Branagh seems to have difficulty playing to anything other than Shakespeare, with a series of over-the-top performances and exaggerated jubilation during the happy moments. I just couldn’t believe the events of this film as actually realistically happening.

De Niro dominates this film with his portrayal of The Creature. He studied stroke victims and other medical cases where speech patterns can be fractured in his line delivery. He becomes a tragic figure in cinema, a man who is ultimately an angry boy with a conflict of adult attraction and childhood longing for understanding. I could watch this movie just for Robert De Niro.

The rest of the cast really struggles here with giving viewers something to attach themselves to. Nobody can decide the tone and mood of a picture like this. I’m not saying the film is a complete failure, but it certainly has more detachers than strengths.

The screenplay is pretty strong here, delivered by Steph Lady (Doctor Dolittle) and Frank Darabont (TV’s The Walking Dead, The Shawshank Redemption). I enjoy the addition of unique steps in the creation of Frankenstein’s monster; this film has electric eels rather than the toted lighting. That being said, Frankenstein’s obsession with lighting in the beginning now makes less sense and has less impact on the actual movie.

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I would say that Frankenstein isn’t a worthless movie, but it has unnecessary conflict behind the scenes that reduces the tension in front of the camera. Coppola agreed that the film was scary and that Branagh completely mishandles the picture, and I can’t say my opinion differs.

 

2/5

-Kyle A. Goethe

 

For my review of Kenneth Branagh’s Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, click here.

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