First, we haven’t seen the movie or anything beyond this official trailer, released in time for Bohemian Rhapsody’s debut in this country Nov. 2.
Second, while we marveled at Freddie Mercury’s four-octave vocal range and stagecraft, we were never head-banging, synchronized clapping Radio GaGa fans. Perhaps it’s because that many people doing the same thing in unison frightens us for some reason.
Anyway, all that shatters our credentials as potential reviewers for this movie, which is getting hammered a little by the British music press and others for a number of reasons.
Most everyone seems to agree that Rami Malek (Mr. Robot, The Pacific) does an admirable job emulating the shimmying, lisping, hedonistic Mercury – real name Farrokh Bulsara – and actually lends his voice to the electronic mixmaster blending actor’s voices with the characters they play in biopics these days. So we seem to have moved beyond that lip-synching thing and that’s good.
But music enthusiasts and fans of the band hoping for something more say that while Malek took on a big chore after first-pick Sacha Baron Cohen left the project and director Dexter Fletcher stepped up to replace Bryan Singer, Bohemian Rhapsody lapses into the traditional “rock band struggles, achieves greatness, fights record company, gives in to excess, breaks up” model of glossy, mildly entertaining but hardly illuminating predecessors.
That two band members and its former manager co-produced the movie may explain why some of the band’s legendary excesses and the antics of its frontman may seem diminished in the finalized product.
One thing we know for certain: this one is certain to have a great soundtrack.