Randy's Review — 'Bohemian Rhapsody'

Friday, November 2, 2018

The rise of rock legends

The heavily anticipated film on the rise of legendary rock band Queen focuses primarily on the life of frontman Freddie Mercury (Rsmi Malek) — not his real name by the way — who employs the right place, right time philosophy to help transform a singerless club band into one of the most heralded rock acts of the 1970s and 1980s.

Born Farrokh Bulsara to a family who fled religious persecution to Great Britain, he works as a luggage handler at Heathrow Airport by day and spends his nights hitting the club music scene. One evening while attending a local concert featuring a favorite band, "Smile," Farrokh hits the jackpot when he meets the love of his life Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton), as well as Smile guitarist Brian May (Gwilym Lee) and drummer Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy) who are lamenting the departure of their lead singer following the show. Farrokh, calling himself Freddie, offers his services as lead singer. The rest as they say is history. Playing under the Smile banner, Freddie and another new band member, bassist John Deacon (Joseph Mazello), take the stage. Freddie immediately goes into flamboyant front man mode, catching the rest of the band off guard, but they quickly adjust. Picking up popularity in the local club scene across England, the guys decide — at Freddie's prompting — it's time to cut an album to take the next step. They sell their van to pay for the recording time. Impressed with their unique stylings, the band now known as Queen gets signed by EMI and so launches a career of ups and downs, management shifts and lots of drama.

The film chronicles, now Freddie Mercury's life, as he marries his true love only to have her leave as he begins to struggle with his sexuality. Broken hearted but still loving Freddie, Mary would remain a part of his life even after their departure, serving as his rock in times of trouble. As the band continued to rise to stadium concert sell outs and created a catalog of hits, Mercury's life would turn upside down as his party lifestyle and sexual promiscuity led to a temporary split with the band and discovery he contracted the AIDS virus. Broken and lost, Mercury reunited with the band, seeking forgiveness, and the group reformed for an opportunity to be a part of the worldwide Live Aid concert where they helped spark a burst in donations for starving Africans.

Excellent music, featuring anthems still popular today, long after Mercury's death from AIDS in 1991, and a brilliant performance by Malek — who really captures everything about one of the greatest frontmen in the history of rock — still a movie that gives you a peak at the story behind the rocky rise of Queen and its flamboyant lead singer.

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On a scale of 5 buckets, "Bohemian Rhapsody" rocks 3 1/2 tubs of well seasoned and slightly over-the-top popcorn. Enjoy the music and Rami Malek's stellar performance as the rise of Queen and rocky life of Freddie Mercury blend to an all-too-early end. But the soundtrack lives on. MPAA rating: PG-13. Running time: 2 hours, 14 minutes. This film was reviewed at Southpark 7 Theaters in Spencer.