Gearphoria Volume 7 Number 3

58 GEARPHORIA JAN/FEB 2019 MEDIA REVIEWS u TITLE: Bohemian Rhapsody DIRECTOR: Bryan Singer STUDIO: 20th Century Fox VERDICT: QUEEN REMAINS a band un- bound by genre. Yes, they are a rock band, but they have always been more than that — for better or worse. Their sound would never be earmarked as progressive by most, but the band had progres- sive tendencies whether it be Rube Goldberg-like sound experiments in the studio or the combination of themes (opera, hard rock, fla- menco) that would seem to ensure a square peg meets round hole scenario. Queen, however, made it work more often than not. The best of pop, disco, rock-and-roll, heavy metal… traces of all of these conventional labels can be found living in the album grooves of this remarkable band from London. When word circulated a few years back about a Freddie Mercury biopic, my interest was piqued. Freddie was, after all, the frontman and ringleader of this sonic circus which also included guitarist Brian May, bassist John Deacon and drummer Roger Taylor. I wasn’t too taken with the early name at- tached to the Mercury role — Sa- sha Baron Cohen… yes, Borat. Not that Cohen couldn’t pull it off, but it didn’t seem like the right fit. But of course, for most of their profes- sional lives, neither did Queen. Cohen eventually dropped out and Rami Malek stepped in. I had only heard of Malek through his in- volvement in the Twilight saga and my wife’s interest in that series of stories. Then, the first trailer hit… and I was sold. Bohemian Rhapsody isn’t as much of a biopic as it is a retelling of the band’s origin and rise to fame, with some notable (and well-publicized) Hollywood embellishments. One of my favorite parts of the movie was the studio sessions, showing the origins of songs like ‘We Will Rock You’, ‘Another One Bites The Dust’ and ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’. The movie spends a good amount of time showcasing how the band worked, which was a pleasant surprise. More of a surprise was Malek’s portrayal of Mercury, which was brilliant. He captured his flamboyance and fragil- ity flawlessly, and sometimes even in the same scene. Ultimately, the movie shows Freddie as a lonely genius, lost in a world of debauchery and longing for redemption… and companion- ship. His personal relationships — with both women and men (and even his family) — were complex and seemed to never end well… until closer to the end of his life. Yes, they do get into his contrac- tion of the AIDS virus and his early struggles as a result of the illness. The movie, however, ends with the band’s historic performance at Live Aid… in the summer of 1985. Mercury would live another six- plus years, until November 1991, and Queen would go on to record A Kind Of Magic (1986), The Miracle (1989) and a brilliant and mostly overlooked album — Innuendo — released in early 1991. I would have loved to have seen some coverage of this era — the final days… but alas it doesn’t diminish my enjoyment of the movie. Hats off to Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy and Joe Mazzello, who play May, Taylor and Deacon, respec- tively. Each does a wonderful job with their roles whether it’s Lee’s foil to Malek’s Mercury or Hardy’s comic relief. Bohemian Rhapsody is a well- crafted origin tale of one of the UK’s most important bands, and even though some liberties were taken with the timeline, character- izations and ‘how they met’ sce- narios, the portrayals and ultimate art that resulted are all there and highly enjoyable. The movie will be available digi- tally January 22, and on physical media February 12. G The story of Queen is enjoyable... and altered