Every now and then you hear about an upcoming movie that has ended up in development hell (a series of unfortunate events that prevent a movie from reaching completion). While most movies that end up in development hell never end up seeing the light of day, Hollywood media seems to forget that the ones who do end up making it to the theater ever even experienced this lack of luck. That’s interesting because it has become quite clear that a rocky preproduction period for a movie almost always leads to an inferior final product. The latest case of this is the new Queen biopic, Bohemian Rhapsody. Bohemian Rhapsody is by no means bad, but it is a very bland movie that doesn’t show too many scars from its troubled production but also craves to be something more than it is.
Bohemian Rhapsody follows the life of Freddie Mercury (portrayed in the movie by Rami Malek) as he transforms from naïve but ambitious immigrant into one of the biggest celebrities of all-time. As a whole the movie feels much like a greatest hits album as it showcases the creation of all of Queen’s most iconic songs as well as how all of their biggest live performances happened but without any sort of real connective tissue. The only attempt that this movie makes at finding a narrative strand that can keep it all together is Freddie’s love life, and that ultimately comes across as awkward and half-baked. This particular storyline really could have benefitted from an R rating, but instead the movie beats around the bush in order to make this movie as family friendly as possible.
Stylistically this movie isn’t anything special. It’s loud and isn’t afraid to use CGI to get some interesting camera angles, which makes it seem like a more restrained version of whatever Michael Bay does nowadays. At the very least, though, the movie’s visual style was able to survive director Bryan Singer’s firing. The only remnants of the incident that still come out in the movie are some awkward party sequences that instantly recall the sexual misconduct allegations surrounding him. It’s odd that these scenes were not toned down.
Rami Malek’s much anticipated performance as Freddie Mercury is fine. The physical transformation that he goes through is quite impressive, as Hollywood has once again seemingly brought somebody back from the dead. However, Malek doesn’t fare so well in the singing scenes where it is quite clear that there are some postproduction enhancements going on. That’s a shame because the biggest moments in the movie revolve around Freddie singing.
Bohemian Rhapsody is only just able to survive its journey through development hell in tact.