A rocking look at Queen from their formative days as students through their legendary performance at Live Aid.
Malek Is Magic;
The Final Scene Is Sweeping;
But The Script Lacks Depth.
This is the type of perfectly average film that will probably satisfy a lot of fans of its subject while leaving others yearning for much more to grab onto other than an amazing lead performance and killer music. Its paint-by-numbers script hits you with absolutely everything you’ve come to expect from a musical biopic playbook, sadly resolving itself to breaking no new ground while examining a band that made a habit out of doing so. But if all you’re looking for is a celebration of classic arena rock to stomp-stomp-clap along with, you will likely leave the theater very happy.
Feont and center is Rami Malek, given the impossible task of emulating Freddie Mercury, one of music’s all-time showmen. He does an absolutely wonderful job, making embodying a true artist and performer to his core look effortless. There are times you truly forget you are watching a movie, as Freddie himself has come back to life, a flamboyant spirit here to rock you from beyond the grave in the shallow age of holograms. Queen was Mercury’s band and this is Malek’s film, and he never lets you forget it for a second. I just wished the script had done him a bit more justice and given him more nuance and subtext for Malek to explore. When you’re bringing such an enigmatic, charismatic figure to life, you need give us more of what made him who he was, if you want the work to stand out. Freddie never would have settled for mediocrity.
I have always been a fan of Bryan Singer as a director, and he guides this along aptly, not getting in the way and getting what he needs out of his cast. The live sequences come off very well, with Singer having an obvious affection for the band and their list of chart-topping hits. The final scene, however, is a true spectacle in every sense of the word. Queen hadn’t played together in years until Live Aid came along, and the world was just as stunned by their performance as you will be watching its recreation. It is such an epic and awesome scene that those who dislike the film may forgive its misgivings and those already fawning over it will be moved to tears. I haven’t been to an IMAX screening in years, but the Live Aid finale made me wish I had paid extra to see that format. Maybe something that big and loud us the only way to truly capture the magic of a man who defined the term “larger than life.”