Queen. (The band, not the monarch.) Tailors of the triumphantly sonic rock sound stemming from their inception in the early seventies that so many of the second-stringers coming behind them found to be a band not only uncopiable but still mythical in many ways. Subtle yet dynamic, alternatively humble and bold, honest but still occasionally playful in their sound they used their jazz/blues/classical and God knows whatever other musical roots to bring rock to it’s theatrical zenith.
But this isn’t an assessment of the band but rather the recent movie so let’s go…
I was initially stunned by the resemblance between the actors and the original Queen members (Hey! That guy looks just like Brian May!) for instance. This really helped supply the effect that I was now immersed in Queen-World but the movie as a whole has an annoying tendency to skip this initial platform of credibility and throw away a beautiful opportunity to establish and recognize the tightness the members of the group used to establish themselves as one thing, irreversible and continuous.
When I plunked myself in my seat I was happily expecting a flick about Queen but it quickly became apparent that I was watching a biopic centered around lead singer Freddie Mercury with only occasional references to why we listened to Queen in the first place.
Here’s where I started losing interest.
If your interested in Freddy Mercury himself then your in business. This film dives into his personal life highlighting his personal, conflicted relationships eventually leading to the near destruction of the thing he loved most, writing songs and performing them with the guys who took him in as a brother and stood by Freddy even when his ego got the better of him. While this movie runs two hours and fifteen minutes, plenty of time to give you a sense of Queen’s overall talent, little of that time was used to establish the most critical portion of Freddy’s life. While I admit that Elvis Presley would have been a famous talent without the benefit of the innovative guitarist Scotty Moore, it sure didn’t hurt to have him around. Would Freddy’s superb talent ever been known if it wasn’t for the utterly unique sound of Brian May’s laser-like guitar, Roger Taylor’s huge pioneering drum effect and Fred Deacon’s whizbang bass (as well as songwriting from these three)?
That’s what I was expecting and got nothing but a few glimpses as to why Queen worked at all. Where I was expecting light, I got darkness, I don’t mean that metaphorically though. It seemed that half this venture was deliberately filmed in dimly lit locations like an Orson Welles picture.
The final scene of the movie actually delivers the sound and power that Queen is famous for but why did I have to wait two hours for delivery? Given that the musical advisors were original members Roger Taylor and Brian May, it’s mystifying they’d let this great music be tamped down, volumeless where volume was needed and unspectactular when spectactulerness was so easily within grasp. When I mentioned this to my daughter she agreed speculating that putting Queen’s stunning sound out there at the movie’s early points would’ve lessened the effect at the end. She’s probably right but she’s also seventeen years old and wasn’t available to hear this group in it’s proper time.
I was. We both gave Bohemian Rhapsody 2 1/2 stars out of four. Here’s two original promo videos that Queen provided in the seventies. I’ll ask you to please watch so you can see what I’m driving at here and don’t forget to hit on MAMEMAGAZINE.COM for more music-oriented content and as always, thanks for reading…