'Bohemian Rhapsody' delivers a good time, not a ball

Rami Malek leaves it all on the stage in "...

Posted: Nov 2, 2018 12:01 PM
Updated: Nov 2, 2018 12:01 PM

Rami Malek leaves it all on the stage in "Bohemian Rhapsody," a generally conventional biopic devoted to Freddie Mercury and Queen that captures the electricity of their music, without lending much new to the "A Star is Born"-esque elements of the drama. That aforementioned fictional film somewhat magnifies this fact-based one's limitations, but Malek's magnetic performance and the songs make for a worthwhile Queen tribute, if not a killer.

Introduced handling baggage at the airport, Freddie (his adopted name as the son of Indian immigrants) yearns for a life of stardom, and quickly offers his services to a local band playing college gigs. His pronounced teeth, he explains, give him extraordinary range, although simply as a practical matter, they take a little getting used to in terms of Malek modeling them.

Celebrities

Rami Malek

Freddie also rapidly enters into a romance with Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton), with whom he's extraordinarily happy, at least at first. But the band's rapid ascent brings with it considerable temptation, and the dawning realization that he's gay -- something Mary knew, at least as depicted here, even before he did.

Made with the cooperation of Mercury's former bandmates Brian May and Roger Taylor (who produced the music), "Bohemian Rhapsody" opens with the traditional 20th Century Fox fanfare being played on an electric guitar, which is a way-cool idea. Alas, director Bryan Singer has trouble bringing much innovation to the proceedings thereafter, somewhat episodically moving from one creative breakthrough to the next.

That produces some amusing moments, such as the negative reaction that the group receives when they seek to expand the rock palette with "Bohemian Rhapsody," prompting pushback from EMI Records chief Ray Foster (an unrecognizable Mike Myers), who insists that no radio station would play a six-minute single filled with nonsense words and meaningless phrases.

Written by Anthony McCarten (a veteran of the biographical "Darkest Hour" and "The Theory of Everything"), the movie fares less well tackling the interpersonal dynamics, and the corrosive influence of manager Paul Prenter ("Downton Abbey's" Allen Leech) -- damaging Freddie's relationship with the band and those close to him, despite his insistence that they're a family, whatever squabbles they might have.

It's also hard to avoid clichés in the depiction of Freddie's free-wheeling, hard-partying lifestyle. The rock-star-level excesses are surely abundant, but feel slightly sanitized in how they're presented, perhaps in pursuit of a less-restrictive PG-13 rating. If so, that seems misguided, given that the movie will likely skew to an audience old enough to remember singing along with "Don't Stop Me Now" at the time.

What that leaves, mainly, is Malek, and the "Mr. Robot" star goes beyond just an effective impersonation of Mercury's flamboyant stage antics -- although there's plenty of that -- to a richer, more intimate portrayal. When Freddie says, "I'm exactly the person I was meant to be" early on as his success grows, it's tempered by the realization that he died too young, a victim of the AIDS epidemic yet to come.

Taken strictly on its terms, "Bohemian Rhapsody" is a credible exercise in nostalgia, if not an especially inspired one. Viewed through that narrow prism, those who can name all the tunes ought to have a good time, if not, as the song goes, a ball.

"Bohemian Rhapsody" premieres Nov. 2 in the U.S. It's rated PG-13.

Mississippi Coronavirus Cases

Data is updated nightly.

Cases: 500709

Reported Deaths: 9977
CountyCasesDeaths
Harrison34312538
DeSoto32080403
Hinds31924627
Jackson24482379
Rankin21983390
Lee15530235
Madison14574280
Jones13838242
Forrest13447251
Lauderdale11985316
Lowndes11030188
Lamar10508135
Pearl River9503237
Lafayette8547139
Hancock7728126
Washington7422157
Oktibbeha7142131
Monroe6769176
Warren6682176
Pontotoc6659102
Neshoba6635206
Panola6520131
Marshall6462134
Bolivar6313148
Union602494
Pike5817152
Alcorn5667101
Lincoln5433135
George496779
Scott472698
Tippah469081
Prentiss466881
Leflore4657144
Itawamba4633105
Adams4586119
Tate4584110
Copiah448592
Simpson4445116
Yazoo443987
Wayne439772
Covington428794
Sunflower4237105
Marion4225108
Coahoma4159104
Leake408288
Newton381679
Grenada3706108
Stone359764
Tishomingo359692
Attala331489
Jasper329965
Winston314291
Clay307976
Chickasaw299667
Clarke292494
Calhoun279346
Holmes267887
Smith263850
Yalobusha233747
Tallahatchie227151
Greene219048
Walthall218763
Lawrence212440
Perry205356
Amite205155
Webster202746
Noxubee186640
Montgomery179656
Jefferson Davis171542
Carroll168838
Tunica159439
Benton148738
Kemper141941
Choctaw133426
Claiborne132437
Humphreys129238
Franklin120028
Quitman106428
Wilkinson105139
Jefferson94534
Sharkey64020
Issaquena1937
Unassigned00

Alabama Coronavirus Cases

Cases: 817054

Reported Deaths: 15320
CountyCasesDeaths
Jefferson1145501922
Mobile724601333
Madison52172694
Shelby37533348
Baldwin37192547
Tuscaloosa35044606
Montgomery34067734
Lee23195245
Calhoun22205476
Morgan20754376
Etowah19811497
Marshall18317302
Houston17345411
St. Clair15983339
Cullman15383292
Limestone15298198
Elmore15161284
Lauderdale14225294
Talladega13802276
DeKalb12622260
Walker11162369
Blount10162175
Autauga9954146
Jackson9844182
Coffee9195191
Dale8880185
Colbert8826201
Tallapoosa7071198
Escambia6764130
Covington6699183
Chilton6627161
Russell627959
Franklin5955105
Chambers5567142
Marion4982126
Dallas4936200
Clarke474583
Pike4722105
Geneva4566126
Winston4502103
Lawrence4296117
Bibb424086
Barbour356676
Marengo337789
Monroe331463
Randolph328763
Butler325696
Pickens315682
Henry311965
Hale311088
Cherokee301760
Fayette291879
Washington251351
Cleburne247360
Crenshaw244375
Clay241768
Macon232363
Lamar222047
Conecuh185853
Coosa179739
Lowndes174564
Wilcox167939
Bullock151644
Perry138340
Sumter132738
Greene126644
Choctaw88127
Out of AL00
Unassigned00
Tupelo
Clear
56° wxIcon
Hi: 72° Lo: 50°
Feels Like: 56°
Columbus
Clear
56° wxIcon
Hi: 74° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 56°
Oxford
Partly Cloudy
50° wxIcon
Hi: 69° Lo: 46°
Feels Like: 50°
Starkville
Partly Cloudy
56° wxIcon
Hi: 75° Lo: 52°
Feels Like: 56°
Clear cool and dry to begin your weekend, but both afternoons should be a little bit above what we expect for this time of year temperature wise. Rain chances begin to return late Sunday night, with at least two chances for storms over the next week, summer could be strong.
WTVA Radar
WTVA Temperatures
WTVA Severe Weather