The Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody has hit big at the box office, earning over $50 million in ticket sales in its opening weekend in U.S. and Canada, and another $72.5 million internationally. It’s clear that the public is flocking to the film, many walking away happily; however, critics aren’t as sure as the consumers, and I think rightly so.
The film’s commercial success makes sense. It is an entertaining couple of hours spent in the theater, from the Mike Meyers appearance as a bitter record exec to plenty features of recovered audio of Queen performances. The final concert sequence is enjoyable and teleporting, and Rami Malek’s (Mr. Robot) portrayal of Freddie Mercury is career-defining, awe-inspiring and maybe even Oscar-nomination-worthy.
The creators of the film know how to make an audience laugh and how to make them cry. So, why then are the critics complaining?
A lot of the errors may be linked to the film’s rocky path to the screen. The run-through of frontmen and directors, as well as the suffocating oversight of two of Queen’s original members ends up mangling the story of Freddie Mercury. The critics see the pacing issues, the underdevelopment of characters, an inability to nail down conflict, and an incapacity to capture Freddie Mercury’s greatness in script (Malek does a fine job on camera). The digitally generated crowd at Live-Aid is unconvincing at times, and sometimes the color-editing is unpleasantly muted and overbearingly bright. Humor is sometimes lacking when necessary and uninvited in times of serious melancholy. Not to mention the near-constant whisper of a logical brain saying, “there’s no way this happened like that.” The film is rampant with inconsistencies due to a clear lack of planning.
But at least the music is good.