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The Fight for Best Musical Film of 2018: “A Star is Born” vs. “Bohemian Rhapsody”

This fall, “A Star is Born” and “Bohemian Rhapsody” took theaters and are currently expected to be contenders during this year’s award season. During their opening weekends, “A Star is Born” made a total of $42.9 million, just a few million shy of Bohemian Rhapsody’s historic $43-45 million (numbers reported on www.altpress.com). While both movies left audiences speechless and singing on their way out of the movie theater, these films are not to be categorized as similar and each bring new perspectives of stardom to the table. That being said, their similar release times leave audiences questioning which film reigns supreme, and the debate (and my personal opinion) continues here:

“A Star is Born”:

“A Star is Born” follows the story of Jackson, a washed up alcoholic rock star, and Ally, a former waitress turned superstar. After watching Ally perform in a bar, Jackson takes her under his wing and the two fall in love and eventually get married. Their marriage, however, is anything but a fairy tale and Jackson struggles with addiction and newfound jealousy towards Ally’s fame. Both characters prove to be incredibly complex and carry heavy baggage; Jackson carries his addiction while Ally struggles with her marriage and business pressures. The movie concludes with Ally’s heartfelt performance to a then-dead Jackson, and the audience is left wondering what is next for the superstar as her fame is still only beginning.

What this movie delivered:

This movie had phenomenal acting, Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper provided a wholehearted performance to their characters. Jackson and Ally were flawed yet likable, which added complexity to their unhealthy relationship, illustrated best when Jackson used a few choice words regarding Ally’s beauty, or lack thereof, in a drunken fit of rage. It’s important to note that one of Ally’s insecurities is her appearance. This movie did not shy away from tackling the imagery of an addiction-stained relationship, but somehow still allowed Jackson’s character to redeem himself in the end leaving the audience, or at least me, not hating him completely. The music and soundtrack of this movie mirrored the plot points nearly perfectly as the movie played on, and the concert performances of both actors did not feel forced and were very professional.

What this movie missed:

Although the plot was intricate and complicated, the pacing of the plot missed the opportunity to be more driven and thrilling. The film’s runtime totaled to 2 hours and 16 minutes, but felt longer due to its slow start and repetitive scenes throughout the middle. How many times did we have to see Jackson crush up his pills before we understood the problem? In addition to the sometimes sluggish pace, Ally’s best friend, Ramon, was heavily featured in the beginning but was suddenly forgotten throughout the middle. Because he wasn’t re-utilized until the end, the audience was left without a payoff for following a character who may have had more potential than what the writers had given him.                                               Photo courtesy of the official “A Star is Born” Instagram page, @starisbornmovie 

Erin’s Rating: 8/10

“Bohemian Rhapsody”:

Bohemian Rhapsody followed the Freddie Mercury story from Queen’s formation until the Live Aid 1985 concert. This movie brought Queen’s rise towards fame to life, and illustrated the multiple ways Queen and Freddie Mercury pushed the edges of rock music and highlighted their amazing ability to entertain. In addition to the band’s story, the film explores Freddie Mercury’s relationships with his wife Mary, and men and women thereafter.

What this movie delivered:

This movie gave an extremely unique and entertaining insight to the production and story of Queen’s music, my favorite part being the production of the song “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Rami Malek certainly served as an amazing Freddie Mercury, and his ability to assume such a unique role showcased his acting talent brilliantly. This movie provides an escape from reality with its high level performances, music, and humor; the music provided a soundtrack everyone can enjoy.

What this movie missed:

Because this movie took place over a long period of time, certain elements of the movie seemed rushed, and because of the film’s need to cover multiple plot points, Freddie Mercury’s character isn’t explored as deeply as some may have wanted. Certain characters aren’t given substantial screen time, such as the other band members and Freddie’s newfound love interest at the end, and could have been utilized either less or more depending on the story the writer wanted to tell. There are also numerous factual errors in the film.                                                   Photo courtesy of the official “Bohemian Rhapsody” Instagram page, @bohemianrhapsodymovie

Erin’s rating: 7/10

Author’s Note:

Although I found “A Star is Born” to be the better film from a critical standpoint, I enjoyed and was entertained more while I watched “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Neither film should be downplayed though, and both gave me separate and memorable movie watching experiences; they were some of the best movies I have seen in a long time. Watch both and tell us what you think for yourself!

Erin Niemi

Cal Lutheran '20

Erin Niemi is a student at California Lutheran University and is pursuing her BA in Communication. When she isn't typing up a Her Campus article at a local coffee shop, you may find her at a concert, the beach or the movies! Erin is passionate about local news, beauty, science, sports, entertainment and music. She is also a huge Star Wars and MCU geek, and she will happily talk about either for hours if given the opportunity.
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