Bohemian Rhapsody charts the meteoric rise of iconic British rock band Queen, with a specific emphasis placed on lead singer Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek) and his ongoing struggles to embrace his sexuality. Filmmaker Bryan Singer, working from Anthony McCarten, has infused Bohemian Rhapsody with an almost comically generic and by-the-numbers feel, as the movie opens with Queen about to take the stage at 1985’s massive Live Aid concert and immediately flashes back to Mercury’s early days as a fledgling musician – with the bulk of the movie’s midsection following a pattern of music-based sequences and a continuing exploration of Freddie’s personal life. And although the former remains a consistent highlight (eg the band’s efforts at cobbling together the title track is certainly as engaging and interesting as one might’ve hoped), the latter ultimately dominates so much of the movie’s palpably overlong running time that it can’t help but adopt a progressively repetitive (and somewhat tedious) feel. Malek’s decent yet mostly unconvincing performance – the actor, saddled with a constantly-distracting set of fake teeth, never quite disappears into the role – only compounds the movie’s sporadically-compelling-yet-generally-uninvolving atmosphere, which is a shame, really, given the proliferation of appealing elements strewn throughout the picture’s 134 minutes (including a captivating finale set at that Live Aid show).
**1/2 out of ****