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Bohemian Rhapsody Disappoints Despite Star's 'Pixie Dust'

Rami Malek is 'phenomenal,' the film not so much
By Arden Dier,  Newser Staff
Posted Nov 2, 2018 10:38 AM CDT

(Newser) – The trailer may have rocked you, but critics aren't sure you'll be floored by Bohemian Rhapsody itself. The Queen biopic, led by Rami Malek as Freddy Mercury, is a letdown for some critics, while others wonder if director Bryan Singer's sudden exit before the film's completion took a toll. Four views:

  • Leah Greenblatt at Entertainment Weekly writes that the film "has the distinct whiff of compromise and art by committee." Luckily, it has "an utterly unconventional star" in Malek, who "has the ineffable pixie dust the part requires." While there's an "unfortunate silliness … in the script's training-wheels approach to storytelling," Malek is "entrancing from the moment he steps on screen," Greenblatt writes.
  • He gives "the kind of phenomenal performance that can salvage a debatable film," agrees Colin Covert at the Minneapolis Star Tribune. It's just too bad the movie doesn’t measure up. It "feels like a promise largely unfulfilled," Covert writes, noting the predictable tale of triumph and tragedy "feels ill-suited to a story about a band that didn't follow formulas." A new director in the final production stage "couldn't have helped."

  • Ty Burr was likewise disappointed. "The movie doesn't have anything interesting to say," so "we're left with some great music, a central performance that never fully connects, and a number of spurious facts," he writes at the Boston Globe. Then again, "if you've ever banged your head on a car dashboard to the glorious operatic absurdity of that title song … you may not care."
  • The music, including "a nearly song-by-song recreation of the band's reunion show at Live Aid," is indeed a blessing, but it only briefly brightens "a remarkably bland movie … so hollowly, even comically formulaic," Jake Coyle writes at the AP. He saves Malek from abuse, though. "It's as if he didn't get the note about the half-hearted filmmaking going on around him," Coyle writes.
(Check your knowledge of Queen lyrics.)

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