Tag Archives: Queen

Bohemian Rhapsody: Is This The Real Life, Is This Just Fantasy?

So I watched the Freddie Mercury biopic Bohemian Rhapsody a couple of days back. I wrote this one not long after watching the film but didn’t publish it until now as I didn’t want to break my Red Dead Redemption II saga of articles (they’ve been going on for six weeks or so). But now that damn long awaited cowboy game is released, I can resume (almost) normal service.

So I’m a huge and long time Queen fan. I grew up with their music and when Freddie died back in 1991, the world music lost one of its greatest. There can never, nor will there ever be anyone quite like Freddie Mercury. He was so unique that the word “unique” doesn’t do him justice. He was able to do things with his voice that no one else on the planet could manage and that’s not just personal opinion from a fan, its now scientific fact. But before I get into my feelings about the film, a quick history lesson of how this film came to be.

The History

This film has had a long and troubled production with it being originally announced in 2010. Back then, Sacha Baron Cohen was signed up to play Freddie. But Baron Cohen left the project in 2013 due to “creative differences”. Partly due to the fact he felt that the producers and remaining members of Queen wanted to make a family friendly picture while Baron Cohen wanted to make a more adult look at Freddie going deeper into his sexuality and lifestyle, a more honest biopic of you will. A more recent story has come out suggesting that Baron Cohen wasn’t taking the film seriously.

Bohemian Rhapsody Movie Sacha Baron Cohen

Then in 2013 Ben Whishaw was being tipped to play Freddie while Dexter Fletcher would be in the director’s chair. Both Whishaw and Fletcher left the project by 2014 with both of them citing “creative differences” (the go to excuse for leaving a film project). In 2015 it was suggested that Sacha Baron Cohen could be back as Freddie but that was proven to be false information. For a while, the film was stuck in development hell with numerous writers, directors and actors all hitting the rumor mill over the next few months.

In 2015 the film was confirmed to be back on track and a title was revealed for the first time – Bohemian Rhapsody. All new scripts had been written with Brain May and Roger Taylor attached as consultants and producers. Then in 2016 film was suddenly a-go when Rami Malek was announced to star as Freddie Mercury. Pre-production on the film began in early 2017 and filming started on September 2017 with Bryan Singer as director. Things were going well until filming ground to a halt when Singer stopped showing up to film. Exactly why this is open to speculation, one source says Bryan Singer left the film due to an illness in his family but another suggests that Singer’s poor behaviour on set got him removed from the film. Either way, the production lost it’s director with around two or three weeks still left of filming to do. So re-enter Dexter Fletcher to finish the film who was originally attached to the project back in 2013.

Bohemian Rhapsody Movie Rami Malek.jpg

Now with the film having two directors, that caused a problem as rules state only one director can be given credit. It was announced earlier this year that despite his leaving/firing that Bryan Singer would still be credited as director as he did shoot most of the film before Dexter Fletcher stepped in to finish it up.

So then finally after eight years in film development hell, the movie was released on the 24th of October here in the U.K. while our American cousins will have to wait until the 2nd of November. And I was there opening day wearing my Freddie Mercury shirt, with my mom to see this long troubled film. But was it worth it? A quick synopsis before I offer my view…

Queen Shirt

The Film

It opens up with Freddie (Rami Malek) preening himself, trimming his moustache just before heading out on stage for the famous Live Aid gig from 1985. It then jumps back to the early 70s with a teenage Freddie working at Heathrow Airport as a baggage handler where he puts up with racial abuse for being a “pakki”. Young Freddie dreams of bigger things and while at a bar enjoying a pint, he listens to the student band on stage, a band called Smile. With Brain May (Gwilym Lee) and Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy) as the lead guitarist and drummer respectively. When the lead singer leaves the band to join Humpy Bong (a folk band founded by former Bee Gees drummer Colin Petersen) Freddie steps in to offer his vocal talent, this is when he first meets Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton).

Bohemian Rhapsody Movie Freddie And Mary

The band then hire bassist John Deacon (Joseph Mazzello) and change their name to Queen. They record their first album for EMI and perform their first live gig as Queen. Freddie and Mary grow closer and become lovers as the band also grow from student gigs to tours. Queen begin become a little tired of performing the same type of music over and over so begin to experiment and from that experimentation comes their most famous song, Bohemian Rhapsody. EMI executive Ray Foster (Mike Myers) hates the song and refuses to allow Queen to release it. So the band walk out and take the song elsewhere getting it played by Kenny Everett (Dickie Beau) on his radio show. The song is a smash hit and Queen become huge.

Bohemian Rhapsody Movie Recording.jpg

While out on tour in Rio Freddie begins to show an interest in men and when he returns home he confesses to his then girlfriend that he is bisexual. The pair split but remain very close friends. As Queen begin to rise in the world of music, Freddie’s life begins to unravel. Keeping his sexuality from the press despite continual intrusion. Freddie begins to find comfort in drink, drugs and sex with anyone who shows him even the slightest bit of interest. Cracks begin to show in the band as Freddie grows increasingly out of control and he keeps turning up late for recording sessions often drunk, high or both after a heavy night of partying. Eventually, Freddie feels stifled by Queen and decides to go it alone by signing a solo contract behind the back of the other members at the suggestion of his manager. Queen (unofficially) split and go their separate ways.

Freddie moves to Germany to work on his solo music. After a visit from Mary who gives him a few home truths, Freddie returns home after sacking his backstabbing manager and meets up with the other members of Queen to ask them to reform so they can do the Live Aid gig as a way to say goodbye properly. They agree and the film ends with an amazing recreation of (almost) the entire Queen set from Live Aid 1985 and they cement themselves into rock music history.

Bohemian Rhapsody Movie Poster Freddie.jpg

My View

I’m a huge Queen fan so obviously there is going to be a little bias in my view. The film is utterly brilliant. Now its not perfect and hardcore Queen fans (like me) will spot several flaws especially if you have seen as many Queen documentaries and interviews as I have. This is a biopic and like other biopics certain aspects are exaggerated, changed and twisted to make the film more entertaining. What I’m trying to say is that not everything in this film is 100% factual. But creative licence has to be expected with these kinds of movies, they are not documentaries, they are films. I’m not going to concentrate on the half truths in the film but will highlight a few issues.

Bohemian Rhapsody Movie Poster Freddie and Brian.jpg

First, the film is rated 12A here in the U.K. and if you know anything about the life of Freddie Mercury then you’d know aspects would’ve had to have been diluted to fit that 12A rating… and diluted the film is. Things like the drug usage is not explicitly shown and only hinted at, Freddie’s bisexuality is lightly shown with a couple of gay kisses and that’s about it. But I didn’t go the film to watch gay sex, I went to watch a film about Freddie’s life and that is what I got. There is a scene where Freddie throws one of his infamous lavish parties and even that is watered down from reality. The real parties are legendary in the world of music with Freddie having naked dwarfs (sorry, little people) with trays of cocaine on their head for the guests, performers biting the heads off live chickens, rampant sex and so much more. The party scene in the film shows none of this though and is not as wild as the real things were. Freddie led such an overtly hedonistic lifestyle that even the Roman Emperor Caligula would have suggested that Freddie tone it down a bit. Plus the film shows Brian May not enjoying the party when in reality, he was one of the people who would suggest them and enjoyed himself as much as Freddie.

Second, I didn’t like when the film ended. Note I didn’t say “how” it ended but “when”. To be honest, the recreation of the Live Aid set is stunning, those last ten minutes or so of the flick that show an abridged version of Queen’s now legendary performance is jaw dropping. But there is so much more to the story of Queen after Live Aid that is not shown in the film. Live Aid was their turning point, they had all but broken up and were thought of as a washed up band (especially in America) with nothing left. After that gig, Queen went on to become world dominating and there is so much more story to be told about their music. Plus there is the relationship between Freddie and his lover Jim Hutton to explore which is only lightly touched on in the film, his continual relationship with Mary Austin to the point where Freddie became godfather to her son. And of course there is the death of the man himself and how he kept recording despite the fact he was in so much pain and discomfort right to the very end. There really is so much more story to be told about Freddie/Queen and this really feels like only half a film. Its a fantastic half a film, but still only half of the story. I’ve seen a tone of these biopics and always felt satisfied at the end but this film left a bit of a gap and needs a sequel, there must be a Bohemian Rhapsody 2. Just having a bit of text at the end of the film pointing out Freddie died of bronchial pneumonia resulting from AIDS didn’t really cut it for me.

Bohemian Rhapsody Movie Live Aid

That’s about it for the negatives really. On to the positives.

The cast have to be addressed here. Of course Rami Malek as Freddie Mercury is amazing. He has the voice, the mannerisms and everything. There are times during the Live Aid finale when a few long shots are shown and I’m not sure of it was Rami or Freddie himself using actual Live Aid footage. In fact, I’m pretty sure I spotted a cheeky cameo from the real Freddie during one shot. The strutting on stage the arm waving/air punching, Rami has it all nailed. I said earlier how there can never, nor will there ever be anyone quite like Freddie Mercury and I stand by that – but Rami Malek is pretty bloody close. I’d like to see a side by side comparison between the actual Live Aid footage and the end scene in this film to see just how close it all was. Everyone is talking about Rami Malek’s performance and rightly so to as its (almost) flawless, but I think he’s already getting enough praise. He deserves every ounce of it too and any recognition or awards he may get along the way. But there are other equally as great performances too.

Bohemian Rhapsody Movie Brian May.jpg

The other three band members of Brian May, Roger Taylor and John Deacon played by Gwilym Lee, Ben Hardy and Joseph Mazzello respectively are all brilliant. Four great actors coming together to reunite four of the best musicians in music. After Rami Malek, Gwilym Lee’s Brian May was the stand out performance for me though. Brian in the film is just as spot on as Freddie is and I just feel that Rami Malek (as deserving as he is) will overshadow the other actors here. Gwilym Lee deserves just as much praise. Then there is Lucy Boynton as Mary Austin, Freddie’s former girlfriend and long time friend. Yet another strong performance that I feel will be overlooked. You really feel her pain as she loses her boyfriend but refuses to give up on him at the same time.

But my absolute favorite bit of casting? Its really just a glorified cameo from Mike Myers as Ray Foster the EMI records executive who turns down the Bohemian Rhapsody record after listening to it. Now I can’t remember the exact quote, but after hearing the record he says something along the lines of, “Teenagers won’t be banging their heads to this”. Seeing as it was Mike Myers who introduced Bohemian Rhapsody to a new legion of fans with his movie Wanye’s World in 1992 and helped get the song to the top of the charts seventeen years after its original release, its a great in-joke…

As a quick aside. Freddie actually got to see the above scene before he died in 1991 as the film was completed before his passing and released a few months following his death. Brain May has said that Freddie loved the scene and gave Mike Myers his blessing to use the song too. So Mike Myers being the guy to turn the song down its a fitting tribute as well as an ironic joke.

I’m sorry but I must break out an overused cliché here. The film is a roller-coaster of emotions. There are funny and light hearted moments that will leave you with a smile on your face. Such as the band discussing the merits of the Roger Taylor penned “joke” song I’m in Love with My Car or Freddie continually telling Roger to go higher and higher on the “Galileo!” when recording Bohemian Rhapsody. Then you’ll have tears in your eyes during the more heavier scenes. Two such scenes that spring to mind are the one where Freddie finally comes out as bisexual to Mary while the song Love of My Life plays in the background, a song Freddie wrote specifically for Mary. The scene features some sterling acting from both Rami Malek and Lucy Boynton. Then later, toward the end of the film another scene has Freddie attend a hospital where he is told he has AIDS. Such a powerful scene with very little dialogue (I think there’s only one line) but the powerful and emotive Who Wants To Live Forever plays in the background. Honestly, I was welling up.

Yeah of course it goes without saying that the film’s soundtrack is sublime… but I’m going to say it anyway. Its Queen, of course its a brilliant soundtrack. It was great to hear some of the very early stuff such as Keep Yourself Alive, one of my favourite early Queen songs that doesn’t get the recognition it deserves. Seeing how some songs were slowly created and evolved such as Brian May slowly building We Will Rock You with the iconic foot stomps and claps was joyful.

Bohemian Rhapsody Movie We Will Rock You

As for the Live Aid finale. The hairs on the back of my neck were standing up. I have very strong memories of watching Live Aid live back in 85. Both myself and my mom sat there staring at the T.V. in awe while Queen did their thing. I think I was only about 8 or 9 at the time but that twenty odd minutes watching Queen at Wembley Stadium left a lasting impression on me. Then there I was, a now 42 year old man sitting in the cinema with my mom next to me reliving that same experience 33 years later. Honestly, one of the best moments I have witnessed on the big screen. Then as Queen were in the midst of belting out Radio Ga Ga, mom leaned over to me and simply said “it has to be done.” and I knew exactly what she meant, so up went the arms and we both clapped along to the chorus. So there were me and mom doing the Radio Ga Ga bit and as I looked around, other people in the cinema joined in. It was almost like being there live, a genuinely amazing experience. The seats in the cinema gently rocked back and forth as people tapped/stomped their feet and clapped along. A special thanks to my mom for reliving a childhood memory with me.

The re-enactment of Live Aid at the end of this film is stunning and clearly done with passion, worth the price of the ticket alone.

Bohemian Rhapsody Movie Radio Ga Ga.jpg

If you’re a Queen fan, of course you are going to watch the film and you’ll enjoy it too. Just remember that it is a biopic and some elements have been altered to make the film more interesting. Its not a factual documentary but its still telling the story of the greatest front-man ever and one of the greatest rock bands to ever grace a stage. So then, is This The Real Life, Is This Just Fantasy? It’s a bit of both really, but more real life than fantasy. If you’re not a Queen fan, I still suggest checking the film out. Its funny, its emotional and above all, it rocks! You never know, you might just end up becoming a fan of Queen yourself.

A cracking film with laughs, tears, awesome music and some truly amazing performances from the entire cast. It Will Rock You!

Bohemian Rhapsody Movie Live Aid Crowd

We just need a sequel to finish the story up.

“I pity your wife if you think six minutes is forever.”

– Freddie Mercury

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Queen Biopic Finally Gets A ‘Breakthru’

Its been a long time coming, with several pre-production problems – but the Queen/Freddie Mercury biopic is going ahead. Officially announced on the Queen website, the movie will be called Bohemian Rhapsody and the project is so far along that pre-production work begins next week with filming starting in September!

Queen Band

Queen were one of the greatest rock bands of the 80s and their music still continues to inspire to this day.  The film is set to show the band’s early years, rise to fame and the almost break up in 1985 before the memorising Live Aid gig that eventually catapulted Queen back into the limelight once more. But who will be playing the key roles?

FreddieMalek

Well flamboyant front-man, Freddie Mercury will be played by Rami Malek who was recently seen in Mr Robot. As for the rest of the band? Well they have yet to be announced, but Queen Online has promised to make more announcements soon.

The film will be directed by Bryan Singer – known for The Usual Suspects and several of the X-Men movies. With Roger Taylor and Brain May on board as the film’s executive music producers. Roger and Brain have said on Queen Online that…

“Rami has great presence and he’s utterly dedicated to the project. He’s completely  living and breathing Freddie already, which is wonderful.”

But there’s more. Fancy trying out for a role as an extra in the movie? Well you can…

Queen Castcall

Is your hair 70s/80s enough to apply?

No release date has been announced yet – but stay tuned to the official Queen website for more news. After all the false starts and breakdowns with the project over the last few years, lets hope everyone involved can all share One Vision.

Freddie

 

There can be only one! Part III

That was a rough journey.
From imaginative and unique cult classic to a big lump of excrement with nothing of any real worth in between.

High

I honestly can not think of a worse, most mistreated movie franchise.
Don’t get me wrong, there are some truly horrible movie franchises out there with some bad sequels along the way. But even some of the worst have one or two films in the series that are okay at best. Highlander has nothing.
The first film was great, yet everything that came after it was terrible.

Its a big and popular franchise too, there is much more than the films I mentioned here.
Highlander is a franchise that has spawned not only a film series. It has three TV spin offs, one animated and two live action. Several comic books and even a novel series with a fair amount of books. Plus it spawned two video games.
Yet despite it being a big franchise, its treated with no respect at all.

Now I can only speak of the franchise from the point of which I have been exposed too it.
I did say I tried the first TV spin off and didn’t like it much.
I remember the animated show too that was aimed at kids…yes, this franchise that revolves around immortals having thier heads cut off had a kids cartoon.
I did watch a couple of episodes from the other TV spin off, The Raven…that was unpleasant.
I have not read the comics nor any of the novels.
I did play both of the games and they were also terrible.

So I have not been exposed to EVERYTHING this franchise has to offer, but I have witnessed my fair share and can safely say there is not a worse franchise out there.

duo

But forget everything that Highlander has to offer. I did say at the start I only wanted to concentrate on the movies themselves. So here is my quick round up of the film franchise.

Highlander: This film is far from perfect and I have a few problems with it. But the characters and mythos created within this film is highly unique, plus it had a great story structure jumping back and forth in time showing Connor through the centuries. Then there is something I’m going to cover in a little more detail later, the soundtrack by Queen.

Highlander II: The Quickening: This film is shockingly bad. Everything set up previously, everything we have learned is thrown out and replaced with aliens and protecting the ozone layer. The plot makes no sense, something I will cover later. The story is pointless and the characters are forgettable.

Highlander III: The Sorcerer: As many claim and an opinion I will mirror. This one is not as bad as the previous film…but its still not a good film anyway. It rightfully ignores the last film and goes its own way. Of all the sequels, this is the only one that is in some way watchable.

Highlander: Endgame: Interesting concept, very poor execution with some asinine writing. I think this one is more for fans of the TV spin off than fans of the original film.

Highlander: The Search For Vengeance: Not seen it yet and I honestly have no urge to either.

Highlander: The Source: A sequel worse than Highlander II. Nuff said.

Really after all I have seen from what this franchise has to offer. I am convinced that there SHOULD be only one.

Now I’m not trying to say this should never had become a franchise, just that it deserved to had become a better franchise.
When the whole mantra and coda of the first film is, “there can be only one” and how the film ends like it does…you can’t really make sequels can you?

Here’s an idea or two off the top of my head:

Ramírez and The Kurgan seemed to know each other in the first film. There’s a story right there. A prequel covering their discovery of immortality and their previous run ins.

A film that takes place along side the original that covers the other immortals.

How about the literal centuries of years Connor has lived and how much he must have seen and done?

There are a few ideas that maintain the mythos of the original film and don’t involve aliens from Zeist or ozone layer protectors.
There are literally centuries worth of stories and characters they could have explored.

I wanted to point out the many, many problems Highlander II has as a sequel, and here I go.

Highlander II: The Plot Holes & Inconsistencies:

1: The series is called Highlander because the main character, Connor is originally from the highlands of Scotland…not an alien from planet Zeist. Highlander, there is a clue in the title.

2: Ramírez dies in the first film and is back in this sequel with no explanation as to how other than Ramírez telling Connor if he need him just call out his name. This negates the impact and importance of his death in the first film.

3: Katana’s plan even bothering to kill Connor when he was an old man makes no sense. Connor is literally days away from dying as he is now mortal, so sending back his two cronies to try and kill Connor is pointless. All he had to do was just wait and Connor would be dead soon enough. It is only because Katana did send his minions to Earth that made Connor immortal again.

4: Ramírez and Connor are still called Ramírez and Connor on Zeist. Popular alien names are they? Then to add even more insult, Connor is still called MacLeod, a name of Scottish origin.

5: Katana in the film brings up the fact they are forbidden to fight on holly ground. A rule established in the first film. But they are aliens from another planet, why is Earth holy ground forbidden to them?

6: Several times in the film, Katana makes reference to Earth pop culture. The Wizard Of Oz just to name one…they have the Wizard Of Oz (and other Earth based culture) on Zeist then?

7: Ramírez and Connor had never met until the events of the first film and this is made very clear, yet according to this film they have known each other for centuries.

There are more problems, so many more but to be honest I need to move on from this disaster.
But before I leave Highlander II behind, I just want to mention this blurb on the back of the box…

Quote

In case you can’t quite make that out it claims that “Highlander 2: the Quickening is the smartest sci-fi thriller since Blade Runner”
I’ll just leave that there.

art

I’ve been thinking of a way to display how far this franchise has fallen and I think I may have it and also managing to segue into something I really want to talk about, that soundtrack.

Okay, so the following is Princes Of The Universe performed by Queen taken from Highlander:

A great song taken from the soundtrack that still sounds awesome today. Note the strength in Freddie’s voice, the music is brash but still melodic. The lyrics are meaningful to the characters in the film and the plot too.
When you understand Highlander as a film and listen to the music, you realise that the music is a massively important part of the storytelling.

Now, here is that same song performed by somebody else (don’t care who, does it matter?) taken from Highlander: The Source:

Yeah terrible is it not?
That auditory molestation of your ears describes perfectly what has happened to this franchise far better than I ever could with words. Its bland, tasteless, banal and insulting. From Queen to whatever that ‘noise’ was, I can add nothing more.

But before I finish up. I would like to talk about the amazing soundtrack from the original film. As superb as it is, did you know there never was a released Highlander soundtrack album?
Many films will eventually have a soundtrack released for it, but not Highlander despite it being one of the most loved movie soundtracks ever.

Now I’m not being 100% fair here. While it is true that Highlander the soundtrack was never released. Queen did release an album called; A Kind Of Magic that was pretty much all the music from Highlander…pretty much as Queen’s version of the Frank Sinatra classic; New York, New York is not there.

queen

But still the soundtrack to Highlander was/is an excellent and much loved soundtrack.
Each of the main songs has been written specifically for the movie. The lyrics to the songs actually tell a condensed version of what the film is about. Due to this, there is a lot of emotion that can be taken from both the film and music. Its a beautiful melding of movie and music that is unmatched.

For instance; Connor saying goodbye to the love of his life, Heather as she grows old and dies all while Who Wants To Live Forever plays in the background is a truly great scene.
Or The Kurgan blasting; Gimme The Prize out of the tape player in his car while out hunting for immortals to kill.
The opening of the film during the wresting match that Connor is watching that reflects on the fights and battles he has seen over the years. All while; Princes Of The Universe is playing.
Brenda sitting on the bar as the mysterious Connor buys her a drink with; One Year Of Love playing in the background which says a lot about Connor’s relationships upto that point and even foreshadows their relationship for later in the film.

The soundtrack by Queen is pure genius with amazing music and lyrics that are just as much a part of the movie as everything else is.
Highlander is a great film, far from perfect. Yet the soundtrack is just that…perfect.

This franchise tarnished all of that.
The whole series should have taken The Kurgan’s advice: “It’s better to burn out than to fade away.

Yeah, there can be only one.

Connor2

Connor MacLeod:
For you, my bonny Heather: Happy birthday. And you, Juan Ramírez: Take care of her, you overdressed haggis.

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