Goodness me! - but hasn't this had a chequered history! I'll say straight out that some of my misgivings (based entirely on early mixed reviews) were largely unfounded - and I liked this more than I was expecting to.
Btw: I'd better add that I've been a 'Queen' fan ever since first becoming aware of them.
There was the matter of Sacha Baron Cohen pulling out over 'creative differences' with original Queen members Brian May and Roger Taylor (who remain as Executive Producers of this final product) , Cohen wanting to make it 'edgier' and focussing on Freddy Mercury's story, the other two wishing it to be more encompassing of the whole group.
Then there was the matter of director Bryan Singer being sacked over his rows, particularly with Rami Malek (playing Freddy M., of course), and Dexter Fletcher taking over for the final couple of weeks' shooting. It's Singer who actually gets the sole directing on-screen credit. There are also, just to mention in passing, the sexual misconduct allegations against Singer still unresolved - nothing to do with this present film.
Some are complaining that this film version has been sanitised with regard to Mercury's sexual proclivities, so I was surprised that even though there's nothing explicit shown (just a couple of full-on male-male kisses, though facially obscured), his sexuality wasn't in any sense skated over or downplayed. Even the dullest viewer would have picked up the inferences - the first being when looks are exchanged between him and a bear of a guy going into the men's toilets, leaving the former with a hankering look on his face, as though bewildered on discovering his feelings for the first time in that direction. Later on Freddy M. confesses to his close girlfriend, Mary Austin (played by Lucy Boynton) whom he had previously proposed to and been accepted, "I think I'm bisexual!"
More problematic for me was that Malek does such an astonishing imitation of Mercury, sweeping all other characters aside with the result that while his persona is lit up in blazing technicolour practically everybody else seems anodyne in comparison - and I include the other Queen members, played by Gwilyn Lee and Ben Hardy (as May and Taylor, respectively) as well as Joseph Mazzello as John Deacon. Also, regarding the aforementioned Mary Boynton as his one-time fiancee, and Aaron McCutcheon as his male lover, Jim Hutton - just what did Mercury see in either of those? I didn't detect much emotional fizz at anytime between the two of them and Mercury. Also, Freddy's strait-laced parents seemed to be little more than ciphers.
The short impersonation of Kenny Everett I thought pretty well spot-on, and the almost unrecognisable Mike Myers steals his single extended scene as record producer with a self-referential one-liner regarding his conviction that 'Rhapsody' would never be played on the radio.
As for Rami Malek, only one word will do - amazing! His transformation into Mercury's strutting peacock is totally credible. Some are saying that his singing voice and his appearance aren't quite right. In my book, they are both close enough as makes no difference that matters. His singing has equal power to the original - and even the latter when singing the group's well-known hits would, like all sensible artistes, make small variations in emphasis for each performance. But for me his clear-cut, almost upper-class speaking voice was right on target, as judged against the voice we know from Mercury's interviews. No, I've no serious criticism at all of Malek.
As May and Taylor had sufficient influence to reject Sacha Baron Cohen's ideas it begs the question as to how much influence they had in shaping this final product. I'd suggest a lot, as there's little here for those two and Deacon to complain about in their portrayals. Apart from the very sparse bitchy remark, the furious rows are all with Mercury, the other three being of one unified mind. They'd have nothing here for their children and spouses to be ashamed to witness. All the accusations and regrets about Mercury's conduct would be due to the fault of his own temperament. I've little doubt that this may be closer to the truth than the converse, though this constant three-against one does appear to my mind to be terribly one-sided. Maybe it is accurate after all, who knows for sure other than the surviving Queen members?
The story takes one from Farrokh Bulsara joining the struggling group 'Smile' playing in small local night clubs up to the historic 20-minute set at Wembley Stadium for Live Aid 1985, the latter reincarnation being absolutely magnificent, I feeling the selfsame thrill when watching it live on T.V. all those years ago - as a middle-aged bopper (!). Got my adrenalin pumping all over again.
The start of Mercury's physical decline with the onset of AIDS is sensitively depicted, and I've no moans to make there either.
There's little doubt that Rami Malek carries the film. Anyone else failing to come up to his standard would have let down the entire venture - and he manifestly does not.
For those who are not fans of the group, their appreciation of the film might well be more restrained.
If this doesn't quite qualify as one of my 'Best Films of 2018', it sure is one of my 'better' ones...................7.
(IMDb.................8.5 / Rott. Toms...............5.7! - bound to rise later)
8 hours ago