It takes thirty seconds to build an anthem in Bohemian Rhapsody. In a recording studio, Brian May, the lead guitarist of Queen, stomps his foot twice. He pauses, raises an eyebrow, then claps. His bandmates follow suit. Cut to a stage, the echo of ‘We Will Rock You’ pulsates through the audience with short-lived majesty. Shut your eyes and the genius remains momentarily intact; but it’s somehow not enough to save the nauseating cacophony of clichés that punishes the talent of a generation in this film.
The blame falls on the lopsided directors, as Dexter Fletcher (Sunshine on Leith) had to finish what Bryan Singer (The Usual Suspects, X-Men) started: an ambitious and overconfident tribute to iconic rock band Queen and their leading legend, Freddie Mercury. There were many reasons to be worried about this project; Sacha Baron Cohen left the film, originally billed to play the singer, as did Ben Whishaw, before Rami Malek (Mr Robot) was finally cast. Bryan Singer was fired over “differences with the band”, as Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor served as creative consultants on the film. But there was also hope for its success – how could you possibly ruin the enjoyment of Queen if the musicians themselves are conducting the orchestra?
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