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Film Review: Malek Gives Championship Performance in 'Bohemian Rhapsody'

by Todd A. Smith

 

Gwilym Lee (Brian May), Ben Hardy (Roger Taylor), Rami Malek (Freddie Mercury) and Joe Mazzello (John Deacon) (left to right) star in “Bohemian Rhapsody” (Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox).


 

‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and Malek are Champions 

 


On the classic Queen song, “We are the Champions,” legendary lead singer Freddie Mercury sang, “We are the champions, my friends, and we’ll keep on fighting ‘till the end. We are the champions. We are the champions. No time for losers, ‘cause we are the champions of the world.”


At the time of that release, few probably recognized how prophetic the lyrics of “We are the Champions” would become.


When record companies did not understand the music of Queen, the rock group fought to the end to stay true to their artistic vision.


When journalists did not understand Mercury’s relationships, the lead singer fought to keep his private life private.


When Freddie’s own father did not approve of his choices in life, he stayed true to himself.


And when Mercury faced his biggest obstacle in life, he fought to the end, leaving a legacy that still resonates four decades later.


The story behind the Queen biopic, “Bohemian Rhapsody” will not shock any fan of the band.


As a matter of fact, many non-Queen fans know the story and the anthem-like songs such as “We Will Rock You.”


However, the performance by Rami Malek as the Queen front man will shock the socks off of any moviegoer.


And it will be an even bigger shock to not see Malek in the audience for the next Academy Awards, at least as a nominee for Best Actor, if not the actual winner of the award.


The story behind “Bohemian Rhapsody” begins like the stories of many other musical groups or bands.


The Temptations did not take off until David Ruffin replaced Elbridge “Al” Bryant.


Boyz II Men did not take off until Marc Nelson left to form the group Az Yet.


And TLC did not take off until Rozonda “Chili” Thomas replaced Crystal Jones.


Likewise, the British-band Queen did not take off until they got a dose of star power from Freddie Mercury.


From the beginning, Freddie represented something that all stars need, uniqueness.


Freddie dressed differently.


He did not have the natural physical traits of a superstar.


But Freddie definitely possessed the voice, vision, and strength needed to stand out in the pack.


When record company executives did not see his vision, he let them know that they would regret their decision one day.


When all of the male singers of the day looked a certain way with their wardrobe choices, Freddie chose an androgynous style that would be made famous years later by stars like Prince and Boy George.


But like many stars, Freddie began smelling himself once he had reached the ultimate level of success.


Like so many other entertainers from Ralph Tresvant of New Edition to Ruffin, Freddie began thinking he was bigger than the band that gave him the platform for fame and celebrity.


And like Tresvant and Ruffin, he soon found out that even the brightest star couldn’t shine brightly enough on their own.


Many entertainers need other stars to help shine a bright light on the world.


Furthermore, in “Bohemian Rhapsody” Freddie finds out quickly who his true friends are when he faces the biggest challenge to his status as a champion of the entertainment industry.


Director Bryan Singer nails every aspect of “Bohemian Rhapsody” from the casting down to the costumes.


The opening and closing scenes from the historic Live Aid concerts, which raised money for famine relief in Africa, will go down as legendary filmmaking and it is the perfect way to begin and end “Bohemian Rhapsody.”


Like Michael Jackson and The Jacksons reached immortality as a result of their Motown 25 performance in 1983 and New Edition cemented their legacy with their 2005 reunion performance at BET 25, Freddie Mercury and Queen will always be revered and remembered for their breathtaking and inspiring comeback performance at Live Aid.


When artists share the stage with other icons and legends, and their particular performance is the one everyone remembers decades later, that is proof of their star power.


However, the true shining star of “Bohemian Rhapsody” definitely is Malek.


Like in “Ray,” where Jamie Foxx delivered such a chilling performance as Ray Charles that moviegoers forgot they were watching Foxx and not Charles, moviegoers will think that they are watching Mercury and not Malek.


And like Charles had to battle discrimination while staying true to himself and his artistic vision, Mercury had the same challenges throughout his career.


But while Charles had the support of his family, Mercury did not always enjoy that luxury.


Charles had to change his name to avoid confusion with boxing icon “Sugar” Ray Robinson.


However, Mercury had to change his name to something more White to avoid hatred of his people and his religion.


But just like Charles, Mercury let stardom get to his head, allowing the wrong people in his circle, and ridding himself of the people who really cared about him, his band mates.


And while “Bohemian Rhapsody” is the story of how Mercury overcame personal mistakes and obstacles to remain a champion in the history of music, “Bohemian Rhapsody” is also a much-needed cautionary tale for those on their way to greatness.


“Bohemian Rhapsody” is also a story of redemption.


Those who truly care for you will care for you and have your back despite the mistakes you may have made in the past.


Those who truly love you will have your back when you face life’s biggest challenges.


Most importantly, those who truly love you will tell you the truth and not just tell you what you want to hear like the many yes-men and yes-women who leech off of stars in the entertainment industry.


And if anyone does not love Malek’s performance, they do not know the truth when it comes to acting.


His performance is the truth and is of championship caliber because it details the ups and downs in life that everyone experiences, even the supremely gifted, talented and famous.


As Mercury sang on “We are the Champions,” “I’ve taken bows and my curtain calls, you brought me fame and fortune and everything that goes with it, I thank you all.


“But it’s been no bed of roses, no pleasure cruise, I consider it a challenge before the whole human race and I ain’t gonna lose.


“We are the champions, my friends and we’ll keep on fighting ‘til the end.”

 


REGAL RATINGS

FOUR CROWNS=EXCELLENT

THREE CROWNS=GOOD

TWO CROWNS=AVERAGE

ONE CROWN=POOR


This article was published on Friday 02 November, 2018.
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