Spoilers ahead! Proceed with caution!
Also note that it's possible my thoughts on the film might change over time as the newness wears off.
It just wouldn't be a Queen project if the press and critics weren't being so fucking shitty about it!
I've seen the film twice now, and am still gathering a lot of thoughts on it, but I will say that I genuinely enjoyed it! I was extremely nervous about hearing about alterations to the timeline in places, but I was determined to stay optimistic and open-minded, and I'm glad I did.
The timeline stuff did annoy my pedantic/obsessed fan part of my brain, but it wasn't enough to pull me out of the film, and it genuinely did help the story flow the way films are supposed to. And while it helped them pack A LOT into two hours and thirteen minutes, of course they couldn't include everything. Had the film gone into even more detail while staying true to the timeline, it likely wouldn't even get to the recording of A Night At The Opera by the 02:13:00 mark.
As many hardcore fans have stated before me, I would have had no issue watching a 8-10 hour movie! But seeing as how it was supposed to appeal to a general audience outside the fandom, we have to take what we can get!
The other concern, thanks to Bryan Fuller jumping the gun and being a dick, was the possible straight-washing of Freddie. He was not straight-washed! Some folks are upset that the film doesn't get especially sexually graphic in general, but I feel like there are a few things to keep in mind:
1. The film was written through a straight lens, and that makes a world of difference than if a queer person wrote it even when the film has a PG-13 rating.
2. Brian and Roger (who are straight and had to approve the script) didn't want the focus to be Freddie's sex life. You see Freddie in the leather scene, you see cruising, men dancing, etc. in a montage. As a queer person, I didn't really feel cheated by not seeing specific stuff Freddie may or may not have done. But that's me. Had the film promised to go there, I would have absolutely been disappointed that it hadn't, but Brian and Roger had always made it very clear that they wanted the film to be respectful of Freddie's memory. And considering that they've had to deal with and see the press so often get invasive about Freddie's sex life instead of his music, I can see where they're coming from. Hell, there's even a really intense scene dedicated to how fucking obnoxious the press were! And also, the film is rated PG-13 in the US, so that alone would be reason enough for the film not getting explicit.
3. I've heard some people come back from screenings and report uncomfortable tension from straight people in the theatre every time Freddie would so much as look at another man. As obsessed with queer sex lives straight folks are, they don't handle it well when they have to observe any of it. But while the film doesn't go graphic or sensationalize anything, it's still unapologetic in what we do see, especially if you're able to read between the lines.
It's unfortunate that we don't get to see any of Freddie's boyfriends and more of Jim Hutton. I don't think it's because they tried to minimize Jim's importance to Freddie, but their relationship was still really new by Live Aid, which is where the film ends. It makes sense that we don't see nearly enough of him, but it's a bit of a letdown because I was really looking forward to seeing the chemistry between Rami and Aaron McCusker develop. I really hope there will be bonus footage on the Blu-ray going further into that. Maybe his other boyfriends were left out of the story to maintain Freddie's sense of loneliness and Paul Prenter's isolation tactics as well. I can understand that, and if it was also down to keeping the story moving, but I hope people who become fans through this movie will want to learn more about Freddie's dating life.
And real quick? The idea some folks have that Prenter shoved Freddie into promiscuity and club/bar scenes against his will is a bit much. One of the first things one learns about Freddie when going deeper than his music is that "pushover" doesn't come anywhere close to defining him. Prenter was definitely horrible and a bad influence, but to imply that Freddie otherwise never would have done any of the things he did is pretty disrespectful. Freddie was a complex human being with good and bad qualities just like anyone else. Don't fucking lie about the man just because parts of his life might make you uncomfortable or sad because of hindsight.
The more I think about it, the more I don't like how the film shows Freddie and Mary's relationship. In real life, they were both there for each other, and what I've read in books and seen in documentaries suggests that they had a really good balance. But the film makes it look like Freddie wanted to keep Mary all to himself without giving anything in return when that *probably* wasn't the case. I wish in general the film could have shown how generous and caring Freddie was without making him look like a chore to deal with.
In terms of Freddie's moves, I think Rami fell a slight bit short in being exact, but! I actually really appreciate that he threw in some of his own spontaneity. I feel like if he tried to mimic Freddie's moves exactly, hardcore fans would be able to tell if he'd be overthinking things, and that would have really pissed me off. I've seen videos of tribute band performers try to copy Freddie's moves, only to look a bit clunky and stiff at times, so I'll happily take Rami feeling the music and incorporating a bit of himself into it over something that won't look genuine. so huge props to his movement coach, Polly Bennett! I had also hoped to hear more of Rami singing. I think it's his voice on a bit of Doin' Alright and Lazing On A Sunday Afternoon, and Keep Yourself Alive, but I was looking forward to getting more than that. I really appreciated overall how they used Marc Martel's and Freddie's singing voices, though. I mean, obviously they couldn't NOT use Freddie's voice in good conscience, I'm just saying it would have been cool to hear more of Rami since he worked really hard on singing lessons.
But as AMAZING as Rami Malek was as Freddie, the entire rest of the cast should absolutely get just as much praise for their performances as well! Gwilym Lee, with the combination of natural talent and borrowing some of Brian May's actual clothes, had me believing that he WAS Brian (that he could mimic Brian's voice EXACTLY helped)! And while Ben Hardy couldn't reasonably mimic Roger's speaking voice, his acting is superb, and he hits some pretty high notes! And Joe Mazzello! I was so excited to see the actor from one of my all-time favorite films, Jurassic Park, play John Deacon! He fucking nailed all of it! The moves, the voice/accent, the outstanding one-liners! I hope actual John can feel proud of Joe's performance.
Unfortunately, Lucy Boynton, who plays Mary, didn't get to talk to the real Mary Austin before filming. I respect that Mary's keen on her privacy, but I just felt bad that Lucy could really only base her role on stories Brian, Roger, and Anita Dobson could tell her, and from interviews Mary had done in the past. Lucy did an excellent job, don't get me wrong! But I can't help but wonder if things might have been different had she gotten to actually spend time with Mary and have a first-hand account of things the film goes into. Especially getting to understand a bit more the depth of how much Freddie had meant to her.
Allen Leech as Paul Prenter did amazingly! Some folks had complained that he was a very cartoonish villain, so I was preparing to see a Snidley Whiplash situation, but his performance was very far from that, in my opinion. My only complaint about his role is that the film didn't really show the full scope of Prenter's gradual shift into manipulating and digging his claws into Freddie. As an abuse survivor, I personally get it and can fill in the blanks on that process, but in a general sense it was weird to see Prenter go from shitty personal assistant kissing Freddie's ass to suddenly having the ability to isolate Freddie while convincing him that he knows what's best. But then again, I think Brian, Roger, and Mary(?) only really saw what we see in the film, and from what I can tell, Phoebe didn't consult on Prenter at all, and I'm sure he would have had really good insight. I just hope that people who are lucky enough to have never been in it don't assume that people can only get into abusive situations because they're naive.
With all the attention to detail in the film, I was surprised that there were errors at all (not including timeline adjustments). The idea that Freddie wasn't working on Mr Bad Guy while also still recording and touring with Queen, the interior of Garden Lodge didn't look like actual Garden Lodge (Mary didn't permit filming at the real house), Roger's hair laying flat in the 80's, and his comment prior to Live Aid that Queen "haven't played together in years" when that wasn't the case are the only things I can think of at the moment. I'd have to watch again to see if there were any continuity errors, but overall I think Bohemian Rhapsody does well at keeping blunders to a minimum.
My only major complaint about the film is that Bryan Singer was given the director credit by the MPAA. From what I can tell, this didn't bother Dexter Fletcher in the slightest, but it's not my idea of a good time that a human trash pile like Bryan Singer gets all of the credit.
That said, the Live Aid performance gave me goosebumps! Brian's said on his social media that it will eventually be released separately and in its entirety, so I'm really looking forward to that.
But yeah, I very genuinely enjoy this movie, and I'm eagerly waiting for it to come out on Blu-ray so I can check out bonus features and pause scenes wherever I want so I can take in more details!