New-Release Tuesday: Bohemian Rhapsody

Past the Popcorn provides South King Media with exclusive reviews of Theatrical and Home Video entertainment. We aim to dig just a little deeper than the surface of what we watch.

I pretty studiously avoid running home video reviews for films that Past the Popcorn has reviewed during their theatrical release. Since I’m incredibly biased toward Queen, however, I’m making an exception in this case.

The exception is warranted, however, since the bonus features of the home video release of Bohemian Rhapsody include 20+ minutes of footage not included in the theaters. Basically, in addition to the original cut of the film, you also get to watch the entire re-created Live Aid performance. The discs, as you might expect, also include the usual making-of featurettes.

What Bryan Singer accomplished with the musical performances in Rhapsody is truly remarkable, and reflected both in the film’s five Oscar nominations and the fact that the film has now become the most successful music biopic in worldwide markets. As Freddie Mercury, Rami Malek is so convincing you’d never guess he’s not actually singing in these performances, which are a mix of original recordings of Mercury’s voice and that of Marc Martel, who fronted the Brian May and Roger Taylor-backed Queen Extravaganza (which I had the pleasure of taking in during its Seattle stop a few years back).

But the film is not just strong because of the music. The script also makes very wise choices about picking a story line for the film: not the making of an album, Freddie’s sexuality per se, or a triumph on stage (though of course those elements feature heavily), but the redemption of Freddie’s relationships with his bandmates and parents. There are indeed more important things in life than fame, fortune, and having a good time.

Yes, the filmmakers fudge with lots of facts (for example, the fact that Freddie Bulsara was already well known to Brian and Roger before Smile broke up, or that “Fat Bottomed Girls” was several years away from being written before Queen’s first tour of America, and so on) but the choices made in consultation with May and Taylor are all in service of the story. “Any story worth telling is worth embellishing,” as they say.

Kudos.

The full-priced bonus-features cut of Bohemian Rhapsody (runtime 156 minutes) is now available on Amazon Video.

You can also find it on YouTube… but without the extended footage! You can also preorder the 4K, Blu-ray, and DVD releases (February 12) at the usual places.