Bohemian Rhapsody 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Review
Stuck in production limbo for many years, the Freddie Mercury biopic went through a few different incarnations before finally reaching the big screen in 2018. Of course, the drama around the film is almost more notable than the actual film when director Bryan Singer went AWOL from the set and was eventually fired and replaced by Dexter Fletcher. Depending on who you talk to and when you talk to them, Singer either directed every frame of the final cut or had no involvement at all. It’s tough to judge directing style since Singer is pretty bland and Fletcher doesn’t have a large body of work, but to me, BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY plays more like a summer blockbuster than a music biopic, which lends me to believe Singer had more to do with this than most of the people involved would like to admit.
The plot is fairly straightforward; a young Freddie Mercury (Malek) is a lost soul looking to escape his family when he finds a group of band mates that just lost their lead singer. In an instant, Queen is formed and together they start making timeless music. But their path to stardom is not without its problems. As Mercury’s star skyrockets, so do the people that aim to take advantage of him and eventually, his desires go unchecked and he slips down a dark hole that eventually leads to his demise. But not before he gives one of the greatest concert performances of all time.
If the premise sounds formulaic, it’s because it is. However, in everyone’s defense, there’s only so many directions you can take a music biopic. Virtually every musician follows the same path with humble beginnings, immense fame, tragic downfall and heroic redemption. But even with that, Singer/Fletcher tell the story of Queen with kid gloves. Freddie Mercury was one of the most enigmatic leading men of all time and to this day, he and the rest of Queen have yet to be copied or matched in terms of musical creativity and overall captivation. Mercury’s time with the band was filled with extremes that were barely glossed over in BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY. And you may have heard people complain that his homosexuality was mishandled; while I wouldn’t say that necessarily, I don’t think it can be argued that it wasn’t a focal point of the film, for better or worse. The point being, it wouldn’t take much to tweak a Queen biopic to be a dark, hard R drama.
The summer blockbuster feel to the film comes through in the musical performances. Every time we hear Queen perform a song or even see them work on a song, it sends goosebumps through the audience. But to be clear, that’s not really a credit to the filmmakers as it is to the incredible music of Queen. If you recall, movies like THE MIGHTY DUCKS and WAYNE’S WORLD were able to capture similar feelings in the early 90’s by featuring Queen songs. A lot of people don’t remember much about those movies, but everyone remembers the Ducks stomping along to “We Will Rock You” or Wane and Garth singing “Bohemian Rhapsody” in their AMC Pacer. The same thing goes here; people probably won’t remember specific details about the film, but everyone will remember Rami Malek lip-syncing to Radio Gaga during the Live Aid performance.
BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY isn’t what I’d call a great movie, but it’s such a blast to watch. While music biopics like WALK THE LINE or RAY felt heavy under the weight of their troubled leads, BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY is a breezy, fun, enjoyable blast. The problem comes with what audiences want out of a Queen biopic and I think most of us wanted a deeper exploration of the band rather than a highlight reel of their best songs. Still, Rami Malek gives the performance of a lifetime and Queen’s music is still incredible, so it’s hard not to recommend BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY.
4K ULTRA HD BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: The Blu-ray for BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY is fantastic, but the 4K manages to outdo it on almost every level. Details in closeups and settings come through with crisper images and deeper colors. The darker scenes appear to have slightly more detail and clarity than on the Blu-ray and the well lit scenes seem bolder and brighter. This is a great looking 4K.
Audio: The Dolby Atmos track is put to good use here, specifically during the final Live Aid performance. It really does feel like you’re part of the audience as you get fan noise from every direction. This might be a disc you’ll want to show off your speakers with.
This title was reviewed using a Samsung UBD-K8500 with a Sony XBR75X850C TV.
There are no 4K exclusive special features, but it does include a Blu-ray of the film, which has the following special features:
Rami Malek: Becoming Freddie (16:10): This featurette focuses on Malek and what he went through to become Freddie Mercury.
The Look and Sound of Queen (21:45): The cast and crew talk about how great Queen is.
Recreating Live Aid (19:55): Similar to the above featurette, this time everyone talks about the Live Aid scene.
Complete Live Aid Performance