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Review: “Bohemian Rhapsody” Sings With Simplistic Sensationalism

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Rami Malek has a certain power to rock the microphone and mustache like Freddie Mercury in this Queen biopic. He slaps on the tight clothing, brandishes the stache, and belts out the moves and vocals to light up the screen. His performance is so big that the fourth act seems almost entirely reserved to take in every inch of him eating up the whole stage. It’s a role so strong that it’s a shame he comes as the decadent cherry on a rather standard sundae of a behind-the-music biography.

Here is a film that could trim some fat as it plays for 134 minutes and still only feels like bullet points in a history class report on Freddie Mercury. We follow him from his days of working at an airport, taking in small rock concerts, and writing his own music. It isn’t long before he happens upon a struggling band comprised of guitarist Brian May (Gwilym Lee) and drummer Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy). They’re down a singer and Freddie offers his powerful vocals that transcend his enormous teeth. They play more gigs and produce an album. That album is discovered by agents and their songs are played on the radio. A handful of montages later, Queen is now the hottest band in the world with Freddie leading the charge in his tight pants and partying personality.

L-R: Joe Mazzello (John Deacon), Ben Hardy (Roger Taylor), Rami Malek (Freddie Mercury), and Gwilym Lee (Brian May) star in Twentieth Century Fox’s BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY. Photo Credit: Alex Bailey.

But the script spends so much time breezing through Freddie’s career that there’s a cold distance in trying to get to know the man behind the mustache. We see a romance blossom between him and Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton) that will lead to marriage, but very little of that chemistry comes through the screen, relegating Mary to the unfortunate girl who got Freddie a little too into women’s clothing. Freddie’s progression into becoming more knowingly bisexual seems to just happen on the road after an attractive glance at a truck driver and an awkward smooch by Mercury’s manager (Allen Leech). A lot of dialogue has to carry certain scenes, where we must be told that Freddie is burning the candle at both ends rather than seeing it. There’s not a lot of time to cover much of Freddie’s rising and descending; not when the film wants to keep up with all the music.

While the film has plenty of energy to crank the volume to eleven when it comes to the music, the insertion comes off as little more than toe-tapping tributes that hold back the real meat of the story of Freddie and Queen. Just when we think we’re going to understand a little more of Freddie’s shifting sexuality and the band’s frustrations, we cut to another song, as though their greatest hits are jammed in the player and won’t stop. But until the exciting climax at Live Aid, we’re stuck with bits and pieces of familiar songs while quickly glazing over the evolution of the characters, transforming the film into a series of lesser music videos at times. It’s almost as if the music is trying to drown out saying much of anything about the band past the simple facts, leading to dialogue so base that it’s fit for the trailers.

Rami Malek (Freddie Mercury) and Gwilym Lee (Brian May) star in Twentieth Century Fox’s BOHEMIAN RHAPSODY. Photo Credit: Alex Bailey.

There’s such a detachment in favoring the sensationalism and sentimentality that Bohemian Rhapsody never feels like the whole story, posing more like an extended TV movie of the week with strong performances. I can’t deny that it’s built to please an audience that wants to hear some Queen, laced with some on-the-nose foreboding winking; a record executive played by Mike Myers remarks that no teenagers will headbang in their car to Bohemian Rhapsody. Yes, we get it; that exact event would happen with Wayne’s World where Myers did the very act he describes here. It becomes very clear from scenes like this that the movie is struggling for the audience approval, never going too far, too musical, too silly, or too serious, ultimately leading into a rather pointless movie past the chance to see Rami put on a solid performance for a rock legend.

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Izzy

Movie Magic: The De-Aging Technique of The Irishman

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Robert DeNiro de-agedHave you read Izzy yet? If so, you know that Izzy makes the apples that give the Gods their youth and immortality. It also seems Robert De Niro discovered one of Izzy’s apples too… In Martin Scorsese’s upcoming biographical film, he stars as Frank “The Irishman” Sheeran, a labor union leader and alleged hitman for the Bufalino crime family. The trailer for the movie, which will premieres NEXT WEEK (!), also features a “de-aged” De Niro. “We’re so used to watching them as the older faces,” Scorsese said in an interview on the A24 podcast. “Does it change the eyes at all? …If that’s the case, what was in the eyes that I liked? Was it intensity? Was it gravitas? Was it threat?…How do we get that? I don’t know.” Some might consider this magic and I for one can’t wait to see the impact of Izzy’s apples on screen for myself. ????

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“Captain Marvel” Retains Top Slot at the Box Office

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It’s no surprise that in its second weekend, the first Marvel Cinematic Universe of 2019 is still riding high. Captain Marvel, the latest in the MCU with Brie Larson starring as the lead, generated another $69 million over the weekend, placing its domestic total at $266 million. Tallying up the international box office, the film’s global total to date is $760 million. Despite the online controversy, the film is looking to be another strong box office smash for Disney and Marvel.

As for the premieres for the weekend, and there were plenty, they were all over the map. Just below Captain Marvel was the animated adventure Wonder Park, bringing in $16 million, another film with controversy when the director’s name was removed from the picture after sexual harassment charges. Five Feet Apart, the dying teen drama about a romance amid cystic fibrosis, only came in at #3 with a weekend gross of $13 million. And debuting the lowest in the top 10 for debuts was Captive State, a sci-fi dystopian tale, only making $3 million. The film debuted so low the little film No Manches Frida 2 was able to sneak about it at #6 with a gross of $3.8 million.

Drops were fairly low all around for the returning films, mostly because Captain Marvel was dominating the previous weekend. The only milestone worth noting is that The LEGO Movie 2, after six weeks at the box office, finally cracked $100 million. And the sun is now setting on Green Book’s post-Oscar run by coming in at #10 for the final weekend of its top 10 run over the past few weeks.

View the full top ten weekend box office results below:

Captain Marvel ($69,318,000)

Wonder Park ($16,000,000)

Five Feet Apart ($13,150,000)

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($9,345,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($8,085,000)

No Manches Frida 2 ($3,894,000)

Captive State ($3,163,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($2,135,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($1,900,000)

Green Book ($1,277,000)

Next weekend, Captain Marvel may very well have some competition when Jordan Peele’s new horror film Us hits over 3,600 theaters.

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“Dragon” Continues To Soar, “Funeral” Close Behind, “Green Book” Back

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With little competition for the weekend, How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World, the third in the animated fantasy saga, was able to secure the box office once more. In its second weekend, the animated epic made $30 million to push its domestic total to $97 million. So far the film has done about the same as the previous film and is on track to stay in the top 10 for a few more weeks in March.

Debuts this weekend were small with one big exception. Tyler Perry’s latest Madea film, A Madea Family Funeral, naturally made a relatively big splash with its dedicated audience. Starting at #2, the film made $27 million for its first weekend. No word on the budget yet but it’s most likely on a budget as most Tyler Perry productions are, so it’s safe to call this a success, especially for debuting with a box office so close to Dragon.

The rest of the premieres were not as strong at all. Greta, the new thriller starring Chloe Moretz, debuted all the way down at #8 with $4.5 million box office. To be fair, however, the film was in a constant battle for its spot as three other films also reported earnings around $4 million for the weekend. Of note, Green Book, fresh off winning the Academy Award for Best Picture one weekend ago, splashed back into more theaters to arise even higher in the top 10 with its domestic total now sitting at $73 million. Don’t count on it remaining there long as bigger blockbusters will be swooping as we plow through the last remnants of winter movies.

Check out the full listing of the top 10 box office weekend results below:

How to Train Your Dragon: The Hidden World ($30,046,000)

Tyler Perry’s A Madea Family Funeral ($27,050,000)

Alita: Battle Angel ($7,000,000)

The LEGO Movie 2: The Second Part ($6,615,000)

Green Book ($4,711,000)

Fighting With My Family ($4,691,284)

Isn’t it Romantic ($4,645,000)

Greta ($4,585,000)

What Men Want ($2,700,000)

Happy Death Day 2U ($2,516,000)

Next weekend is once again all about Marvel as their latest superhero solo film, Captain Marvel, will be appearing in 4,100 theaters.

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