Almost a year after the release of the biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, the band Queen has spoken out against critics, stating they don’t know how to enjoy movies given the bad reviews the biopic got, but the band doesn’t seem to get why they were bad. Bohemian Rhapsody got its dose of controversy even before it started filming, with Sacha Baron Cohen (who was originally going to play Freddie Mercury) leaving and director Bryan Singer dropping out mid-production reportedly due to the sexual assault lawsuit and allegations he’s still involved in.
The movie was then made possible thanks to Rami Malek being cast as Mercury and Dexter Fletcher taking over directing duties. Bohemian Rhapsody followed the story of Freddie Mercury and the band Queen from their beginnings in the 1970s to their reunion at the Live Aid concert in 1985. As it happens with several other biographical movies, many events were changed, omitted, or even created for narrative (and dramatic) purposes, but Bohemian Rhapsody might have gone a bit too far on that. Although it was a box office success, the movie got mixed reviews, something that the band hasn’t taken lightly.
Queen’s drummer Roger Taylor spoke against those critics that gave Bohemian Rhapsody bad reviews, stating in an interview with Planet Rock that the band is too popular and “a lot of the media just hate that”, that those bad reviewers didn’t get the movie, and they have probably “lost the essence of the joy of a movie”. Brian May echoed similar thoughts in an interview with Guitar World when the film first came out. Although it can be understood why the bad reviews have bothered them so much, as they were involved in the movie and it was telling a very important part of their lives, they don’t seem to be seeing beyond the “bad” review and why these were negative. Just like the critics are not “getting it”, Queen is not “getting” why their movie was so criticized.
Bohemian Rhapsody got bad reviews for many reasons, among those for how it focused more on making a PG-13 version of the band than actually telling the events as they were – after all, it was supposed to be a biographical drama. The way Mercury’s sexuality was portrayed was also a heavily criticized element, with many pointing out it that it was treated as something to be ashamed of, while others felt it disengaged from it by focusing more on Mercury’s relationship with his ex-girlfriend. Most of the events in the movie connected awkwardly (and then there’s the infamous Bohemian Rhapsody badly edited scene), and the overall story felt messy to most critics. Perhaps instead of being so defensive, the members of Queen should take a deeper, objective look at the final product.
In the end, not every movie is going to appeal to everyone, and while it’s understandable (and valid) that the creators defend their work, they should also be open to criticism – especially if it’s getting a lot of it, because there’s obviously a reason for that. Bohemian Rhapsody has many flaws, but it also has an emotional side, which is Queen’s main focus point when defending it, but they should really take a look at where the movie failed and not take the bad reviews as blindly and strongly as they did. It’s a learning process, even for a legendary band like Queen.