I always thought Queen was camp, a goof, and their primary contribution was “We are the Champions” and “We Will Rock You” which you sang in the bleachers during CYO basketball games. When I realized some people thought they were a great band, I was surprised. So, I walked into this as if it were a biopic of Emerson Lake & Palmer. Or Kansas.
Still, a great movie does not have to be about a great band. This, however, is not a great movie. It is cookie cutter, inoffensive, as risk-averse a biopic as you’ll find (it’s clear why Sacha Baron Cohen was jettisoned from the project), but well-paced and energized by the erstwhile Bryan Singer and made a little more interesting by Rami Malek’s weird, lizard-like performance (he’s just this side of Bela Lugosi, you never know if he’s just about to bite someone on the neck). To be fair, Malek is also very moving towards the end.
The scenes of the band playing live and in studio are silly. The scenes of the band talking about the music and themselves are like a slightly more serious episode of the Monkees. The rendition of the creative process is hilarious.
The primary feeling you’re left with is foreordained watching any story sanctioned by its subjects (the band had script approval) – it’s pleasant. Rock and roll, drugs, cats and AIDS, brought to you by Disney. It’s formulaic, harmless and overlong at two hours and fifteen (ending with an extended scene of their set at Live Aid, which is dull in that Malek is lip-synching), but not unentertaining.