THURSDAY, NOVEMBER 1, 2018 -- First and foremost, Bryan Singer and Dexter Fletcher's latest film is a biopic - a biographical film using dramatic license - of the rock group Queen and the late Freddie Mercury. If you are interested in a straightforward documentary, there are a few films out including one produced by the Biography Channel. But this is a fun film about a music icon.


That said, there are a few flaws. Timelines are skewed. There may be a smidgen to much attention to Mercury's sexuality. And the prosthetic overbite worn by lead Rami Malek might be a bit of a distraction at first. But none of that matters because there are two things that make this film work: the music and Malek's performance.


When you consider the various biographical films about musicians, the best that come to mind are "Coal Miner's Daughter," "Ray," "Get On Up," "Walk the Line,' "Rhapsody in Blue," and of course James Cagney's "Yankee Doodle Dandy" every one featured a strong lead. In most cases Oscar nominated performances. In a couple, winning performances - Jamie Foxx in "Ray" and Sissy Spacek in "Coal Miner's Daughter."

Look for Malek to get some award considerations as Freddie Mercury - despite the prosthetic teeth. He totally gets into this role and it would be hard to imagine any one else as Mercury. (Sacha Baron Cohen was considered for the lead). NOTE: Singer is the director of record, but was fired by the studio and Fletcher completed and edited the film; Singer however, is the director of record.


The film covers Mercury's life from his first breaking into performing in a small club with a now defunct band. The timeline is skewed and the acts changed a bit, but the important part is what drives the entire film -- the staging of and delivery of Queen's music. The rest of the stuff isn't important.


As the dramatic focus bounces to Mercury's personal life - first as a straight guy involved with a gal named Mary (Lucy Boynton) then his gay life with opportunist manager John Reid (Aidan Gillen) - the musical scenes are perfectly spaced and sandwiched between the bands iconic Live Aid performance in London's Wembley Stadium.


There are not-so-subtle moments that are homages to previous Queen film tributes; noteworthy is Michael Myers nod to his "Wayne's World" mention of Queen. There are brief nods to contributions by other band members such as bassist John Deacon's (Joseph Mazzello) bass riff for Another One Bites the Dust which is considered one the top ten greatest bass riffs of all times. Also, Brian May's (Gwilym Lee) idea of integrating the audience foot stomping in We Will Rock You.


But don't be mistaken, this is Malek's movie about the principle band member, Freddie Mercury. It illustrates his natural talent and his flamboyant stage persona that made the band loved the world over.


"Bohemian Rhapsody" is a thunderous, toe-tapping good time that highlights what you want in a dramatic music biography -- the music and the performances. It's in your face and ranks as one of the best ever -- despite the story's flaws.   -- GRADE B --   GEOFF BURTON