As you know, Queen are the best band that ever lived. They are better than The Beatles, The Rolling Stones, Elvis Presley and even Boyzone…
When I was 11 I was playing snooker round a friend’s house and he asked me if I liked Queen. I had never heard of them, but after 30 minutes of the Greatest Hits I was intrigued, excited and clamouring to hear more.
Over the next few years every birthday and Christmas would bring me new Queen albums until I owned them all, and then the collecting continued until they numbered in the hundreds.
I know every Queen song inside out, I could tell you the month each album was released and I could tell you the track listing for every album, and which which member of Queen wrote each song. This is not deliberate, this is just the way it is when you grew up with a passion to make up for the standard anxieties of being a teenager.
Of the plus 500 songs Queen have recorded there are probably three that I do not like and more than 100 that I believe to be exceptional. The rest are on the whole better than any other artist could manage and so the band is very important to me and always will be.
I wasn’t expecting much from the film and indeed was expecting to be letdown. This is Queen, how could a film come close to what I already know. I was expecting to criticise the factual nature of the storyline, but on the whole I couldn’t. A couple of parts felt twisted to be more interesting, such as the way the band were excited about John Deacon playing Another One Bites The Dust for the first time. My understanding is that the song barely made the album it ended up on.
Rami Malek is both brilliant and annoying as Freddie Mercury. He mimics his onstage persona brilliantly and looks like him most of the time. However, I struggle to believe that Freddie spoke the way Malek does in the film – at times he almost makes Mercury sound simple and barely human which seems strange.
The plot is quite shallow with the characters of Brian, Roger and John not being fleshed out in any way and leaving them as bit parts against the overpowering personality of Mercury. It highlights how they all wrote the music, but here we have an astonishing collection of people capable of writing huge hits that no other band has collectively managed to do. Brian May (We Will Rock You, Who Wants To Live Forever), Roger Taylor (Radio Ga Ga, A Kind of Magic), John Deacon (Another One Bites The Dust, I Want to Break Free), Freddie Mercury (Bohemian Rhapsody, Somebody To love etc) – they all wrote wonderful songs and it was not fleshed out enough in the movie to highlight this, and the collective nature of their writing was also largely ignored.
The growing popularity of the band was also very simple with a seemingly unhindered route to success just happening without any real problems, apart from the problems Freddie faced being controlled by the evil Irishman. Even then, a couple of the lines were not factual, but it didn’t get in the way.
As the film gains momentum near the end we reach the Live Aid performance. That Live Aid performance which is still considered by many to be the best 20 minutes of live music ever.
The way it is filmed and the audio that runs in the background, the original audio of the performance, is extraordinary. My wife and daughter thought the same and we all had tears in our eyes as it played out. Not through sadness, but through the sheer immersive nature of the production. I can’t explain it, you will have to see it to understand what I mean, but that last 20 minutes is worth the price of admission on its own. It is quite amazing even if the rest of the film is slightly confusing. The film is, however, still the best I have seen in 10 years, and marginally better than A Star Is Born which is also a superb offering.