The holiday movie season has finally begun. And with it three new releases.
We have a biopic about one of the most popular bands of all time, a reimagining of the classic tale of “The Nutcracker” from Disney, and yet another Tyler Perry comedy.
Let’s get right to the reviews.
First up is “Bohemian Rhapsody.”
Based on a true story, this film traces the meteoric rise of the band known as Queen and their extraordinary lead singer Freddie Mercury (Rami Malek).
From their small beginnings, all the way up to Queen’s legendary appearance at Live Aid in 1985.
I love Queen. They’re probably my favorite music group of all time.
Ever since watching a clip of Queen at Wembley Stadium in 1986 as a teenager and seeing Freddy on stage, not just singing himself, but commanding the audience to sing along with him, all before an amazing performance of “Under Pressure” to a seemingly endless crowd.
Just like the audience in Wembley, that moment captivated me, and in a way that no other performance ever had.
After that I bought a collection of Queen’s greatest hits, but that wasn’t enough for me. I needed more.
I ended up buying every recording of Queen’s that I could get my hands on. From their original self-titled debut album “Queen” all the way to “Made in Heaven,” released four years after Freddie’s death.
Given all that, you’d think a biopic like this one would practically be made for me. A telling of Queen’s history filled to the brim with their best songs off their best albums? What’s not to love?
And this movie definitely has the music.
Pretty much every popular song by Queen is featured in this film.
Naturally the creation of “Bohemian Rhapsody” gets a large amount of screentime here, plus there’s prominent favorites like “We Will Rock You,” We Are The Champions,” “Another One Bites The Dust,” and my personal favorite “Under Pressure.” But there’s also some deeper cuts like “Love Of My Life,” “Lazing On A Sunday Afternoon,” and “Who Wants to Live Forever.
As a huge Queen fan, I couldn’t ask for a better soundtrack. There’s a reason they’re one of the most influential bands of all time, and the music here was definitely one of the major highlights of the film.
The other major standout was Rami Malek as Freddie. Up until this movie, Rami has mostly been relegated to television roles, breaking out with his fantastic performance in USA’s techno thriller “Mr. Robot.”
After this movie though, I’d be shocked if we didn’t start seeing a lot more of Rami in major productions.
He’s just so good here. At times it’s almost like Rami completely disappears and you just see Freddie.
The way he talked, the way he acted, the way Freddie commanded an audience. Rami nailed it all.
Between the soundtrack and Rami’s amazing performance, there’s a lot to like with this film. In fact I think those two elements alone will be enough for most people to come out of “Bohemian Rhapsody” loving it.
Sadly though this movie is far from perfect. Unfortunately, weak storytelling and a fabricated, cliched narrative hold this film back.
Let me start off by saying I’m not a stickler for historical accuracy.
I don’t really care if the filmmakers decided to have Freddie meet his future girlfriend Mary Austin (Lucy Boynton) the same night he joined Brian May (Gwilym Lee) and Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy), even though that’s not how it actually happened.
I understand to fit a typical film plot structure and make a movie entertaining, some adjustments to the original story always have to be made.
However, I’m much less understanding when filmmakers start wholesale making up facts. Especially when those fabrications are some of the most tired stereotypical story elements, used in nearly every movie about a musical group.
For instance, the band having a fight and splitting up so the egotistical lead singer can start a solo career. It happens in every single movie about a band, so of course they throw it in here too.
It’s a tired old cliche and putting it in this movie speaks volumes to the lack of care that went into the writing. Mostly because it never actually happened.
It’s the same tired plot point used in every band movie ever. Heck, they used it in the Disney Channel original movie “The Cheetah Girls” and Hasbro’s box office flop “Jem and the Holograms.” How lazy can you get copying those films?
Yes, Queen did take a year off in 1983, but it wasn’t because everyone had a falling out with Freddie. They needed a break after touring for practically 10 years straight.
It wasn’t just Freddie that worked on solo material that year. Roger and Brian did as well. And they were never on bad terms like the movie implies. Later that same year they began work a new album, “The Works.”
Also, in reality, Live Aid wasn’t a big reunion like it was in this film.
Freddie didn’t actually plead with his bandmates to take him back so they could perform at the concert. In fact, by the time Live Aid happened in 1984, the band was coming off a worldwide tour for their new album.
You know, the one they had started working on the year before because they weren’t actually on bad terms.
They also practically made up the character of record executive Ray Foster (Mike Myers) for this movie.
It’s all to create conflict for Queen’s release of “Bohemian Rhapsody.” Ray Foster is the typical music executive you see in every movie about a band, telling the group they need to be more commercially viable.
The character is loosely based on EMI chief Roy Featherstone, but Roy was actually a huge fan of Queen. Yes, he thought “Bohemian Rhapsody” was too long to be a single, but beyond that the clash between him and the band in this movie was completely fiction.
I don’t get it. If the movie needed more conflict, why didn’t they include Queen’s real falling out with their original manager Norman Sheffield?
They even wrote a song about Norman for crying out loud, “Death on Two Legs,” which got the band sued for defamation. But no, he isn’t in this movie whatsoever.
Why fabricate conflict when real conflict actually happened?
I guess they just wanted to make a familiar, easy to digest movie about Queen without a single care for staying true to the actual tale.
This movie doesn’t tell the story of Queen. It tells the story people expect from a generic Hollywood band movie.
Overall, I didn’t hate this film.
Like I said before, Rami Malek is fantastic. His performance as Freddie during Live Aid is an amazing recreation and the filmmakers did a wonderful job of capturing the feeling of actually being there.
But as for the story, this movie is full of misinformation and cluttered with Hollywood cliches. More than is forgivable in my opinion.
“Bohemian Rhapsody” is rated PG-13.
Next is “The Nutcracker and the Four Realms.”
After the recent death of her mother, Clara (Mackenzie Foy) is left a one of a kind priceless gift from her late mother. An intricate box with a keyhole, but no key.
Clara’s search for this key leads her into a mysterious world of four realms, filled with marvels such as living nutcracker soldiers, the Sugar Plum Fairy (Keira Knightley), and the tyrant Mother Ginger (Helen Mirren) with her legion of mice who will stop at nothing to keep Clara from retrieving her mother’s key.
I have to say, I haven’t been much of a fan of Disney’s live action offerings recently.
Between “A Wrinkle in Time,” “Christopher Robin,” “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales,” and the live action version of “Beauty and the Beast,” I don’t think I’ve enjoyed a non animated movie from Disney for past two years.
And sadly, this movie didn’t even come close to breaking that streak. In fact this might be the worst film of the lot.
But on the positive side of things, I supposed the acting is okay. At least for the most part.
Mackenzie Foy is certainly a young actress, but she has a surprising amount of good performances under her belt including major roles in “The Conjuring” and “Interstellar.”
And for what it’s worth, I think she makes for a perfectly fine lead here. Honestly, I don’t think anyone could have done better in her position.
Helen Mirren is also good, for the whole three or four scenes she’s in. Same with Morgan Freeman, who’s only in the movie once at the beginning and again at the end.
On the opposite side of things is Keira Knightley as the Sugar Plum Fairy. I have no idea what to make of her performance, but if you’ve seen the trailer for this movie, Knightley is just as strange and unsettling as you think she would be.
I think she was supposed to come across as eccentric, but in a likably way. Instead, between her strange soft spoken voice and bizarre mannerisms, she just comes across as downright creepy.
And it’s not like she’s only in a few scenes like Mirren or Freeman. Behind Clara and her living nutcracker friend Captain Philip (Jayden Fowora-Knight), Knightley gets the third most screen time in the entire film.
I just wanted her character to go away, but instead they kept on putting this insane Sugar Plum Fairy centerstage.
But unfortunately, Knightley’s bizarre performance is the least of this film’s problems.
The story here is just plain boring and there’s zero sense of urgency whatsoever.
It’s frustrating because the movie has a very clear, if incredibly simple, plot.
Clara needs to get the key. Everything in the film revolves around getting it.
So “alright,” I think, “let’s get that key!” But after a brief chase for our precious key, Clara takes a detour to an elegant castle, naturally trying on a shiny new dress in the process.
But “fine” I think.
“They’re at the castle, now they can regroup and track down that key!” The movie even raises the stakes and basically says “If we don’t get the key, we’ll all be annihilated!”
But instead of doing anything, the Sugar Plum Fairy takes Clara on a parade through town, on a hot air balloon ride, and they also watch some ballet together too just for heck of it.
Eventually though, later on in the film, Clara finally gets the key.
Now does she rush back to the safe castle as quickly as possible? Especially considering mere minutes ago she was running for her live?
No, of course not.
Clara and Philip decide to take a break while still inside the evil lady’s realm. A realm where moments before we saw hundreds of mice bursting out of the ground and kidnapping people with zero warning.
The two of them just sit down and have a nice five minute conversation without a single care for the world.
It’s so frustrating to watch. No one in this film seems to care to get anything done, even when their own lives are on the line.
Not to mention the movie is just plain dull. The pacing is terrible and no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t keep my eyes open during the film’s climax.
Yes, the climax. The part of the movie that supposed to be exciting and filled with action. That part put me right to sleep because at that point I just didn’t care about anything, or anyone, in the film.
I’m not sure what’s going on with Disney’s live action studios, but I’m definitely not a fan of it.
Maybe they’ll turn it around with “Mary Poppins Returns” in December. We’ll see. I have high hopes, especially with Emily Blunt and Lin-Manuel Miranda in the lead roles.
Until then though, it seems like The Mouse is determined to hand me nothing but one disappointing film after the next.
“The Nutcracker and the Four Realms” is rated PG.
Last this week is “Nobody’s Fool.”
Trying to get back on her feet, wild child Tanya (Tiffany Haddish) looks to her buttoned-up, by the book sister Danica (Tika Sumpter) to help her get back on track.
As these polar opposites collide, Tanya discovers that Danica’s picture-perfect life, including her mysterious boyfriend, may not be what it seems.
It’s movies like this one that truly make me question going to the theater every week.
It’s another Tyler Perry comedy for crying out loud.
I haven’t seen all of Perry’s films, I don’t think I nearly have the fortitude, but universally every single movie of his I’ve seen have at least one thing in common.
They’re all terrible.
Each one is just as awful as the last. I honestly don’t understand why his movies keep making money.
It’s like he has an endless supply of trash and everyone keeps coming back for more every time he takes out the garbage.
The production is lazy, which is typical for every Tyler Perry movie. I can’t believe he gets away with this level of ineptitude.
The film starts off with Danica showing her morning routine. No complaints in the first 10 seconds at least.
Seconds after the movie begins though, the film begins barraging the screen with a constant stream of text message bubbles. Messages back and forth between Danica and her mysterious boyfriend.
It might be the most lazy, half-baked way to introduce a main character that I’ve ever seen.
It’s like all the text messages were thrown in at the last second of production too.They don’t even put in the least bit of effort. Like showing Danica holding her phone, texting back and forth. They just throw the texts on the screen with no context.
I’m guessing Perry showed the movie to a focus group and they thought he didn’t set up Danica’s relationship with her boyfriend very well.
So instead of doing reshoots like most competent directors would, he just throws a bunch of text messages on the screen, because his movies are garbage and no one, including Perry himself, seems to care about their quality.
And of course the parade of awfulness doesn’t stop there.
The performances here are annoying all around.
Tiffany Haddish is a great comedic actress, but all they do with her in this film is make her loud and obnoxious.
Tika Sumpter isn’t any better, but instead of obnoxious, they just make her character shallow and unlikeable.
The story ends up being a frustrating love triangle between Danica, her mysterious boyfriend, and Frank (Omari Hardwick) a local coffee shop owner.
And if there’s anything I hate more than a love triangle, it’s a blasted love triangle in a Tyler Perry film.
I hate this movie. I hate all of Tyler Perry’s movies. I can’t believe people still pay to watch them.
Please stop seeing his movies. I don’t want to watch another one. Please.
“Nobody’s Fool” is rated R.