Movie Review – Bohemian Rhapsody

Bohemian Rhapsody – Brace yourselves; the Queen fans are likely to respond in force! Bohemian Rhapsody is a movie where the music makes the movie. In all honesty, it’s a pretty mediocre movie outside of the outstanding lead performance by Rami Malek as lead singer Freddie Mercury and a fantastic recreation of their 1985 Live Aid performance which serves as film’s finale. Technically, there’s really nothing wrong with the film. The camera work is solid and the concert set pieces are energetic enough. However, something is lost in the overall aesthetic. The first glaring problem is the play-it-safe screenplay. It is riddled with rock star movie cliche and cheesy, generic dialogue. With Queen members Brian May and Roger Taylor serving as co-executive producers, they have glossed over the darker moments of Mercury’s life and done everything they can to project a squeaky clean image of the band. Anyone who knows their musical history knows this wasn’t the case, but the script even has songs played in wrong eras for dramatic effect. The strength of musical bio-pics such as Ray and Straight Outta Compton were the fact that the audience got to see the depravity the protagonists fell to and how they overcame these obstacles. Human error adds humanity to the person. Here, the tribute and hero worship aspect of the subject overwhelms the dynamic, complex character Mercury certainly was and there are scenes that feel cartoon-ish at times. You never, ever see Mercury partaking in drugs; you just get in the allusions to drugs on a corner table. You never see Freddie dancing in the gay club he’s walking through; he’s like a ghost among the revelers. It’s very likely director Bryan Singer had to pull teeth from May and Taylor just to get in the one gay kiss scene in the film. And yet, they’ll show Mercury leering at a truck driver as he enters a truck stop men’s bathroom. It comes across as silly and laughable. In fact, most of the first half of the film feels more like caricature than true acting. Second, the ensemble cast around Malek just isn’t that good. They are average actors with no depth whatsoever to their characters. At times, it felt like watching a cheap VH1 musical production. We get no motivations, no background info on the rest of the band, no dirt so to speak…And finally, the dramatic cues. Some of them are pretty annoying. Every time a new song is introduced, it’s some epic revelation. The music swells up. It’s almost as if you have cue cards telling you its time to jam. Anyone could just put on Queen’s music and you’d get the same rush without all the fake tantrums, studio meltdowns and incredibly boring “personal” conversations. The movie is not a total loss however. A film full of constant Queen tunes is never a bad thing and it’s the songs that keep things moving forward. Also, actor Rami Malek, mostly known from the USA Network show Mr. Robot, gives the best performance of his career to date. He absolutely nails Freddie Mercury from the passion to the mannerisms and the overall look. Malek is a magnet in every scene he’s in. And the final recreation of Queen’s Live Aid performance is absolutely breathtaking. One only wishes that energy was sustained through the rest of the feature. Bohemian Rhapsody is more a nice tribute to one of the greatest lead men in rock and roll history but its certainly not an objective one. Fans of the band will likely lap it up, but if you want musical cinema, the current “A Star Is Born” is the far better production overall.

Claude Rains Was The Invisible Man…

85 years ago today, on November 13th, 1933, the original version of H.G. Wells’ “The Invisible Man” was released in theaters. Starring veteran stage and screen actor Claude Rains, it is among the very best of the classic Universal Horror films released during that era.

Here is the original trailer:

Toy Land, Toy Land, Little Girl And Boy Land…

Well, surprise, surprise!

In what seemed like a trilogy which was shut tight following three successful and highly lucrative films, a teaser trailer for Pixar’s “Toy Story 4” appeared yesterday promoting a release for Summer of 2019.

The adventures of Woody, Buzz Lightyear and the rest of the Toy gang seemed to have closed the book on any additional sequels with the perfect ending of 2010’s Toy Story 3. Alas, Disney Studios is a business and it’s not about to shut down a franchise that is making millions and millions of dollars around the world.

Not only that, but Disney Pixar released not one, but two teasers for the new film. The first one last night has the original Toy Story gang floating through the air before they crash in chaos. The second one released this morning introduces two new characters; a plush bear and a plush chick who are voiced by the comic team of Key & Peele.

You can watch both teaser trailers below:

Movie Review – Overlord

Overlord – A solid “B” movie wrapped in big budget production design. This is another one of those check your brain at the door and go for the ride movies, because if you hold it up to close scrutiny, you can pick it apart. If you’re looking for historical accuracy or some kind of deep meaning, look elsewhere; you won’t find it here. However, if you just want gunfire, explosions, blood splatter and elements of horror, this is right up your alley. A commando unit is about to parachute behind enemy lines before D-Day to knock a radar beacon from the top of a French cathedral. However, their aircraft is hit by enemy fire and only a few troops are able to escape the damaged plane. Knowing their mission, the soldiers march towards a Nazi-occupied French town where they are helped by a female smuggler. Unbeknownst to the soldiers, the Nazis are using the town folk to carry out devious experiments in which they are attempting to create an indestructible super soldier. And it just so happens that the laboratory is at the base of the same cathedral where the radar beacon is located. Alas, one of the soldiers is able to sneak into the Nazi camp where he discovers the evil experiments and also determines that the Nazis have yet to perfect the formula, leaving behind raging, super strong psychotic, zombie-like beings which are quite difficult to kill. Of course, the Nazis end up kidnapping the younger brother of the lady smuggler and the Allied troops carry on with a three-fold mission: save the boy, stop the experiments and destroy the radar beacon. This is pure, pulp nonsense, straight out of the old serial days of cinema, but its well staged with a lot of great set pieces and plenty of blood and guts thrown in for modern audiences. It’s a JJ Abrams produced film but it feels more like what you’d get it Quentin Tarantino directed Saving Private Ryan, but threw some zombies in for the hell of it. The acting isn’t great, some of the lines are cheesy, and the narrative doesn’t add up to much, but you’re really not going to see this kind of movie for that stuff anyways. Personally, I think they could have added a little more horror and a little less war battle sequences in Overlord, but on the whole, a good action-horror popcorn production.

Another Actor In Trouble With A Capital “N”

Actor Viggo Mortensen put his foot in his mouth while at a panel discussion for his new film “Green Book” which is getting accolades on the late season award circuit. In the movie, Mortensen plays a no-frills New York bouncer who takes a job as a driver for an African-American classical pianist (played by Academy Award winner Mahershala Ali) as he tours through the deep South in the 1960s.

Well, unfortunately, Mr. Mortensen must have thought he was still in character during this promotional panel because he happened to drop the “N” word while discussing the film. Of course, this went over like a lead balloon and was roundly condemned. Mortensen has since apologized for using the word:

“In making the point that many people casually used the ‘N’ word at the time in which the movie’s story takes place, in 1962, I used the full word,” Mortensen said in a statement to The Hollywood Reporter. “Although my intention was to speak strongly against racism, I have no right to even imagine the hurt that is caused by hearing that word in any context, especially from a white man.”

He also promised never to say it again.

It will be interesting to see if the gaffe will have any affect on ticket sales when “Green Book” opens in limited released next week on November 16th.

Let’s Play Like Perez #20

Vanity Magazine and The Hollywood Reporter broke the news yesterday that a “Breaking Bad” movie is in development from original series writer Vince Gilligan. The hugely popular series which ran from 2008-2013 on AMC was confirmed to be in the works by actor Bryan Cranston, who played the central figure Walter White on the program, during an interview on The Dan Patrick Show. It is rumored that the movie will focus on Walter White’s sidekick Jesse Pinkman (played by actor Aaron Paul) who we last saw escaping to freedom from the hands of evil drug lords at the end of the series finale.

It’s happening yo

11/7/18 – Image Of The Day

15 years ago today, on November 7th 2003, the movie “Elf” starring Will Ferrell was released in theaters. An instant Christmas classic right from the get-go, the film also starred Zooey Deschanel, Edward Asner, Bob Newhart, Peter Dinklage Mary Steenburgen and James Caan.

Talking about Elf so soon? Yeah well, if you can’t beat ’em, join ’em…time to get into the Holiday Spirit!

Movie Review – Can You Ever Forgive Me?

Can You Ever Forgive Me? – Breezy, yet surprisingly downbeat film based on true events about a down on her luck writer who resorts to literary forgeries to make a buck. Melissa McCarthy plays Lee Israel, a celebrity biographer of the 70’s and 80’s, who has found her writings are now out of vogue in the literary world. Recently fired from her nighttime copy editing job, the rent 3 months behind, her cat sick and an alcohol habit, Israel is just about at the end of her rope. After a chance meeting with a fellow down and out writer named Jack (an excellent Richard E. Grant) at the local bar, she gets the idea of forging literary letters from famous early 20th century figures and selling them to memorabilia dealers. Soon, Jack is helping out Lee with her deceptions and the odd couple are making some quick cash, but of course their little scheme is soon being investigated for fraud. McCarthy shows that she can act outside of the goofball comedy she’s known for and gives a solid performance as Israel. It’s no award worthy performance (at least in my opinion), but it’s a performance that shows promise. Don’t be surprised to see McCarthy in more dramatic roles in the future. However, it is veteran English actor Grant who steals the show as Israel’s flamboyant, homosexual skid row drinking buddy. He brings the charm and some moments of levity to a production that is often dour and borderline depressing. On the whole, Can You Ever Forgive Me? is a good little movie; nothing particularly great nor memorable, but passable fare for a rainy afternoon.