Todd Malkin’s review published on Letterboxd:
Biopics aren't really my genre. When they work for me, they are usually either more autobiographical, or they have a central emotional throughput. In Bohemian Rhapsody, they tried to do both of those things, and more. So... it ended up being a frustrating experience glossed over by high-production value.
I think the movie was received well largely because of the good will generated by the music (which is the best part of the movie, duh), and also Rami Malek's transformation. Which, was awesome, but... they made the mistake of showing Freddy Mercury during the closing credits, which reduced Malek's performance to a pantomime by comparison. I don't think anyone could truly match Mercury's unique, transfixing electricity. It's sad, but seeing Mercury at the end was my favorite part of the movie.
Basically, Rhapsody seems to have too many masters. Is it the story of a lonely man who needs a family? A rock opera? A band saga? A man with no friends? A man with gay friends? A man betrayed by his friends? A man with AIDS? An era that doesn't understand a man with AIDS? A man driven into hiding by fame? A man who... on and on. It's all those things and more, which is too much for my preferences.
I thought First Man succeeded because it had a simple message: Armstrong lost a child, and it drove him inward to strive to do the insurmountable. Along the way, he pays a horrible price, and loses friends, but he keeps going. He pays tribute to his friends by making it to the moon, and says goodbye to his daughter there. Done. Did the film have problems? Yeah, but it felt "true" by sticking its themes.
I guess I longed for Rhapsody to attain that simple, emotional center. Thinking about it last night, I realized that Queen band members were heavily involved... I'm sure that mucked up the waters and made it hard to find the truth... even though they had the "facts." Deeply skewed, I might add. (For a movie that covered everything, they sure did skip over the Dungeons & Dragons prog rock and Flash Gordon though!)
I was expecting the editing, which won an Oscar, to be a lot more annoying than it was. It was annoying at times, but not always. It did feel like they were trying to create energy where there was none.
Queen are fascinating. Freddy Mercury even more so. Many opportunities were lost.