Bohemian Rhapsody

November 6, 2018 by  
Filed under Kiko, Reviews

Starring: Rami Malek, Lucy Boynton, Ben Hardy
Directed by: Bryan Singer (“The Usual Suspects”)
Written by: Anthony McCarten (“The Theory of Everything”)

From a cinematic standpoint, there is something deeply fulfilling about witnessing the creation of a song — from the seedling of an idea inside a musician’s head to the concept taking shape to form the perfect harmony or poetry or beat. Whether it’s in a makeshift studio in Memphis spitting out gangsta rap like in 2005’s “Hustle & Flow” or in the hands of professional producers recording “Good Vibrations” like in 2014’s “Love & Mercy,” the birth of a song for the big screen can be thrilling if done correctly.

In “Bohemian Rhapsody,” the musical biopic of Queen vocalist Freddie Mercury, the opportunity to craft these types of memorable scenes exists — especially with the many hits the British rock band had in the ’70s and ’80s — but Oscar-nominated screenwriter Anthony McCarten (“The Theory of Everything”) only manages to partially recreate the magic audiences can just imagine took place between the walls of a Queen recording session. Watching drummer Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy) do 30 takes of “Galileo!” doesn’t cut it.

Still, with “Bohemian Rhapsody” immersed in as much of Queen’s music as it could possibly fit into a 134-minute-long feature film, it’s hard to argue that Queen’s catalog wasn’t treated with the utmost respect. And with actor Rami Malek (TV’s “Mr. Robot”) transforming into a larger-than-life legend like Freddie and delivering the best performance of his young career — and an Oscar-worthy one at that — he keeps the film from going completely out of tune.

“Bohemian Rhapsody” is an irrefutable crowd-pleaser — a sort of high-energy concert movie posing as a dramatic biopic. (It probably won’t be uncommon if moviegoers start to jam out to the most dynamic scenes.) Even when he’s not center stage, Malek is a rock star. Much like Joaquin Phoenix’s Johnny Cash in the 2005 biopic “Walk the Line,” he’s not a dead-ringer for Freddie, but has no problem capturing his I-don’t-give-a-fuck attitude, flamboyant nature and unbridled talent.

Where the film falters, however, is in the formulaic way McCarten assembles the finer points of Freddie’s life and career and how unsure he seems to be in dealing with the most sensitive issues the rocker goes through, including his coming to terms with his homosexuality, which McCarten skims through without much detail. If anything is frustrating about “Bohemian Rhapsody,” it’s the kid-glove treatment it gets from the script.

But Malek. Oh, Rami Malek. It’s virtually impossible not to recommend “Bohemian Rhapsody” based on his performance alone. “A Star is Born” actors Bradley Cooper and Lady Gaga might’ve been the on-stage performers everyone was talking about last month, but it’s a new day and Malek is “traveling at the speed of light.” Call him Mr. Fahrenheit.

Shrek Forever After

May 21, 2010 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Mike Myers, Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz
Directed by: Mike Mitchell (“Sky High”)
Written by: Josh Klausner (“Date Night”) and Darren Lemke (“Lost”)

“Shrek Forever After” is being labeled as “The Final Chapter” of a 9-year-long fairytale franchise and well it should be. It’s a sequel that’s squeezing out what little magic is left in it’s ogre-sized tank. It might be superior to the slaphappy third installment in 2007, but there’s still not enough originality to make it a truly happily-ever-after.

In “Forever After,” DreamWorks Animation and screenwriters Josh Klausner (“Date Night”) and Darren Lemke (“Lost”) toss a little of Frank Capra’s classic “It’s a Wonderful Life” into the mix as a more mature Shrek returns to a Shrek-less version of Far Far Away.

With the everyday repetition of his family life (changing baby ogre diapers isn’t as adventurous as he thought it would be), Shrek doesn’t feel like the same nasty ogre that once instilled fear into everyone. Instead of running for the hills when Shrek is near, the villagers now look upon him as a celebrity.

In an attempt to revisit his glory days, Shrek signs a pact with the villainous Rumplestiltskin (Walt Dohrn), who has held a grudge with the lovable ogre since he ruined him chance to take over the kingdom years ago. All Shrek wants is one more day where he can feel like the ogre he used to be. Rumple, however, has other ideas.

Transporting into an alternative universe where he was never born, the Shrek realizes that a lot has changed in Far Far Away. Fiona (Cameron Diaz) is now a strapping warrior leading an underground ogre resistance; Donkey (Eddie Murphy) pulls a carriage for some evil, whip-whapping witches; and Puss in Boots (Antonio Banderas) has packed on a few pounds and become a lazy house cat.

To break the spell and return to his regular life, Shrek must get Fiona to fall in love with him all over again and share in “True Love’s Kiss.” Isn’t breaking a spell with a kiss as listless as a storybook tale can go these days?

As in the last two “Shrek” movies, it’s Banderas’ Puss in Boots who steals most of the scenes. Even though there’s not much swordplay in this last film, the now pudgy feline with the Spanish accent is able to match the energy of the new characters, including an army of personable ogres (Craig Robinson and Jane Lynch give funny performances). Cameos by the Gingerbread Man (Conrad Vernon) are also enjoyable. One of the best parts of the movie is when Gingy gives his best impression of a gladiator chopping down fierce animal cookies in a coliseum.

Despite some character highlights, “Shrek Forever After” doesn’t reach the level of the first two installments. It may be the darkest of the series, but it’s light on charm and all around cleverness.

The Love Guru

June 17, 2008 by  
Filed under Reviews

Starring: Mike Myers, Jessica Alba, Justin Timberlake
Directed by: Marco Schnabel (debut)
Written by: Mike Myers (“Austin Powers International Man of Mystery”) and Graham Gordy (“War Eagle, Arkansas”)

It’s been six years since comedian/actor Mike Myers wrapped up his Austin Powers trilogy with “Goldmember,” and since then hasn’t returned to the writer’s chair until now. With “The Love Guru,” it only takes him 90 minutes to prove that six years away wasn’t long enough.

In the film, Myers plays Pitka, a love guru who is brought to Canada by Toronto Maple Leafs hockey team owner Jane Bullard (Jessica Alba) so he can mentor their star player Darren Roanoke (Romany Malco), who hasn’t been playing up to standard because of a broken heart. His girlfriend has left him for Jacques Grande (Justin Timberlake), a hockey nemesis who is famous for being anatomically blessed.

Pitka takes the job when he finds out that if he cures Darren, he can land a guest spot on the Oprah Winfrey Show and becomes as famous as real-life guru Deepak Chopra (cue the Chopra/Oprah gags).

Mike Myers is a child in a man’s body and sometimes children, although they have good intentions when they stand up in front of a group of adults and tell a joke, just aren’t that funny. He might have a few good musical numbers left in him, but building an entire movie on puns, vulgar surnames, bodily fluids, and acronyms is fatal filmmaking.