Pop Musicals

This isn’t a proper review of Bohemian Rhapsody as I am rather late to the party. I will give my thoughts on it but it just made me think of a recent trend in the genre.

To start with I thought it was an entertaining film. The actors are totally convincing as the band members and the live performances (although mimed) are full of energy and excitement. However, the story is rather light on reality. It felt like the Queen story as told by Richard Curtis. Nothing feels real. There are numerous scenes that seem to stop the story to show an amusing telling of how each of the hits was written and recorded. None of which I believed. Freddie Mercury’s darker side was only hinted at and I thought it needed a longer running time to cover his whole life rather than ending on a complete recreation of the Live Aid performance. I would love to have seen a grittier epic movie.

I blame Mama Mia for this. Since the success of that film, the subsequent sequel and The Greatest Showman there is a move towards musical films that rely on the audiences love of classic songs (or in the case of the Greatest Showman – just great songs) with the rest of the film filled by fuffy inconsequential storylines. To be fair to the Greatest Showman, it did have great songs, production and action. Its just the story did not reflect the truth of the subject (if anyone actually cares). This year sees another one in the form of Rocketman, about Elton John. I suspect this will follow the formula of Bohemian Rhapsody.

I am not saying its wrong for these films to be enjoyed by audiences. They are great fun. It’s just a missed opportunity to combine the music with a great script. I would, personally much rather watch Les Miserables, The Nightmare before Christmas, Backbeat or La La Land. I admit (partly thanks to my daughter) that I do have a soft spot for The Greatest Showman.

What do you think? Are you looking forward to Mama Mia 3 or Rocketman?

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