Bohemian Rhapsody 4K Blu-ray Review
Entertainment in excess
Bohemian Rhapsody 4K Blu-ray Film Review
"We need a song teenagers can bang their heads to in a car. Bohemian Rhapsody is not that song."Bohemian Rhapsody.
I’m reminded of that old Morecombe and Wise sketch: André Previn says, “You’re playing all the wrong notes”, to which Eric retorts, “I’m playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order”.
So too does Bryan Singer’s take on Rock Gods: Queen, their rise from a university pubbing band to conquering the world, culminating with their triumphant set at the Live Aid concert in 1985; for while it contains plenty of accurate interactions between the band and how they gained their success, a lot of what actually happened occurred at different times than portrayed, or not actually at all in some cases – very much a case of dramatic license and never letting the truth get in the way of a good story.
For the story, as presented, is very good: a foot stamping, hand clapping singalong (incidentally how I saw it at the cinema) that is feel-good and uplifting. Indeed it has just won awards at this year’s Oscars, including Best Actor for Rami Malek as the flamboyant and exuberant front man of the band, Freddie Mercury. There is no denying that Malek carries the film, even if it never delves too deeply into the singer's sexuality, wild abandonment and outrageous drink and drug fuelled parties, preferring to err on the side of caution and add some (fake) drama into the mix. The breakup of the band and subsequent reconciliation for Live Aid is pure fabrication, as was Freddie’s knowledge of his AIDS at that time, however for the film narrative it adds a touch of pathos and great deal of heart, making that standout Live Aid performance all the more poignant.
Talking of which, the recreation of their performance is outstanding; anyone old enough to remember the event (I’m one) will recognise how accurately this film makes it; I have vivid memories of Freddie commanding the crowd, the hand clapping of Radio GaGa and the shear emotion given to We are the Champions, all of which is perfectly captured by the film makers.
Don’t come to Bohemian Rhapsody expecting the truth behind the band’s success or some background into Freddie and his sexuality; it is simply not that film – it is entertainment in excess, and on that level it does succeed.
Bohemian Rhapsody 4K Blu-ray Picture QualityBohemian Rhapsody was, for the majority, shot digitally using a combination of Arri Alexa 65 and SXT cameras with resolutions of 6.5K and 3.4K. There is a distinct dearth of definitive information about its Digital Intermediate, majority opinion suggest 2K, which has presumably been used for this Ultra HD Blu-ray. The disc, therefore, presents an up-scaled 3840 x 2160p resolution image in the widescreen 2.39:1 aspect ratio, and uses 10-bit video depth, a Wide Colour Gamut (WCG), High Dynamic Range, and is encoded using the HEVC (H.265) codec HDR10+. We reviewed the Region free UK Ultra HD Blu-ray release of Bohemian Rhapsody on a Panasonic 65DX902B Ultra HD 4K TV with a Panasonic DMP-UB400 Ultra HD Blu-ray player.
WCG and HDR really bring the image to life
There is a modest but noticeable up-turn in the detail afforded by the extra resolution; skin texture and clothing weaves, particularly Freddie’s more flamboyant clothing, show keener edges, indeed any close ups fair better – check out the water on the drums, or the gaudy wall coverings, or the fur of the cats. The few landscape shots are gorgeous (overlooking the recording studios).
Once you factor in the WCG and HDR the image really comes to life; all the primaries fair better, bright stage lights are more resolved and deeper, while there is an authenticity to natural lighting. Skin tones occasionally tend towards the orange, but for the main are natural enough.
Black level is wonderful, being deep and hiding plenty of shadow detail when required, this helps to add some decent depth to the image, be that on stage or in a bedroom. The white end pushes the image out, with incredible highlights; stage lights, glints off the guitars or pianos, all without clipping.
The original source is clean and bright without blemish while there are no digital issues to contend with, aside from some occasional ‘green screen obvious’ moments. An Excellent image.
Bohemian Rhapsody 4K Blu-ray Sound QualityThe Dolby Atmos track has some truly amazing moments, principally during any of the concert scenes, but lighter moments also benefit from the added channels. Subtle moments such as the party in Freddie’s mansion or during dinner before the band’s signing have an additional layer of ambience afforded by the extra speakers. Effects such as weather (the rainstorm when Freddie fires Paul) are well realised and give a true sense of immersion. Dialogue is clear and concise, prioritised to the fontal array, though given directionality when required, Freddie’s confession to Mary with the TV in the background is a delight.
But it is with the concerts where the real meat lies. This included the band’s early performances in the pubs, where instruments are dull and the small audience are within the music. We Will Rock You is incredibly done, with the thumping of the feet below you, clapping all around, while the music assaults from the front – expertly seen. Similarly during the Live Aid concert as the camera pans around the sound follows through the crowd while the music sweeps across. Bass is phenomenal, not because of its subsonic nature, but more the natural thump of the bass drum; it is like being at a real gig; indeed anytime the band play is demo worthy material!
Bohemian Rhapsody 4K Blu-ray ExtrasUHD
The Complete Live Aid Movie Performance – Essentially an extended scene: the full 21 minute recreation of the iconic Live Aid performance; about as good as it gets.
The Complete Live Aid Movie Performance – As above.
Rami Malek: Becoming Freddie – 16 minute feature that looks at Malek’s performance and the attributes he call upon and what he drew on to re-create the persona of a rock god.
The Look and Sound of Queen – 21 minute feature that interviews cast and crew on the band’s music and stage performances.
Recreating Live Aid – 20 minute feature that covers the final scene in the film, plenty of interviews with cast and crew as well as with Brian May and Roger Taylor who talk about the concert as they remember it.
Bohemian Rhapsody 4K Blu-ray VerdictBohemian Rhapsody is a loose retelling of the story of Queen, from their formation to the triumphant performance at 1985’s Live Aid concert. Rami Malek’s performance as front man Freddie Mercury won him an Oscar and he is suitably flamboyant in the role, and while the film covers most of the salient points in the band’s career, a lot are either out of place or completely made for the sake of drama. Don’t come to the film expecting the truth behind the band’s success or anything to do with Freddie’s outlandish lifestyle and sexuality; this film is all about the entertainment value, and on that level it is an outstanding success.
As a 4K UHD the set from Fox is great; the image is well detailed, with excellent colouring and amazing blacks, easily besting the Blu-ray, while the Dolby Atmos surround track is an absolute triumph and demo worthy during any of the band’s concerts (We Will Rock You is incredible). The extra features are somewhat limited but do cover some good ground – terrific to see the full Live Aid concert.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £24.99
Our Review Ethos
To comment on what you've read here, click the Discussion tab and post a reply.