First reactions: Rami Malek is an 'amazing' Freddie Mercury in 'Bohemian Rhapsody'
'Bohemian Rhapsody' is a foot-stomping celebration of Queen, their music and their extraordinary lead singer Freddie Mercury, who defied stereotypes and shattered convention to become one of the most beloved entertainers on the planet. USA TODAY
How do you fill shoes as big as Freddie Mercury's?
Quite well, at least according to those who have seen Rami Malek's take on the Queen frontman in "Bohemian Rhapsody," which started screening over the weekend for critics ahead of its release November 2 in theaters.
Official reviews are embargoed until October 23, although people have already taken to Twitter to rave about Malek, who delivers a star-making turn on the big screen following his breakout on the USA drama "Mr. Robot."
"Rami Malek is outstanding," writes Uproxx senior entertainment writer Mike Ryan, who otherwise took issue with the biopic's flimsy narrative.
Other journalists were similarly lukewarm on the movie itself -- calling it a "glorified Wikipedia entry" and merely "OK" -- but wer effusive in their praise of Malek's transformative performance.
"Bohemian" traces Mercury's meteoric rise from airport baggage handler to bona fide rock star, writing and singing numerous hits with Queen including "We Are the Champions," "Killer Queen" and "We Will Rock You." The film also covers the British band's behind-the-scenes drama, Mercury's coming out as bisexual and AIDS diagnosis, leading to his death in 1991 at age 45.
While some journalists (this one included) were impressed by the movie's many live performances -- which culminate in Queen's iconic Live Aid show in 1985 -- others were left cold, particularly after seeing the similarly music-driven "A Star is Born" with Lady Gaga and Bradley Cooper.
Although "Bohemian" has only just begun screening for journalists, many award pundits on GoldDerby.com already predict that the film will net Malek his first Oscar nomination for best actor.
The long-gestating biopic -- which was originally set to star Sacha Baron Cohen -- made headlines last fall when director Bryan Singer was fired during shooting, after repeated absences forced Fox to halt production. Singer, who was accused last year of raping a 17-year-old boy but denied allegations, still has the directing credit on the movie.