ALL-CONQUERING Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody plays fast and loose with the facts but loses none of its verve on the small screen.
Meanwhile, the lumbering period drama Peterloo suffocates under the weight of its own importance. And a festive family favourite gets an enjoyable animated update.
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(12A) 134 mins, out now
UNDERSTATED, documentary-style musical biopic with a low-key central performance from… OK, not really. The all-conquering Queen biopic is calibrated to deliver maximum enjoyment from the rock-out guitar version of the 20th Century Fox jingle onwards.
There’s far more to enjoy than Rami Malek’s Oscar-winning performance and those prosthetic teeth, which really should get their own mention in the credits.
Amid the wigs and Spinal Tap antics, there are winning supporting turns from the handful of adults in the room – Midsomer Murders’ Gwilym Lee gives the fundamentally comedic figure of Brian May a certain tragic dignity, Tom Hollander is a wry anti-presence as their wildly pedestrian lawyer-manager and Lucy Boynton is quietly heartbreaking as the woman Freddie loves with his heart and soul but not his body.
Elsewhere, subtlety is in short supply. The history is sketchy, the more colourful excesses of Mercury’s private life are relegated to a footnote and the dialogue occasionally teeters from knowing irony into head-slapping, groan-inducing territory.
But it’s impossible not to get swept along by the sheer verve of it all. Given this is the story of a rampantly self-destructive narcissist who contracts a deadly illness, it’s remarkably uplifting.
The highs are triumphant, the energy unstoppable. There’s surely scope for a Kenny Everett spin-off too.
Extras include the complete Live Aid set that forms the movie’s climax, as well as an interview with Malek, minus the false teeth.
In the week The Prodigy’s Keith Flint died aged just 49, we need all the icons we can get. Life is that much smaller without them.
(12A) 154 mins, out March 11
MIKE Leigh is one of Britain’s finest directors but this historical drama is epic only in terms of the disappointment it delivers. Boy, does it drag.
“What good is a parliament if it does not represent its people?” That’s the question at its heart – and one with resonance for everyone who voted Leave in the EU referendum.
Yet Leigh somehow strips all the urgency and drama from this account of the 1819 Peterloo Massacre, when troops waded into a Manchester crowd, killing 15 and injuring hundreds.
Instead of stately, it’s sluggish and leaden, dragged down by constant speechifying and over-explaining. It cries out for the Jimmy McGovern treatment.
Maxine Peake, Rory Kinnear and Martin Savage do solid work but are hung out to dry by a script that feels cut-and-pasted from GCSE textbooks.
Even the titular slaughter in the final reel is an oddly bloodless affair. Sabers emerge from victims the same pristine silver they went in.
Steven Spielberg’s Lincoln proved that heavyweight politics can make for rip-roaring entertainment.
This sinks in a quagmire of earnestness. Long before that fumbled anti-climax, any residual interest has petered out.
(U) 86mins, out now
IT is 18 years since Jim Carrey slapped on the green face paint to play Doctor Seuss’s much-loved festive grump.
This animated version more than holds its own – fun, lighter than Carrey’s interpretation and perfect family fare for Christmas.
Benedict Cumberbatch voices the title character, while Pharrell Williams narrates. Though Cumberbatch’s Grinch is less grotesque than Carrey’s – enjoying a warm relationship with his loyal dog Max, for instance – a vein of black comedy runs throughout.
There are plenty of jokes for grown-ups, while the soundtrack features the likes of Tyler the Creator and Run-DMC.
A colourful, uplifting way to keep the kids distracted, though understandably best kept for Christmas.
(15) 111 mins, out March 11
YOU know the story. Boy meets girl, girl travels to the bottom of the ocean in a hi-tech submersible, boy gets kidnapped by Somali pirates in jaunty matching headgear.
Alicia Vikander is the deep-ocean theorist, James McAvoy the security expert who blunders into the clutches of Islamist hellraisers who must have got a great deal on red and white check headscarves.
This oddball offering from veteran director Wim Wenders (Wings Of Desire) awkwardly melds romance, thriller and philosophical treatise, even a dash of The Life Aquatic.
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Separately, the leads are watchable – McAvoy in particular is his usual compelling presence. But Wenders has them spend too much time parroting cod-philosophy for any real chemistry to develop.
There are a couple of transcendent moments – and the movie looks beautiful. But too often this falls short while grasping for profundity and the conclusion doesn’t feel earned.
More of a damp squib than the crest of a wave.
Two and a half stars