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Bohemian Rhapsody, a biopic about the early years of Queen, had a mixed reception. The film was very popular with audiences but less so with critics. Roger Taylor, an original member of the group, didn’t mince words when he was asked about critics’ takes on the film. Let’s see what he had to say about Bohemian Rhapsody’s detractors. 

Queen’s John Deacon, Freddie Mercury, Brian May, and Roger Taylor | Fryderyk Gabowicz/picture alliance via Getty Images

Roger Taylor fights back against ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ critics

Critical reception to the film was generally mixed; reviewers praised Bohemian Rhapsody for its performances, particularly for Rami Malek‘s portrayal of Queen’s original frontman, Freddie Mercury, though they criticized the film for being formulaic. While there was some nuance to reviews of the film, Roger Taylor’s reaction to those who disliked the film was simple and straightforward. 

Ultimate Classic Rock reported that when he was asked about the film’s naysayers, he said “F*ck you. F*ck you all the way to the bank.” Taylor didn’t just attack critics who put down the portrayal of Queen in Bohemian Rhapsody –  he seemed to attack the entire profession of film criticism.

Freddie Mercury, Brian May, Roger Taylor, and John Deacon in 1981 | Photo by Gavin Kent/Mirrorpix/Getty Images

“I think people know a lot more than film critics. And the word of mouth via social media is so much more powerful than [a] review from a guy who probably watches 40 movies a week and has probably lost the essence of the joy of a movie,” Roger said. 

The drummer said that English film critics appeared to want the film to fail, elaborating “We’re a funny old country, aren’t we? The trouble with [Queen] is, we’re too f*cking popular, and a lot of the media just hate that.” He added “there were many [reviews] that were kinda sneering and superficial. I thought, ‘You just don’t get it, do you? You weren’t moved.’”

‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ becomes influential

Although the film was not a major hit with critics, Bohemian Rhapsody helped to introduce Queen’s music to a new generation, the same way that Wayne’s World had done two decades prior. Despite Roger Taylor’s feelings about the reviews that the film received, Bohemian Rhapsody seems to be a net positive for the band. 

Taylor can take comfort in the fact that Bohemian Rhapsody was an influence on more critically successful films that came after it. Following the release of the film, several more movies about classic rock were green-lit by Hollywood. Yesterday, a film centering on the music of the Beatles, and Rocket Man, a biopic about Elton John, each received a more favorable critical response than Bohemian Rhapsody.

Brian May speaks out

Brian May of Queen | Noam Galai/Getty Images for Global Citizen

Brian May, the original guitarist for Queen, seems to have a more positive outlook towards the response to Bohemian Rhapsody. According to Exclaim!, May said “We’ve lived with this project for nine years and it’s incredible to see it doing so well. It came out to sh*tty reviews, as some of our work has before, but the public has embraced it magnificently.”

Bohemian Rhapsody isn’t the first Queen project to connect with the public but not with critics. A dystopian musical based on the band’s music called We Will Rock You received scathing reviews which haven’t dulled its popularity.