Judge Kent Dixon is a little silhouetto of a man.
Our review of Queen: Days of Our Lives, published February 4th, 2012, is also available.
In this film, for the first time, it is the band that tells their story.
I was lucky enough to grow up with two older brothers who were in their teens when I was still just a kid. As a result, I was privy to the best possible classical education: Bugs Bunny, Monty Python and, of course, Queen. I remember closely studying the amazing artwork on my brother's "News of the World" album time and time again, while I soaked in the amazing sounds of one of the greatest stadium rock bands of all time. I was just eight years old, but my love for Queen was planted deep back then and over time, those roots have become very strong.
As a long-time fan of the band, I jumped at the opportunity to review the Blu-ray release of Queen: Days of Our Lives and I wasn't disappointed. Originally airing in May 2011 in two separate parts on BBC and reaching an impressive three million viewers, this documentary really stands out as a near-complete chronicle of Queen. From the early years when guitarist Brian May and drummer Roger Taylor first played together in a band called "Smile," through to Freddie Mercury's declining health and eventual death, the film hits both the highs and the lows, finally wrapping up with a solid feeling that Queen's enduring legacy seems to be stronger than ever. There is some fantastic content on this release that should more than satisfy even die-hard fans, including Queen's appearance on Britain's Top of the Pops music show in February 1974, footage from various studio recording sessions, bits and pieces of American tour footage and much more. As much as I thought I knew about Queen, it was fascinating to learn among other things that it took them almost eight years to really strike a chord in America and despite huge successes with record sales and live performances in their early career, the band nearly went bankrupt and almost had to fold, all due to a band management deal.
As thorough as the content is overall, there are some rather large gaps which would have made Queen: Days of Our Lives even that much stronger. The absence of any current interview from bass player John Deacon is a real head-scratcher. Deacon has participated in biographical content on the band in the past, but for whatever reason he is completely absent from this presentation, aside from historical interview footage, which is fortunately quite strong. Even May and Taylor seem to steer clear of any real references to John, as though they have been directed to leave him out of their comments on the band's history. It's unfortunate, as with Mercury gone, Deacon would no doubt have offered a unique and valuable additional perspective on Queen, their history and their legacy. Another topic completely left out is Queen's contributions to the cult films Flash Gordon and Highlander. This is a missed opportunity, as their songs and musical compositions contributed significantly to the success of both films and provide some of the moments that fans love most. Finally, there is no mention of the significant impact Queen had or continues to have on pop culture. From sports teams chanting "We Are the Champions" and "We Will Rock You" to the hilarious sequence from the 1992 film Wayne's World where the main characters and their friends belt out the words to "Bohemian Rhapsody," the band and their music have left a deep impression on world culture.
For Queen fans that haven't seen this documentary, the primary question becomes whether to purchase it in SD or HD format. If you have Blu-ray capability, definitely take that direction, as for just a few dollars more you'll at least be getting the contemporary interview footage in sharp, vivid 1080i HD. Granted, the majority of the other content is of mixed quality, coming from historical footage and interviews, but the few extra bucks will be well spent. Even though much of the content is from SD sources, the audio and video presentations on this release are solid. This is not a concert release, so abandon any expectations of consistent picture quality, but the producers have gone to great lengths to weave the content together in a logical flow. While much of the original audio will have come from analog sources, the 2.0 mix is well balanced and relatively clean throughout. The extra features include seven new videos of some of Queen's most famous songs, and additional content and interviews that were not included in the main documentary.
Easily one of the most popular, prolific, and memorable bands of all time, Queen made their mark on the world early in their music career and even once the core foursome dissolved, Brian May and Roger Taylor have continued on with other singers making guest appearances with the band. The true test of staying power lies in the way every new generation embraces the music of four lads from London. It's a kind of magic indeed.
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