Many of the critics simply hated it, The New York Times reviewer A. O. Scott summarizing, early on in his review:
Howard and I, who grew to adulthood in this period, had not ever known of Queen. Sure we heard of the group, but, as Howard reports, we presumed that they took over the seemingly “gay” moniker to simply mock it, that perhaps they were just a grunge group, rock-a-billy singers (we did know, obviously, the clap along songs “We Will Rock You” and “We Are the Champions”; you’d have to have been dead to never have heard these), knowing nothing of Mercury’s history, let alone of the crazy, psychedelic operatic song “Bohemian Rhapsody,” with the high counter-tenor reaches of “Galileo.” Had we known, we might have loved it!
In fact, Malek, with his implanted incisors, gives us a view of a highly, highly sexualized being at fight with the world in which he inhabits, even among his mostly heterosexual band-members, who married, but nonetheless, allowed themselves to collectively portray the kind of faux gay sexuality in their guitar playing, Brian May (played by Gwilym Lee), bass guitar, John Deacon (Joseph Mozzello), and drummer, Roger Taylor (Ben Hardy) roles. They knew who their lead singer was, and encouraged his open sexuality, despite the times, while keeping their personal distances. This is not simply the story of Freddie Mercury, but of the lives of the strange family named Queen. I kept being reminded of Sister Sledge's "We Are Family." So why should the movie haunt the alleys of Freddie’s sexual indecencies—I’ve been there, and I can tell you it’s kind of boring.
And perhaps the most touching moment of the film is when Freddie visits a clinic where he finds that he is HIV-positive. As he is about to exit the building, a handsome young boy, showing signs of the effects of AIDS on his fact, calls out Queen's who shout to his audiences; in performance it is a whoop of joy which whips up his crowds in participatory singing; but in this scene, is a cry-out of death, a kind of sign of recognition of a fellow now walking-dead.