Obviously, we’re reaching full drama.
It’s actually surprisingly restrained. Just escalating guitars, escalating drums, and then an eventual splurge of drums, horns, guitar and everything. Lasers throughout, and a big crash at the end of the musical part. Dale shouts ‘Flash’ desperately at one point.
In a surprisingly bathetic appearance, there’s then just a bit of silence until the golden drone bot tells Flash he’s won.
There’s actually a little spooky bit too, to allow for some of the emperor’s stumbling around at this point.
Ming’s pretty badass at this point, even if he failed to step out of the way of the spike on the end of the war rocket. In the film, Flash demands surrender or death, and Ming points out that his death is not a matter to be left in the hand of mere Earthlings, using his ring to vanish himself. I think it’s a fair point. Flash is kind of a smug git.
And of course, Ming’s magic ring gets picked up at the end, so it’s possible he had a get out of death free card.
It’s all very weird though. I don’t think stabbing someone with a spaceship is the most reliable means of regime change, and for a crash landing, Flash is remarkably unscathed.
So a weird climax for a weird climax. The music never quite gets up to eleven, in the way Queen normally find pretty natural. Perhaps it’s just listening to this piece in isolation. Separated from the build up, the persistence of the different interlocking themes and dramas of the preceeding tracks, this just feels like a brief exercise in guitar crunching. More like a warm up than a finale. But as the evolution of the steady pulsing throb, and whirling guitar dynamics of the previous fights, weddings and dives…
This is my problem. I’m once again attempting to deconstruct an isolated element of a much larger whole. No track on the second side (well, at least since Flash came back) is supposed to stand alone. It’s all supposed to be accompanied, not just by the visuals, but by the dramatic build up.
It’s a fool’s game. A cruel trap set up to mock any naive reviewer intent on breaking up the music of Queen into it’s internal parts. It’s a record that can’t be exploded.
Despite the explosion in this very track.
It’ll be fine though. The problematically represented villain has been destroyed by the avatar of manifest destiny. That crash is the crash of a despotic tyranny being destroyed by a footballer whose only contribution is having women fancy him and mewling about teamwork.
But it’s fine, because he’s pretty, and that means he’s the good guy.
It’s a weird film, politically, is all I’m saying. Even beyond the obviously racist stereotyping running through it like a spine of ‘if you borrow your aesthetics from racist sources, you’re going to run right into racism’.
But it crashes, it ends, and the drama is there. Guitars rage, lasers blast, drums wail and Dale calls out.
Queen: An Exploded Diagram is me having big and little thoughts about every Queen song in chronological order. If you want to support me, making it more financially viable and easier to explain to people at parties, please back my patreon.
Illustration by Emma.