Eddie the Eagle (DVD)

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Eddie the Eagle (DVD)

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Review of "Eddie the Eagle (DVD)"

published 15/02/2017 | afy9mab
Member since : 11/07/2000
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All of my DVD reviews are film only, so do not include pricing information.
Super
Pro A lot of fun, engaging performances and good direction.
Cons A little clumsy in places and not very factually accurate.
exceptional
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"The Eagle Has Landed (On His Face)"

FILM ONLY REVIEW

Michael ‘Eddie’ Edwards is an unlikely but courageous ski-jumper, who never loses faith in himself, even if the sporting establishment and an entire nation sees him as a joke. With the help of a charismatic but rebellious coach, he takes on the naysayers and wins the hearts of sports fans around the world when he qualifies for the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics.

The British film industry isn’t well-known for making feel-good movies, but it looks as though actor-turned-director Dexter Fletcher is out to change that. I loved his first two films (Wild Bill” and The Proclaimers musical “Sunshine on Leith”), so going to see his latest film was a no-brainer for me, even though the trailer didn’t look very promising.

Fletcher’s visual style is pretty unassuming. He shoots on film in a series of believable locations, but allows the story to speak for itself rather than distracting from the narrative with unnecessarily flashy camerawork. The film is bathed in a nostalgic golden glow throughout and there is plenty of convincing period detail. From the tonged hair, side ponytails, mullets and hideous acrylic pullovers to the garish snowsuits and eye-searing anoraks of the skiing competitors and the over-abundance of stonewashed denim, Fletcher doesn't stint on the fashion crimes of the 80s. He uses actual footage of the 1988 Winter Olympics to help tell the story, but doesn’t bother to match the grainy style of late-1980s television, which I think is a good call, as it would be difficult to watch for the full running-time.

Ski-jumping has never appealed to me. But the director has managed to make it look exciting. He uses low and high camera angles and swooping shots to emphasise the height of the ski jumps. He employs point of view shots, slow-motion spills, digitally tweaked high-speed wipe-outs and snappily edited montages of fall after fall which underline the danger involved. They are all so well-timed that I winced with every tumble. Admittedly the special effects don’t always mesh with their surroundings, so it’s clear when the actors aren’t actually performing their own stunts. But by and large there are enough bone-crunching spills to convince.

The film isn’t what you’d call a challenging watch. It is fitted into the simplistic framework of a sports movie, with all of its attendant triumphs and disasters, in addition to a LOT of training montages. But although it is predictable, it has plenty of heart. His quest to prove his critics wrong drives the story and leads to some fist-pumping moments of triumph. There is enough character development to make the players appear sympathetic. It would be easy for Fletcher to present the main protagonist as a one-note slapstick stooge, but he focusses just as much on the spirit and determination of the character as the pratfalls and face-plants. Consequently, he comes across as an endearing underdog rather than a deluded wannabe. Fletcher’s comic timing is strong and he makes the most of the slapstick and situation comedy. The director’s affection for his hero is palpable and translates easily to the audience. Admittedly, the members of the sporting establishment are two-dimensional baddies, but they give the main protagonist someone to fight against.

The director has assembled a solid ensemble, who all have decent comic timing, which is backed up by effective editing. The tone is resolutely hopeful throughout, while the pacing is reasonably tight (although the film could probably have lost another ten minutes without any serious damage to the story). However, the hundred-and-six-minute running-time doesn’t feel excessive.

The screenplay by Sean Macaulay and Simon Kelton is based on the incredible true story of Eddie Edwards. The writers have played fast and loose with the facts and have boiled the story down to its essence to make it a very clear-cut underdog tale. Eddie is presented as a total loser, who has never excelled at anything (in spite of being a pretty good downhill speed skier in real-life), whose only support (aside from his own unwavering self-belief) is that of his doting mum (when in reality, his father was also very supportive). But the biggest change to the story is an entirely fabricated coach. If anything, the real story is even more remarkable because Edwards did everything on his own. However, watching a lone man slog through training and plod from one competition on his own is a hard sell cinematically. The introduction of a trainer, who can act as a sounding board, a cynical counterpoint to the hero’s boundless optimism and a support system adds an extra dimension to the film. The fact that the main protagonist initially has to win him over adds to the challenges he faces. It also mirrors his struggle for recognition on a smaller scale. In addition, it allows the production to follow the sports movie template more closely, by throwing in a redemptive character arc for the coach and as many training montages as you can shake a stick at.

The characterisation is solid throughout. It would have been easy to write the maim protagonist as a figure of fun, but the writers have opted to celebrate him. Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards is written as one of life’s losers, whose irrepressible good humour and boundless enthusiasm for a sport that rarely loves him back, make him a character you can really root for. His dogged determination to excel at a sport that seems so far beyond his capabilities and everyone else’s expectations gives him an almost heroic quality. Bronson Peary is a stock sports movie mentor; a washed-up former ski-jumper, who finds solace in the bottle. His bitterness and cynicism are challenged by the unfettered enthusiasm and good nature of his charge. Eddie’s mum Janette is endlessly supportive of her son and his ambitions, while his dad, Terry is annoyed by what he sees as his son’s inability to face reality and get a real job. The British Olympic Association are portrayed as the villains of the piece - a bunch of elitist snobs, who are determined to prevent Eddie from competing, purely because he doesn't live up to their perceptions of what an Olympian should be. The other competitors are equally snide and condescending towards Eddie, bullying and belittling him at every opportunity. German café owner Petra is initially his only moral support when away from home, although her interest isn’t solely in his sporting prowess. The dialogue is entertaining, if a little heavy-handed at times.

I initially thought “Kingsman” star Taron Egerton was too good-looking to play Eddie Edwards, but it’s amazing what a permanently jutting chin and oversized glasses can do. He plays him as a sweet-natured, bumbling innocent, who refuses to give up on his dream, regardless of the obstacles and setbacks he suffers. Hugh Jackman is gruff and grumpy as Eddie’s reluctant coach Bronson Peary. He plays him with the easy charm of an A-lister with nothing to lose, retaining his likeability throughout. Keith Allen is engaging as Eddie’s increasingly exasperated father, Terry. He’s a salt-of-the-earth working-class bloke, who simply cannot get his head around his son’s ambitions. Jo Hartley is a delight as Eddie’s mum, Janette. She's warm, sympathetic and utterly supportive and is exactly the kind of mother you'd really want. Tim McInnerny is slimy and insincere as sour-faced head of Olympic selection Dustin Target. National treasure Jim Broadbent also shows up as a cheesy sports commentator, while Christopher Walken appears as Peary’s former mentor.

The synth-heavy score by Matthew Margeson is a fitting accompaniment to the production, as the style suits the period setting and knowingly recalls Vangelis' music from "Chariots of Fire". There are occasional additions of heavy percussion and choral arrangements, to underline certain events. Although rarely subtle, the music works. The other soundtrack choices include a plethora of 80s’ number including remix of Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s “Two Tribes”, Howard Jones’ “Eagle Will Fly Again”, “The Sky’s the Limit” by Nik Kershaw, “Real Gone Kid” by Deacon Blue and an obvious but perfectly timed use of “Jump” by Van Halen. In addition, there is a humorous use of Ravel’s “Bolero” and a handful of tracks written by Gary Barlow for various 80s’ hitmakers.

I loved “Eddie the Eagle”. It was one of those films that left me with a huge grin on my face. I thought the direction was confident and although the writing was predictable, it was nevertheless a satisfying take on the sports movie. I really enjoyed the performances, even if they were a little broad at times. It’s the kind of movie to watch if you’re after something to cheer you up on a gloomy day. It may not be especially original or surprising, but it is very well done. I’d recommend it.

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Comments on this review

  • kojak123 published 20/02/2017
    Fantastic write-up. I have no idea this was directed by Dexter Fletcher (and after a follow-up google, I had no idea Dexter Fletcher was 51 years old!)
  • DodoRabbit published 19/02/2017
    Well reviewed :)
  • elfbwillow published 17/02/2017
    Well reviewed :)
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Product Information : Eddie the Eagle (DVD)

Manufacturer's product description

Product Details

Classification: Parental Guidance

DVD Region: DVD

Main Language: English

Video Category: Feature Film

Actor(s): Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman, Christopher Walken, Rune Temte, Tim McInnerney

Director(s): Dexter Fletcher

Production Year: 2016

EAN: 5055761907674

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Listed on Ciao since: 23/06/2016