Movie Review – Eddie the Eagle

eddie-the-eagle-movie-poster-2

REVIEWER’S NOTE: Basically, the first paragraph of this review is a cut-and-paste of part of a review I wrote for the Japanese film, Flying Colors. I chose to do this because they are both similar in terms of genre and execution.

EXPECTATIONS: Cool Runnings meets Billy Elliot.

REVIEW: Biographical films, especially ones that revolve around triumphs of the human spirit, can range from the truly inspirational, i.e. The Pursuit of Happyness; to award-bait films like the dull and manipulative The Blind Side; to unmitigated disasters like the agonizing Patch Adams. But very few of those films show a comedic side i.e. in a very twisted way, The Wolf of Wall Street and this is where Eddie the Eagle comes in. Refusing to take the story in an overly serious way and dwelling on the absurd side of the true story of Michael “Eddie” Edwards, Eddie the Eagle is crowd-pleasing and fun entertainment for the masses with plenty of help from the likable leads and Dexter Fletcher’s sensitive direction that makes the story more than just afternoon TV fodder and turns it into something that is quite inspirational for an underdog film as well as an biographical film.

eddie-eagle-1024

Rising star Taron Egerton stars as the titular character, an incredibly optimistic yet under-talented 22-year old who dreams of being an Olympian, to the annoyance of many, especially his stern father (Keith Allen). After many setbacks like peer pressure, lack of talent and criticism, he decides to become a ski jumper and sets off to Germany for training. Through his disastrous self-training, a drunken snow groomer Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman) tells him to give up. Eventually, given their shared shunning from the other jumpers as well as Eddie’s insistence, they team up and try to get into the Winter Olympics in Calgary. Does he succeed? Of course! It wouldn’t be a famous story if he didn’t! And it has been well documented by Olympic broadcasts, interviews and even a book written by Eddie himself. But movies with predictable plots are still worthwhile viewing if the execution is above reproach and this is where Eddie the Eagle soars. Yes, the pun is definitely intended.

First off, the actors. Having exceeded my expectations in Kingsman: The Secret Service, Taron Egerton does it again in Eddie the Eagle. Egerton exudes a lovable, yet eccentric presence that could have ventured through cutesy and annoying territory, but he ends being identifiable and even relatable. It helps a lot to have Hugh Jackman as your coach. Basically reprising the scumbag-authority role like in Real Steel, he shares great chemistry with Egerton and the two have many funny moments like using actress/bombshell Bo Derek as a sexual reference of training motivation and they also have compellingly dramatic moments that can really stir the audience. The supporting cast all give fine performances but do not really stand out from their archetype roles, with notable exceptions of Christopher Walken as Peary’s mentor and Edvin Endre as Matti “The Flying Finn” Nykanen, who has a great scene with Egerton in an elevator.

localbinaries_df-01296_r-1_46afe7a6dcae1f8cd0e7e6b7fa6b3f94

The director by Dexter Fletcher is unsurprisingly (or surprisingly, if you have seen his earlier films) light, considering the true story, and like Egerton’s performance, it rarely feels like it panders to the audience that it comes off more nostalgic and inspiring than overly obvious. I really loved the musical score by Matthew Margeson. It is so nostalgic and reminiscent of the 80’s (when the story is set) that I was in heaven whenever I heard it. The use of Van Halen’s Jump in the climax was just icing on the cake.

But in a biographical film such as this, there are plenty of flaws. The dramatized parts (and there are many) are just there to add drama, and they come off as embarrassingly clichéd i.e. the competitors/bullies, the authority figures etc. A LOT of people say that is very similar to the 1993 film, Cool Runnings. It is a very valid point but what is rather funny is that the two events happened concurrently and Eddie the Eagle even references it at one point. The predictability can be a turn-off to some and even the feel-good and wholesome tone can be a bit much, even for me.

maxresdefault

But overall, Eddie the Eagle is a fun time at the movies and it might even inspire you to take up jumping. I jumped from the top of the cinema stairs to the floor so it obviously worked on me.

Quickie Review

PROS

Taron Egerton and Hugh Jackman make a great duo

Surprisingly inspirational, thanks to Dexter Fletcher’s sensitive direction

Fantastic score and soundtrack

CONS

Predictable in every sense of the word

Too much drama for the sake of drama

The wholesome tone can be a bit much

SCORE: 7/10

lhs

This review can be also seen at THE IRIS. Visit the site by pressing the picture above.

Cast: Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman, Christopher Walken, Iris Berben, Mark Benton, Keith Allen, Jo Hartley, Tim McInnerny, Edvin Endre, Marc Benjamin, Jim Broadbent
Director: Dexter Fletcher
Screenwriter: Simon Kelton, Shaun Macaulay; based on the true story of Michael “Eddie” Edwards

Advertisements

Movie Review – Kingsman: The Secret Service

Now that’s a dope-ass cast!

EXPECTATIONS: An energetic family friendly spy film that thrills and stirs similar to Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class.

REVIEW: Matthew Vaughn has always been a director who’s work I really admired. All variable yet well-made fun pieces of work from Layer Cake (Daniel Craig’s calling card for James Bond), Stardust (aka The Princess Bride 2.0), Kick-Ass (which gave us something I never thought we needed, Nicolas Cage imitating Adam West) and of course, X-Men: First Class (which re-energized the franchise after the other X-Men films that shall not be named). But now, he gives us another thrill ride, and that is Kingsman: The Secret Service, based on the graphic novel by Mark Millar (who also created Kick-Ass). Seeing his love of spy films in Layer Cake, it is apparent that Vaughn is happily unhinged, and fortunately has learned from his mistakes, which were awkward handling of tone (Kick-Ass), lack of balance between cartoonish violence and human drama; and pacing (Stardust).

See what I did to that princess?

Gary “Eggsy” Unwin (Taron Egerton) is a young, rebellious teenager whose aimless life could lead him behind bars, due to the heavy circumstances in his life, not to mention the facts that his father died when he was young, his care and responsibility for his younger half-sister and his mother is going out with an abusive drunk. Fortunately, a secret agent Harry Hart (Colin Firth) sees endless potential and recruits him to become a trainee in Kingsman, a secret service organization. Meanwhile, a super-villain, Richmond Valentine (Samuel L. Jackson) unleashes a plan to kill off the vast majority of Earth to solve the problem of climate change. It may not sound much, since I’m not providing spoilers but this sure as hell ain’t a Daniel Craig Bond film, you can count on it.

When I first heard that Matthew Vaughn passed on directing X-Men: Days of Future Past for this, I was very skeptical, assuming that this would be a family friendly film. And seeing the first trailer didn’t sway my expectations. But my expectations were knocked out. This film is as R-rated as it gets. Even more provocative than Kick-Ass. Yet Vaughn has grown more experienced over the years and he finally gets the consistency right. Unlike Kick-Ass, we can revel in the comical violence of Kingsman but we can get swept up by the drama of the stakes without jarring us out of the movie. Also unlike Kick-Ass, Vaughn also gets the balance between parody and homage right, without becoming a film that it is legitimately spoofing.

The cast consisting of newcomers and veterans certainly add to the proceedings. Colin Firth finally gets a role of a secret agent every Pride and Prejudice fan was secretly yearning for and he nails it, showing seniority and charm, while lending a surprising physicality into the stunts and fight scenes. The church scene that he leads is fantastically well-done, with unbelievably gory results all done in a seemingly single take. Whereas Samuel L Jackson was a hoot as Richmond Valentine, with a delightful lisp and cowardice towards violence, adding a twist to his iconic attitude as well as the Bond villain archetype. As for the newcomers, Taron Egerton plays both sides of rambunctious teenager to charismatic secret agent better than I could’ve imagined, and it never feels forced. Sophie Cookson provides a nice compliment to Egerton as Roxy, Sofia Boutella steals the show with her athleticism as Valentine’s bodyguard, Gazelle while supporting veterans Mark Hamill and Michael Caine add (first?) class.

As for the action scenes, they are well-shot and well-conceived (the church scene mentioned above is a highlight), but they sometimes suffer from a digital sheen that is quite distracting, particularly in the final fight between Eggsy and Gazelle. But what gives the action scenes their oomph is the use of music. Much like Kick-Ass, Vaughn uses music to spectacular effect, with a great musical score by Henry Jackman (who also scored Kick-Ass and X-Men: First Class) especially with the use of “Freebird” by Lynrd Skynyrd and “Give it Up” by KC and the Sunshine Band. They give the film a great sense of fun and an amusing off-kilter edge that makes the delicate balance between parody and homage stand out.

All in all, apart from some quibbles, mainly with the CGI and pacing, Kingsman: The Secret Service is sure to be a favourite for some this year. I declare this to be a dope-ass movie. Manners maketh movie.

Quickie Review

PROS

The cast of newcomers and veterans add heart and fun to the film

The action scenes are well-done and thrilling

Director Matthew Vaughn has learned from most of his mistakes

Delicate balance between parody and homage has been achieved

CONS

The pacing can be a little inconsistent (particularly when entering into the third act and the scenes introducing Princess Tilde)

CGI effects are noticeably dodgy

SCORE: 9/10 (Director Matthew Vaughn gives the spy genre a real shot of adrenaline, creating a roller-coaster of an action film that is sure to thrill.)

Cast: Colin Firth, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Strong, Michael Caine, Mark Hamill, Taron Egerton, Sophie Cookson, Jack Davenport, Sofia Boutella, Geoff Bell, Samantha Womack, Bjorn Floberg, Hanna Alstrom
Director: Matthew Vaughn
Screenwriters: Jane Goldman, Matthew Vaughn