Sunday, March 06, 2016

Eddie the Eagle

Directed by Dexter Fletcher and screenplay by Sean Macaulay and Simon Kelton from a story by Kelton, Eddie the Eagle is the real-life story of British Olympian Eddie Edwards who aspires to make it as an Olympian by being the first British to represent in the ski jump despite many obstacles including his lack of athletic gifts. The film is a simple story that plays into Edwards’ determination despite looking like a geek and teaming up with a former ski jump champion who sees his determination as Edwards is played by Taron Egerton. Also starring Hugh Jackman, Mark Benton, Keith Allen, Jo Hartley, Jim Broadbent, and Christopher Walken. Eddie the Eagle is a delightful yet winning film from Dexter Fletcher.

Set largely in late 1980s Britain, the film is the real life story of Eddie Edwards who is this young man that doesn’t look like an Olympian nor is someone that has the skills to be one yet somehow manages to become a hero for his home country. It’s a film that is typical of the underdog story yet it involves someone who dreamed about being an Olympian since he was a kid yet for all of his failures, bruises, broken bones, and such. Eddie Edwards for some reason just wouldn’t quit no matter how hard the obstacles are or the sense of indifference he endures from the British Olympic committee who sees him as a joke. The film’s script doesn’t just explore Edwards’ sense of determination but also in how he would try to find the sport that would give him the chance to be in the Olympics. Even as he’s given the chance to go to Germany to train without any sufficient funds where former U.S. ski champion Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman) would watch and later train him by showing him the basics.

The script also explores the relationship between Edwards and Peary as the latter is someone that was seen as a gifted athlete who has become a washed-up alcoholic as he realizes that there’s something about Edwards that fascinates him. Even as Peary is a man that is still haunted by his own failures and the coach he had let down as he sees Edwards as a chance of redemption. By the time the film reaches the third act where Edwards goes to Calgary for the 1988 Winter Olympics despite the fact that he had to pay for his own trip and is being treated as a joke by officials and other athletes. He would some how manage to win the heart of the people who are baffled by his sense of heart and determination.

Dexter Fletcher’s direction is quite simple in terms of the compositions and the sense of excitement that looms throughout the film. Though he doesn’t really go for anything new while finding a nice balance of humor, drama, and exuberance. Fletcher does manage to find ways to keep the story engaging while not being afraid to by-the-books in terms of what is expected in the underdog scenario as it includes some unique training montages but also emphasize what makes ski jumping so unique in its simplicity. Shot in both Britain and in locations in Germany for the ski jump scenes including the film’s climax set in Calgary, Fletcher manages to create a world where things were simpler but also changing as it relates to Edwards where the Olympic officials see him as someone that they believe has no chance to represent Britain properly. Yet, Fletcher realizes that it’s not about someone winning a medal but rather someone who can make it to the Olympics whether he wins a medal or not but do it in a way that proves that anyone could do if they have heart, the determination, and some sheer balls. Overall, Fletcher crafts a very exhilarating film about a young man who determines to become an Olympian and prove that it could be done.

Cinematographer George Richmond does excellent work with the cinematography from the more low-key look of scenes set in Britain to the usage of lights for some of the scenes set at night during the mountains and ski training fields. Editor Martin Walsh does nice work with the editing as it is quite conventional with its montages and intense sports moments with the usage of slow-motion and some jump-cuts. Production designer Mike Gunn, with set decorator Naomi Moore and art directors Tim Blake and Astrid Poeschke, does amazing work with the look of Edwards‘ family home and the van that is owned by his father to the training facility in Germany as well as the look of the Olympic villages. Hair/makeup designer Nadia Stacey does terrific work with the look of Edwards from his terrible haircut as well as his imperfect teeth to create the look of someone who doesn‘t look like an Olympian.

Visual effects supervisor Matt Kasmir do brilliant work with some of the visual effects for scenes that is essentially set-dressing to recreate the look of 1988 Calgary for the film‘s climax. Sound editor Danny Sheehan does superb work with the sound in the way a jump sounds as well as the sounds of the crowd for the scenes at the Olympics. The film’s music by Matthew Margeson is wonderful for its mixture of low-key orchestral textures for the dramatic moments along with the usage of 80s-inspired synth-pop music to play into the feel of the 80s. The film’s soundtrack that is supervised by Gary Barlow of Take That provides a lot of music from the 80s from Frankie Goes to Hollywood, Thin Lizzy, Hall & Oates, and Van Halen along with new music from Frankie Goes to Hollywood vocalist Holly Johnson, Marc Almond of Soft Cell, Tony Hadley of Spandau Ballet, Howard Jones, and Orchestral Manoeuvres in the Dark.

The casting by Reg Poerscout-Edgerton is phenomenal as it features from notable small roles from Tom Costello Jr. & Jack Costello as young versions of Edwards, Iris Berben as the German training camp bar mistress Petra, Rune Temte as the Norwegian coach, Mads Sjogard Pettersen and Marc Benjamin as couple of Norwegian ski jumpers, and Edvin Endre as the famed Finnish ski-jumping champion Matti “The Flyin’ Finn” Nykanen. Mark Benton and Tim McInnerny are terrific as the British Olympic officials with the former being someone skeptical of Edwards’ skills while the latter is a more old-school figure who believes Edwards is a total embarrassment. Jim Broadbent is fantastic in a small but fun role as the BBC commentator who becomes one of Edwards’ supporters. Christopher Walken is superb in his brief role as Peary’s old coach in Warren Sharpe whom Edwards would read about as well as learn the ideas of ski jumping where Peary would find the book and try to make amends with his old mentor.

Keith Allen and Jo Hartley are amazing as Edwards’ parents with the former as a stern father who is aghast at his son’s determination believing he’s become reckless while the latter is someone who believes in her son’s work while being the only person that is willing to give him the money to travel and train. Hugh Jackman is brilliant as Bronson Peary as a former ski jump champion who has become a washed-up snow groomer who takes a liking to Edwards as he decides to help him through some unconventional training as well as simplify things that can make Edwards a good ski jumper. Finally, there’s Taron Egerton in a remarkable role as Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards as this gangly, nerdy young man who is the opposite of what an Olympian looks yet has a sense of heart and determination that is so engaging while Egerton displays a physicality that adds a lot more to the character without the need to ham it up as it’s a really a performance deserving of someone to root for.

Eddie the Eagle is a wonderful film from Dexter Fletcher. While it is a very conventional film that does play into the underdog film formula. It is a film that manages to hit the right notes as well as display fantastic performances from Hugh Jackman and Taron Egerton as well as a fun soundtrack. In the end, Eddie the Eagle is a stellar film from Dexter Fletcher.

© thevoid99 2016


Brittani Burnham said...

Great review. I remember when Rupert Grint was attached to star in this for the longest time. I think I would've went out to see it had he still been the star. I'm not sure if I'll ever check it out now, but I'm glad it's still pretty decent.

thevoid99 said...

I think if Rupert Grint was in the role, I don't think it would've worked as I don't see him in other things aside from being Ron Weasley. Taron Egerton however I think was a better choice as I didn't see him as Eggsy in Kingsman as it was the complete opposite of that and knocked it out of the park. It's the kind of film where if you watch it on TV, you'll probably end up enjoying no matter how conventional it is. It's just a fun film.

ruth said...

I was curious to see this as it sounds like a completely different role for Taron who's all cocky swagger in Kingsman. I will definitely rent this one.

thevoid99 said...

@ruth-It is a more commercial yet conventional film but it's really fun as it is funny but also filled with a lot of heart. I was into it and Taron Egerton is for real as he is really impressive.