Director: Dexter Fletcher
Cast: Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman, Rune Temte, Lasco Atkins, Tim McInnerny, Jo Hartley, Edvin Endre, Anastasia Harrold, Ania Sowinski, Christopher Walken
Runtime: 1 hr 46 mins
Rating: PG13 (Some Sexual References)
Released By: 20th Century Fox
Opening Day: 31 March 2016
Synopsis: The film details the inspiring exploits of Michael Edwards, better known as “Eddie the Eagle,” the most famous ski jumper in British history The film’s portrayal of Edwards’ never-say-die approach to the sport, celebrates the human spirit and resilience in the face of extraordinary odds and challenges. Taron Egerton, who made his feature film starring debut in Kingsman: The Secret Service, portrays Eddie the Eagle, and Hugh Jackman plays a ski jumping expert who helps Eddie train for the Calgary Olympics.
It’s been a while we felt so good about a movie, and we’re glad to see it in this British American biographical sports dramedy.
Blame it on an unhealthy lifestyle, but this reviewer isn’t exactly the sportiest person you’ll know. When it comes to sports movies, there is only so much interest he can sustain before he begins predicts the plot development and the inspiring ending. So it is rather surprising that he managed to feel pleasantly engaged throughout the film’s 106 minute runtime. And then he realised how likeable the filmmakers have made the characters in the movie to be.
The protagonist of the story is Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards, a British skier who became the first competitor to represent Great Britain in Olympic ski jumping in 1988. The average looking dude (you have to love the geeky glasses) was the British ski jumping record holder, the world number nine in amateur speed skiing and the stunt jumping world record holder. Sounds fancy on paper? Edwards also happened to finish last in the 70m and 90m events, making him somewhat a failure. But the dude was so likeable to the media that he became as an example of an underdog or “heroic failure”, something that the world loves – especially when he managed to get to such a status with mere perseverance and without funding.
The filmmakers must have spotted this trait to cast Welsh actor Taron Egerton, who is best known for radiating his likeability in 2014’s Kingsman: The Secret Service. The 26 year old good looker tries his best to play the part by constantly jutting out his chin and pushing his oversized glasses up his nose. You know this is an attempt to look nerdy, but thanks to Egerton’s likeability, you warm up to his character in no time. In fact, when you see him repeatedly falling (literally and figuratively), there’s a part of you who want to shout “Don’t give up! Go, Eddie, go!”
Such is the successful characterisation of this real life character by director Dexter Fletcher. Adding star power to the film is Hugh Jackman (Chappie, Pan) as his fictional coach and Christopher Walken (Stand Up Guys, Jersey Boys) as Jackman’s mentor. Other fine Englishmen in supporting roles include Tim McInnerny (Johnny English Reborn) and Jim Broadbent (Brooklyn).
For a film about ski jumping, it delivers in the thrill department as well. With principal photography taking place in Oberstdorf and Garmisch Partenkirchen in Germany’s Bavaria and also in Seefeld in Austria’s Tirol, expect to see lots of breathtaking ski jumping sequences set in breathtaking snowscape backdrops. With some point of view shots, you can feel the adrenaline rush (and also the possibilities of very, very dangerous consequences) of what ski jumpers go through.
Above all, this is a crowd pleaser which has heartwarming themes, exciting sports sequences and commendable performances from its well rounded ensemble cast – not bad in this day and age where almost every film is dripping with cynicism and skepticism. You’ll walk out of the cinema smiling.
(The very likeable film may be too much of a crowd pleaser for some, but it’s something we’ve been missing in these cynical times)
Review by John Li