Eddie The Eagle Review: An Uplifting Triumph

Eddie The Eagle

There’s nothing quite like a proper feel good film to give you both the warm and fuzzies as well as a real sense of inspiration. It’s a tricky concept to nail; often running the risk of being too sickly sweet or cheesy beyond repair. Famous Brit actor and director Dexter Fletcher (WILD BILL and SUNSHINE OF LEITH) seems to have perfected the feel good flick genre with his latest feature EDDIE THE EAGLE.

Staring KINGSMAN actor Taron Egerton as notorious British underdog ski-jumper Eddie Edwards, EDDIE THE EAGLE tells his charming story as he triumphantly makes his way from amateur skier to hopeful pro, when he attends and competes in the 1988 Winter Olympics.

Born in Cheltenham in 1963, Eddie always dreamed of being an Olympic medal winner, despite his lack of natural athletic talent, and worked hard to become a good downhill skier. After missing out on representing Great Britain as a down hill skier, the never-say-die enthusiast sets his sights on ski-jumping and stumbles his way to Germany to train.

Eddie meets hip-flask toting, former ski-jumper Bronson Peary, played by Hugh Jackman, and manages to convince him to ditch the life of regrets and hard liquor ato train him up to be successful enough to attend the 1988 Winter Olympics. Throughout the narrative we witness Eddie’s many ups and downs, cuts and bruises and failed attempts to make it as a worthy ski-jumper and it makes for a heartwarming, entertaining watch!

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Written by Sean Macaulay and Simon Kelton, the screenplay is an absolute delight, with a really brilliantly uplifting narrative created from an otherwise simple story. There’s a joyous sense of quintessential British humor that runs throughout the narrative, with brilliant dialogue that leaves you laughing out loud at one moment, then tearing up the very next.

With Fletcher helming the project, the film follows the general codes and conventions that one would expect to find in your traditional sports biopic. However, he makes it a truly down to Earth and very human viewing experience, so that even the slower moments within the narrative feel absolutely detrimental to Eddie’s story and therefore make a real emotional connection with the audience.

The fantastic score includes original music from Matthew Margeson, while featuring songs from the likes of Hall & Oats, Deacon Blue and Van Halen. Combined with the brilliant aesthetic that often mirrors that of an 80’s video game, the film feels entirely nostalgic while effortlessly timeless.

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What really ties all these positive qualities together is the outstanding performance from our main man Taron Egerton. He is absolutely  hilarious as Eddie and completely enigmatic as he magnificently portrays such a quirky character. His facial expressions, body language, deliverance and general performance embodies everything we’ve heard about and seen from Mr. Edwards himself. It really is a joy to watch this young actor completely outdo himself with each new performance.

With Egerton himself just being generally likable and a pleasure to watch, he makes this charming character even more lovable and it’s near impossible not to watch his performance with a huge grin plastered on your face.

Staring alongside Egerton, our favorite Aussie Hugh Jackman plays his part as the gruff and disagreeable Peary with ease and his usual effortless charm. While Peary begins as the stereotypical fallen star that indulges in too much drink and self pity, his grumpy disposition soon transforms into one of pride and joy as he see’s Eddie succeed. While his character is one we may have seen a thousand times, Jackman’s chemistry with Egerton makes for a pleasurable viewing experience and stops the character from being too much of a cliche.

You really don’t have to be a major sports fan to enjoy Fletcher’s EDDIE THE EAGLE.With its great score, flawless script, brilliant direction and outstanding performance; it really is an all round joy to watch. It’s uplifting spirit will attract a varied audience but it’s the wonderful execution from all involved that will keep you planted firmly in your seats, smiling like fools.

 

 

 

Batman v Superman Review: A Flawed But Enjoyable Superhero Flick

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The highly anticipated Zack Snyder flick BATMAN V SUPERMAN: DAWN OF JUSTICE hit theaters this month, taking a whopping estimated $424.1 million worldwide in it’s opening box office weekend. However, despite the impressive takings the film itself has divided critics and fans as it’s received both scathing reviews and floods of praise.

With Britain’s own Henry Cavil reprising his role as MAN OF STEELS’ Superman/Clark Kent and Hollywood hotshot Ben Affleck donning the famous cowl as Batman/Bruce Wayne; BATMAN V SUPERMAN revolves around the tension between these two superhero heavy weights as Batman begins to fear Superman’s real intentions for man kind, as he witnesses the destruction that comes with the red caped hero’s valiance.

While Batman gears himself up for battle, Superman deals with the pressure from his adorning fans and fearful critics all while trying to keep his love,Lois Lane (Amy Adams), safe. While the two hero’s nurse their egos and flex their impressive muscles, villain Lex Luther (Jessie Eisenberg) worms his way into their lives by creating the devastating Doomsday which threatens to destroy Metropolis.

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Let’s get the immediate opinion out of the way so that we can get into the nitty-gritty issues and joys to be found in the film. Do I think BATMAN V SUPERMAN was perfect? Nope. Do I think it deserves all the bashing it’s getting? Nu-uh. It really is that simple for this passive superhero fan. This film is so obviously not Marvel, there is no bright pop of colour or witty comeback round every corner. It’s dark, stormy, brooding and serious. Yes, at times, it feels like over kill but generally I found it to be an enjoyable and interesting aesthetic and tone.

One of the biggest worries when casting news broke out all those months ago were the capability of Affleck as The Dark Knight himself. Coming from a girl who originally said she’d “rather shit in my hands and clap” then see Affleck as Batman; I really liked him in the role. I take my potty mouthed words back, Affleck! I’m sorry, man. Affleck made a fine Batman but an even better Bruce. His salt and pepper hair, ginormous frame and intense personality suites this role perfectly and every time he was on screen I found myself feeling both protected by him but strangely fearful of this older, serious Bruce.

At times the intensity of his character did indeed feel a little overplayed but that felt more to do with the script from Chris Terrio and David S. Goyer. The dialogue in general felt a little stilted and many lines were delivered with any real sense of direction or delivery. Whether this was trepidation from the actors or just badly written dialogue is hard to tell but the narrative is one of the film’s weakest elements and that speaks volumes.

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Jessie Eisenberg as Lex Luther was another casting choice that split fan’s opinion and I reacted to the news with a long, bored groan. Eisenberg played the character with a clever little rich boy arrogance, mixed with a genuinely unhinged edge that was better than I had imagined he would play it. With his quick wit, twisted sense of self entitlement and vast intelligence; Eisenberg played a very passable Lex Luther. Unfortunately there were times where he became a cartoon character of himself and that often felt awkward to watch. Despite this, his performance was enjoyable and there was good chemistry between our villain and our heroes.

Throughout the two and a half hour running time there were some really brilliant visuals that pushed the often lackluster narrative along nicely. Scenes such as the introduction to Justice League characters, such as Ezra Miller‘s The Flash and Jason Momoa‘s Aquaman, were great and orchestrated in a way that didn’t feel like an obvious push for the future Justice League movie. It slotted well within the plot and looked great too.

Other scenes such as Batman’s dream sequences were a little hit and miss. The problem is there was just too many of them and therefore they lost any real power within the narrative. It was interesting to see what Batman imagined the future would be if Superman reigned supreme, the soldiers bowing down to him as he rips off Batman cowl made for a nice little inclusion. However, other scenes like The Flash bursting from the screen to warn Bruce about the future felt absolutely unnecessarily and, unless you’re a fan of the comics, pretty much went straight over the audience’s heads.

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One of the biggest flaws to be found in BATMAN V SUPERMAN was what most of us flocked to the cinema to see. The actual fight between Batman and Superman, while ridiculously cool and great to watch, only really lasted around fifteen minutes. Call me greedy but I just wanted more. The choreography, performance, score and visuals for their fight were all brilliant but it just felt like it was over too quickly. With one quick mention of Martha and her impending death, Batman forgives all immediately and it just feels too easy. I wanted to see more difficultly over his decision but alas he was swayed pretty quickly.

While there are flaws to be found in the film one of my absolute favorite things about BATMAN V SUPERMAN was, without a doubt, Gal Godot‘s Wonder Woman. She was incredible and really aided the narrative with her presence. With Amy Adams’ Lois Lane had more to do than she did in MAN OF STEEL, the film was desperate for more positive female energy and Gal Gadot delivered! That brilliant electric score when she appeared on screen in all her glory really summed up her fantastic presence as Wonder Woman. Her costume was spot on, she wasn’t there as a glorified love interest and she actually plays a real hand in saving Metropolis. She was a real triumph.

I really don’t believe that there is some kind of critic conspiracy behind these negative reviews. The film is a flawed one, it really is that simple. However, despite it’s problems, I found myself sinking into my seat, drunk on pure, passive entertainment and enjoyed what I watched. They’ve got a lot of work to do before we see our characters again and hopefully they’ll learn for their mistakes in BATMAN V SUPERMAN. For now thought, if you liked it then do so without outrage at the negative reviews. If critics don’t matter, as so many are saying, then surely their opinion shouldn’t sting so much. Film is an interpretive art form- enjoy it for what it is!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Netflix Review: Common (2014) A Sobering and Conflicting Drama

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While Netflix boasts some seriously impressive original series’ and big blockbuster features, it’s often the independent flicks one finds while trawling through the forgotten categories that become such standout hidden gems. One such find is the 2014 BBC television film Common from David Blair.

Directed by Blair and written by Jimmy McGovern (The Street, Banished), Common tells the story of seventeen year old Johnjo O’Shea as he’s dragged into a legal battle of justice when accused on murder under England’s joint enterprise doctrine. When Johnjo (Nico Mirallegro) gets a call from his older cousin Tony (Philip Hill-Pearson) asking for a lift to their local pizza place, he jumps at the chance to spend some time with the impressive lad and their friends,even if he’s just their for the ride and borrow his brother’s car to pick up the boys.

Waiting in the car outside, it’s only when the three boys come running back to the car holding a bloodied knife that Johnjo feels the cold grip in panic. He’s just become an unknown getaway driver to an unplanned murder, as one of his cousin’s friends, Kieran (Andrew Ellis) violently stabbed innocent bystander, Tommy Ward, in the pizza diner.

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Johnjo heads home after the murder completely bewildered at what he’s been dragged into and begs Kieran to come forward to the police. Kieran makes it frighteningly clear that they should all keep their mouths shut and if Johnjo grasses him up there will be violent consequences for him and his family. It takes no time at all for the police to show up at Johnjo’s door and with his brother taken away due to his car being seen on CCTV, Johnjo decides to come forward and make a full, honest statement of what happened.

Despite Johnjo’s lack of involvement of the murder, he faces trial as an accessory under the joint enterprise doctrine, a power that ensures all connected to the murder face the same punishment as those who physically carried out the attack. The rest of the narrative follows Johnjo’s conflicted mind in pleading guilty, his mother’s complete turmoil and the devastating effect the attack has had on Tommy’s mother.

The BBC drama is truly compelling as it explores the controversial common purpose doctrine in a negative light. The very core of the film’s aesthetic mirrors the bleak, gritty working-class England it’s set in and certainly paints the picture of unfortunate, pre-judged teens trapped in a world of social prejudice and doubtless guilt to whatever they’re accused of.

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McGovern’s script was inspired by the real life case of sixteen year old Jordan Cunliffe who was sentenced to twelve years under the common purpose law for the murder of Garry Newlove despite not actively taking part in the murder. Knowing that others have gone through the same issues, from both sides of the case, makes watching Common a very emotional and sobering experience and it’s handled by Blair with gentle and sympathetic expertise.

What’s also so brilliant about Common is that it opens up for a completely different view to a piece of legislation that has otherwise been praised by lawyers for its help in ensuring criminals cannot escape judgement by dismissing any physical involvement in violent murderous crimes. Often you feel yourself pulled from one side of the courtroom to the other. Our sympathies are clearly felt for Johnjo as we know he is absolutely innocent but seeing the relived faces of Tommy’s family when he’s convicted comes with a bizarre sense of relief for them also.

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There are some completely brilliant performances from such a strong cast, particularly from Nico Mirallegro, Susan Lynch and Jodhi May. Mirallegro plays Johnjo with a heartbreaking sense of vulnerability that oozes from his entire performance; his subtle body language screaming out extreme confusion and terror. With previous performances in the likes of Hollyoaks and the more recent E4 drama My Mad Fat Diary, Mirallegro looks to be a real one to watch for your British talent.

Jodhi May plays Johnjo’s desperate mother and gives a devastating performance as we witness the hope for her son’s proven innocence dwindle to a heartbreaking nothing. There was never a doubt for her in her Johnjo’s innocence, just a mother’s absolute raw worry for his two impossible options. Six years for pleading guilty or risking life imprisonment if he denies the charge. She absolutely cannot handle the idea that Johnjo could deal with any time in prison and is therefore desperately clinging to the idea that he will be found innocent.

Susan Lynch gives a crushing insight into a mother’s grief as we witness the fallout of Tommy’s murder first hand. A particularly harrowing scene involved Lynch identifying her son’s lifeless body as she lets out an inhuman scream. An all consuming, desolating roar of emotional turmoil that drags you down into the dark fog of her grief as the reality of the situation comes crashing down on her. Lynch does a wonderful job on ensuring we don’t forget the first victim of this heinous crime.

Common does not give us the gift of a Hollywood happy ending but does give us a compelling and interesting insight into the effects of such an interesting aspect of the common purpose doctrine that stays with you long after the film ends. Blair ensures we’re left with some sense of hope as both Johnjo and Tommy’s mother find some kind of peace; something immensely important with these kinds of narratives. With brilliant performances, a gritty sense of social realism and a thought provoking narrative; Common is a Netflix find treat.

The Man From U.N.C.L.E Review: Style Triumphs Substance In Espionage Adventure

 

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Geeks & Cleats

With classics like SNATCH and LOCK STOCK under his belt, and bigger titles such as SHERLOCK HOLMES donning his small but impressive catalogue of work, Brit director Guy Ritchie has done a stellar job of creating a solid background of work while stamping his own unique and stylish mark on the cinema scene. He’s delved into the world of London gangsters and famous detectives but his latest flick, THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E, focus’ on the slick world of 1960’s espionage.

Staring Henry Cavill and Armie Hammer, THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E tells the story of CIA agent Napoleon Solo and KGB operative Illya Kuryakin as they’re forced to team up on a joint missions when a shady criminal organisation works to get their hands on some devastated nuclear weapons. As their personalities and extreme work methods clash, they find themselves in the company of young, fiery mechanic Gaby as she becomes part of their complicated and dangerous mission!

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There’s no denying that Ritchie’s trademark stamp of smart and slick style drenches the film’s aesthetic, creating a visual smorgasbord of luxurious mise-en-scene, sharp editing and delicious costume. Ritchie absolutely nails the 60’s era; ensuring his audience completely inhales the glamorous tone with deep, greedy breaths. From the rolling Italian hills, the exquisitely exclusive race track, swinging party mansion to the beautiful Roman steps; THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E is just generally a great looking film.

Both Cavill and Hammer gives wonderfully comedic performances, slipping into their characters with real ease. As the smooth talking American agent, Cavill oozes charm and his slick accent is impressive throughout. A hint of cockiness makes his character irresistibly likeable, with his shady past and light fingered talents all combining to create an effortlessly cool character. Opposite him, Hammer stiffens up to portray Russian Ice King, Illya. There’ a very sweet, hidden emotional underlying to his performance; which stops the character from being too harsh and the comedic aspects to Hammer’s performance are brilliantly timed and delivered.

Together, their chemistry is hilarious, ever so slightly clichéd, but nonetheless effective and entertaining. Their constant rivalry and witty dialogue helps to push along the flow of the narrative and with the brilliant Alicia Vikander’s character Gaby cleverly slotted into the narrative to break up some of the bubbling testosterone; Ritchie creates a solid and amusing threesome ready for adventure. Vikander does a brilliant job of brining in some feisty female bad-assery, alongside the stunning Elizabeth Debicki who plays our pouty mouthed villain.

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While Ritchie hits all the right marks for style and casting, there’s less to be celebrated in the way of narrative strength. The story is by no means bad, there’s great adventure and fun to be had in separate parts of the story, but as a whole; the narrative gives little impact in the way of substance and often finds itself trailing off to little conclusion.

The final act is by far the film’s strongest, as the narrative finally gets some clarity but before that, it feels blurred and if not a little messy. It’s difficult to remember why exactly the boys are working together in the first place and if it were not for their great chemistry, it would be a bigger problem than it actually turns out to be.

Thankfully then, it’s difficult to really care about the strongest of narratives when one finds themselves so joyfully distracted by the boy’s comedic antics, Vikander’s brilliant performance and the glorious aesthetics that flaunt the screen from start to finish. It’s a little frivolous and won’t be carving out deep recognition in the vast and varied world of the Spy genre but THE MAN FROM U.N.C.L.E is harmless, entertaining and ridiculously good looking fun.

Catch Up

Hello readers! I have been a terrible blogger recently but you have my word that it’s all been because I’ve been very busy with my Film & Entertainment Journalism. If you haven’t had the chance to be following my bits, you can visit my Facebook page to keep up to date. There you’ll find news stories, reviews, feature posts and a couple of editorial posts from various sites.

Also, this week I’ll be headed into central London to work at a BANG Showbiz to get some in-house experience because at the moment I’ve only had experience working from home as a freelance writer. I’m seriously looking forward to it because I’m actively looking for a permanent place somewhere.

In the mean time, I’ve been watching/reading some brilliant stuff that you seriously need to get in to! I’m currently reading The Farm by Rob Smith and I have to say, it’s absolutely thrilling! I’d seriously recommended. I’ll make sure I get a review up here as soon as I’m done.

In the mean time, remember to keep visiting for all my past posts as well as all those on my own site; here.

Thanks, guys!

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