Inspired by true events, Eddie the Eagle is a feel-good story about Michael "Eddie" Edwards (Taron Egerton), an unlikely but courageous British ski-jumper who never stopped believing in himself - even as an entire nation was counting him out. With the help of a rebellious and charismatic coach (played by Hugh Jackman), Eddie takes on the establishment and wins the hearts of sports fans around the world by making an improbable and historic showing at the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics. From producers of Kingsman: The Secret Service, Eddie the Eagle stars Taron Egerton as Eddie, the loveable underdog with a never say die attitude.
Inspirational sports biopics are a dime a dozen. Hollywood pumps out at least a handful of these films every year. Some are based on more noteworthy popular athletes, others are based on more obscure underdog characters. With only a few exceptions, these films tend to follow a pretty rote course, feature some blatantly made up plot points and offer few surprises by the end. That doesn't mean they're not entertaining mind you. Dexter Fletcher's 'Eddie The Eagle' plays to this melding of factual and fictitious plot points to a T, but still manages to be a heartwarming and entertaining underdog flick.
All Eddie Edwards (Taron Egerton) ever wanted to do was have the chance to compete in the Olympics. The only problem was the fact that Eddie didn't have a lick of natural athletic talent. From track and field to swimming, Eddie tried it all. And failed miserably, often with humorous results. While his mother Janette (Jo Hartley) and his father Terry (Keith Allen) supported their son's efforts, deep down they wanted him to accept his averageness and take up a trade and focus his life. But little Eddie couldn't be stopped. When he couldn't prove himself on the field, he took to the slopes with an eye for the 1988 Winter Olympic Games to be held in Calgary, Canada.
When Eddie fails to make the cut to represent the U.K. in the games, Eddie gets a bright idea. For over fifty years, the United Kingdom hasn't fielded an athlete in the sport of ski jumping. Without any competition of any kind, all Eddie has to do is make a single competitive jump and he's in the games! When the U.K. Olympic Committee headed by Dustin Target (Tim McInnerny) makes a last-minute change to the rules to keep a "joke" like Eddie out of the games, Eddie has to prove himself all over again. With one last chance to make the games, Eddie turns to former hotshot jumper turned drunk Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman) to coach him. Even if Eddie makes the minimum jump distance requirements to join the team in Calgary, he's going to have to face an even bigger and potentially lethal challenge, the 90-meter jump.
Films like 'Eddie The Eagle' aren't exactly "Google Friendly." While Eddie Edwards was a real man and he did go to the Olympic games in 1988 for ski jumping when the U.K. hadn't fielded an athlete in the sport for decades, the accuracy of the film pretty much ends there. One simple search of Eddie Edwards reveals that about 90% of this film is made up. If you're going into this film expecting accuracy and a true-to-life retelling of historical events, 'Eddie The Eagle' isn't the film you're looking for. That said, if you're after some old-school inspirational sports comedy fun in the lines of 'Cool Runnings,' then you should have a great time with 'Eddie The Eagle.' It should also be noted that the same Jamaican bobsled team of 'Cool Runnings' competed at the same 1988 winter games in Calgary as Eddie Edwards!
While the accuracy of the film is questionable, what isn't questionable is how much fun this movie is. This movie has an infectious heart and spirit. The story of a kid who was told he couldn't do what he wanted to do and struggles to find his way and triumph is relatable to just about anyone who sits down to watch it. It's hard not to love the underdog and Eddie Edwards is most certainly an underdog. Sure the man may seem delusional, but you have to respect anyone who straps on their skis and keeps trying, even when they break bones and on more than one occasion risk breaking their neck. It's the heart of the character you're supposed to fall in love with, not the plot details.
At the center of this little opus is Taron Egerton as Eddie Edwards. Egerton delivers a fantastic performance, and if you were to search any clips of the real Eddie Edwards, it's easy to see that the actor went the extra mile to nail all of his mannerisms. He makes for a lovable nerdy lead character and those thick Coke bottle glasses make him endearing. It doesn't take long for you to accept him, his crazy ideas, and want him to succeed and a lot of that has to do with Egerton's presentation. Oddly enough, it's Hugh Jackman's Bronson Peary that drags a lot of this movie down. Aside from the fictitious nature of the character, Jackman's Peary just isn't a relevant character. He's there for some bit of fun, but it feels like Jackman just being Jackman. The differences between his character here and his turn as Charlie Kenton in 'Real Steel' are negligible. They're virtually the same person. It also doesn't help that Peary is saddled with his own backstory baggage involving a past spat with his own ski jumping coach played by Christopher Walken. This side story is trite and unnecessary as is Walken's involvement in this film. All that side plot does it pull focus away from Eddie, which is a shame because I think had the movie dropped a lot of this dead weight it would have been a leaner and better film.
It may not be the greatest film ever made, not by a long shot, but 'Eddie The Eagle' proves to be a fun bit of escapism. It may be difficult to not investigate the full story and hold this film against its inaccuracies, but if you can do that, you should have a good time. If you can turn off your brain and just enjoy the movie for what it is, 'Eddie The Eagle' proves to be some decent family-friendly entertainment. Sure, you could probably find a better movie to fit that particular bill, but if you find yourself in front of this film I'd wager it won't be long before you start smiling and hoping that Eddie sticks the landing on his next jump.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment brings 'Eddie The Eagle' to 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray as a two-disc combo pack with a flyer for a Digital HD Copy. At the moment, we are unable to verify if the correct size of the content, or if the disc is dual-layered or tripled-layered. The new UHD disc sits comfortably opposite a Region A locked, BD50 disc inside a black, eco-cutout case. At startup, the disc goes straight to the main menu with full-motion clips and music.
Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards soars to new heights much in the same way as the character on which the movie is based. It's a noble accomplishment that graciously sticks the landing on Ultra HD Blu-ray with a respectable HEVC H.265 encode in HDR10, which arrives day-and-date as its Blu-ray counterpart, giving early adopters the opportunity to compare the differences. And like our unexpected sports hero, the effort doesn't go unnoticed with a few noteworthy achievements over the BD. But sadly, the competition is too fierce and the 2160p picture doesn't quite earn the marks needed to win gold, which is rather surprising since the movie was filmed with the Red Epic Dragon camera system with a native 6K resolution in DCI-P3 color space. However, some special effects sequences were done in 2K and the raw digital information was later mastered in a 2K digital intermediate. Given that, I suspect, based on my viewing experience, that this transfer is likely an upconvert from the DI with the same color grading, not a new remaster from the original source.
Although the 2.40:1 image is highly detailed throughout, the transfer is not a significant jump or improvement over the Blu-ray and comes with a few areas that are noticeably softer than others. Fine lines are distinct and resolute for a majority of the runtime, exposing the tiniest flaw and imperfection in the clothing and jackets Eddie wears during his early practice runs down the slope. Later, the fabric and threading of his costume spandex suit are plain visible while Bronson Peary's jeans are distinctly shabby and faded with some small splatters of dirt and oil from working on his Trans Am. The lettering on buildings and the many signs decorating the sporting event are very well-defined and legible, and the leaves of trees are discrete from a distance, swaying and moving in the wind with appreciable realism. Arguably, close-ups of the cast is where viewers will note a significant difference between the two formats because they show incredible lifelike complexions that expose every wrinkle, pore and blemish, from the individual hairs of Egerton's whiskers to the puny, little moles on Jackman's face.
The presentation definitely has its moments worth enjoying, but it also comes with its share of minor issues that keep from it from scoring big. To start, there are several examples of aliasing along the edges of buildings, the stairs leading up to the top of the jump slopes, the front grill of the van and even along the tops of some benches. A few times here and there wouldn't be so bad, but the effect happens often enough to be distracting, coupled with a few small instances of telecine judder that take place when the camera pans the horizon from the top of jump slopes. Despite the freshly-minted transfer enjoying a well-balanced high dynamic range, making for a slightly brighter and tad more dazzling presentation than the Blu-ray, the digital photography comes with a deliberately subdued tone probably meant to match the icy, cold weather conditions but only makes for an oddly dreary, overcast feel. Whites remain brilliant and crisp, giving each cloud in the sky a distinguishable glow while the snow glistens and glitters with realism. However, contrast levels doesn't impress or compare to some of the best UHDs currently available.
Also, it would appear the source has not been color graded to take advantage of the wider color gamut, and the results, for the most part, are sadly humdrum for an inspiring, feel-good comedy. The 4K presentation is surprisingly not very colorful for a plot set in the late 1980s. Granted, colors remain accurate and full-bodied with richly saturated primaries where reds and blues are fairly bright and glowing, but frankly, the overall palette is comparable to its 1080p counterpart. Much of this likely due to the stylized photography and not a fault in the encode, but it doesn't make for a presentation that will convince those sitting on the fence to jump into the new format. Brightness levels, on the other hand, display inky rich blacks with exceptional gradational differences in the darkest sequences and the various shades in the clothing. In the end, there are several positives to be found in Eddie's leap to Ultra HD, but it sticks the landing several meters short of winning gold.
Even if he fails to make a lasting impression in the video department, that doesn't stop Eddie from exciting the crowds and raising some hell with a great Dolby Atmos soundtrack that will have viewers at home joining in the chant. Granted, being a character-driven family comedy, the lossless mix isn't the sort to wow and immerse listeners, but the design has several amusing moments that expand the soundfield with satisfying effectiveness.
There are very little to almost no ambient effects employed in the surrounds, which are mostly reserved for the few action sequences, meaning the ski jumps. When Eddie soars in the sky, the sound of rushing wind loudly blows in the sides and overhead, creating that cool dome-like effect we'd expect from the object-based format. The cheers of the crowd also extend into the background, nicely circling the listening area, and the music occasionally leaks to the other speakers to keep viewers engaged. However, such scenes are far and few in between, bringing much of the focus back to the front soundstage, which is where our maverick hero really shines and proves his doubters wrong.
The film enjoys the amount of space and freedom provided by the audio codec, generating a wide and spacious presence with a great deal of appreciable warmth and fidelity. With lots of minor background activity and atmospherics, imaging exhibits outstanding distinction and separation with fluid panning across all three channels and convincing off-screen effects. The 80s tunes also spread across the entire screen with mild bleeding into the surrounds, but the best moments extend into the front height channels, creating a large wall of sound during the ski jumps and song selections. Compared to the Blu-ray, listeners will surely note an improvement here over its DTS-HD MA counterpart. The low-end remains the same, which is a good thing because it adds palpable weight to the music and the sound of rushing wind during a character's ski jump. There are a couple moments when the track digs into the lower octaves, but it doesn't really have the decibels to rattle walls or disturb neighbors (bass chart). With clean, intelligible dialogue well-prioritized throughout, the lossless mix makes its mark in style.
'Eddie the Eagle' may not be the world's greatest biopic, but it's still incredibly heartwarming and entertaining. If you're able to set aside the fictionalized elements and just enjoy the film for what it is, you and your family should have a good time with this little film. Again, not amazing, but a heck of a lot of fun.
This Ultra HD Blu-ray arrives with a strong 4K video presentation though the heavily stylized photography keeps the video from truly shining. Added to that, the movie arrives with a satisfying and enjoyable Dolby Atmos audio presentation, joined by the same collection of supplements featured in its Blu-ray counterpart. Overall, the package is worth checking for early adopters who are already fans of the movie and simply want to expand their growing UHD library.
Portions of this review also appear in our coverage of Dunkirk on Blu-ray. This post features unique Vital Disc Stats, Video, and Final Thoughts sections.