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Eddie the Eagle: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD Review

Eddie the Eagle (2016) movie poster Eddie the Eagle

Theatrical Release: February 26, 2016 / Running Time: 106 Minutes / Rating: PG-13

Director: Dexter Fletcher / Writers: Simon Kelton (story & screenplay), Sean Macaulay (screenplay)

Cast: Taron Egerton (Michael "Eddie" Edwards), Iris Berben (Petra), Tim McInnerny (Dustin Target), Hugh Jackman (Bronson Peary), Keith Allen (Terry Edwards), Mark Benton (Richmond the BOA Official), Jo Hartley (Janette Edwards), Tom Costello (Michael "Eddie" Edwards - 10 years old), Jack Costello (Michael "Eddie" Edwards - 15 years old), Edvin Endre (Matti Nykδnen), Rune Temte (Bjψrn the Norwegian Coach), Jim Broadbent (BBC Commentator), Christopher Walken (Warren Sharp)

Buy Eddie the Eagle from Amazon.com: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD • DVD + Digital HD • 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital HD • Instant Video

The inspirational true sports drama has become a mundane model of consistency, thanks largely to Disney, who churns out one just about every year. They're almost always good, but never great. And the formula is so familiar that you know how they will play out from the start. It's right there in the description -- a true story designed to inspire you.
Of course, the athlete/team will defy the odds and triumph. Throw in some period tunes and fashions, an accomplished 40-something actor to take top billing as the coach, and there's the movie. It will have around a 70% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes and an average user rating in the range of 7.0 on IMDb. Devotees to the featured sport will swear by the movie, probably unfamiliar of the dozens just like it. And maybe clips from it will play on the big screens of stadiums during professional sporting events.

Eddie the Eagle gladly avoids being just another inspirational true sports drama, largely because it opts to be an inspirational true sports comedy. The movie this most resembles is Cool Runnings, which long preceded Disney turning the subgenre into a staple brand. Like Cool, Eddie centers on the 1988 Winter Olympics in Calgary and a competitor most would declare out of his league.

We open in 1973 and the UK's Eddie Edwards (Tom Costello) dreams of being an Olympian. He times himself holding his breath underwater in the bathtub and is sure he's got what it takes. His mother (Jo Hartley) encourages the dream to a degree, but his father (Keith Allen), a plaster worker, reminds him he is not an athlete. Nonetheless, fourteen years later, having fixed his sights on the Winter Games, 22-year-old Eddie (now and henceforth Kingsman's Taron Egerton) is a finalist in trials to represent his country on the downhill ski team. He is the first one cut, though, and told by the snooty committee members that he's not Olympic material.

"Eddie the Eagle" tells the story of Eddie Edwards (Taron Egerton), a young British man who enters the 1988 Winter Olympics as a ski jumper.

Following that disappointment, Eddie decides to start a ski jumping squad, something the UK hasn't had in sixty years. Taking advantage of an outdated rule book, Eddie realizes he'll only need to complete one jump to qualify. Once he does that, those snooty committee members rewrite the rules to render him ineligible and make it difficult to qualify. Difficult, but not impossible.

Eddie, of course, is not one to give up. He persuades alcoholic American ski jump has-been/plow driver Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman, struggling with the accent) to train him. Bronson does train him and, with the recording of a practice jump, Eddie narrowly qualifies for the Olympics, where he attracts publicity as a spirited underdog and attempts something he never has before: a jump from the daunting and perilous 90-meter hill.

Eddie the Eagle is feel-good cinema that earns those good feelings with no manipulation or contrivances. It breaks the subgenre mold by having a sense of humor. With his thick eyeglasses and self-deprecating manner, milk-swilling Eddie is no prototypical Olympic athlete. He's a nerd with a dream and an unwillingness to quit. That endears him to us. Apparently, the movie relies heavily on fiction, which may bother you if you know the story coming in. Ordinarily, I object to extensive creative license being taken, but it's done to good effect here. And end credits photos illustrate that Egerton's huge glasses and pronounced underbite, which you might suspect being exaggerated, are actually very close to the real Edwards during the time in question.

Hugh Jackman plays Bronson Peary, an American alcoholic and former ski jumper who reluctantly agrees to train Eddie.

The third film directed by longtime British actor Dexter Fletcher (Wild Bill, Sunshine on Leith), Eddie fully commits to the setting with a synthy score that sounds straight out of the 1980s. That's an inspired touch, distinguishing this from Disney's ilk and lending both charm and period authenticity to the proceedings.
The casting seems a bit counter-intuitive, with Jackman playing American in a decidedly secondary and entirely invented role. The movie avoids forcing in unnecessary star power, preferring to let actors mostly unrecognizable at least outside the UK provide the appropriate notes. The only exceptions are Christopher Walken, who appears in two brief scenes, some photos, and voiceover as the former coach who considers Bronson his greatest disappointment; and Jim Broadbent, who is perfect as the Olympics' British sportscaster who gives Eddie his titular nickname.

Eddie may not be full of surprises, but it's a good enough time not to notice or mind. The film earns its PG-13 rating in a scene where Bronson likens the ski jump to making love, complete with orgasmic reaction and the use of "Bo Derek!" as an exclamation. That may be the biggest surprise actually and may cause some blushing among those who otherwise fairly assume this is family-friendly fare.

An obvious hard sell in US theaters, Eddie opened in sixth place and grossed just under $16 million in North America, a sum it nearly matched in the UK where Lionsgate distributed. Fox, its distributor in the US and most other territories, brought the film to stores this week in the Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD combo pack reviewed here, a standalone DVD, and a 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray set.

Eddie the Eagle: Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD combo pack cover art -- click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray & DVD Details

2.40:1 Widescreen
Blu-ray: 7.1 DTS-HD MA (English), DTS 5.1 (French), Dolby Digital 5.1 (Descriptive Video Service, Spanish, Portuguese)
DVD: Dolby Digital 5.1 (English, Descriptive Video Service), Dolby Surround 2.0 (Spanish, French)
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French; BD-only: Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Norwegian, Portuguese, Swedish, Chinese, Indonesian, Malaysian, Vietnamese
DVD Closed Captioned; Extras Subtitled
Release Date: June 14, 2016
Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Two single-sided, dual-layered discs (BD-50 & DVD-9)
Blue Eco-Friendly Keepcase in Cardboard Slipcover
Also available as standalone DVD + Digital HD ($29.98 SRP), in 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital HD ($39.99 SRP), and on Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

Eddie the Eagle looks and sounds great on Blu-ray. The 2.40:1 picture is full of vibrant colors and scenic slopes, while the 7.1 DTS-HD master audio does a terrific job of distributing music, dialogue and effects evenly and tastefully. Upping the set's international appeal, Fox loads the Blu-ray with foreign dubs and subtitles, all of which are listed in the table directly above this section.

The real Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards discusses what it's like to see his story told. The third featurette of "Let the Games Begin" covers the filming of the ski jumps.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The bulk of the extras fall under the heading "Let the Games Begin: Soaring with Eddie the Eagle" (46:43), a comprehensive making-of documentary divided into three parts/featurettes.

This thorough piece gives us much insight into the film and much behind-the-scenes footage of its creation, covering everything from development to casting to filming the ski jumps (or the visual effects used to keep Hugh Jackman safe). The real Eddie adds his voice to the filmmakers.

A photo gallery consisting of 68 images, a mix of publicity shots and behind-the-scenes ones, can be navigated by the viewer or set to advance on its own.

Finally, Eddie the Eagle's ineffective US theatrical trailer (2:25) is kindly preserved.

The DVD gets all the same extras as the Blu-ray, which is kind of remarkable in 2016.

The discs open with a Digital HD promos and video trailers for Joy and The Revenant. The Sneak Peek section holds these plus trailers for A Royal Night Out, Brooklyn, and Kingsman: The Secret Service. The DVD adds a trailer for Little Fisherman to the others.

Each disc's menu runs a screen-filling montage of film clips set to Matthew Margeson's oh-so-'80s score. The Blu-ray both supports bookmarks and lets you resume playback of anything.

The two discs, each given a unique full-color label, share an slipcovered eco-friendly keepcase with the insert supplying Digital HD code and directions.

The crowd in Calgary can't get enough of Eddie the Eagle (Taron Egerton), but his coach (Hugh Jackman) isn't sure about his celebratory antics.

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Not "just another true sports movie", the flavorful and heartwarming Eddie the Eagle is quite a bit better than expected. If you prefer Cool Runnings to Miracle (as you should), chances are you'll enjoy this charming throwback.

Fox's Blu-ray combo pack complements a first-rate feature presentation with solid making-of material. Both the movie and the set deserve a look.

Buy Eddie the Eagle from Amazon.com:
Blu-ray + DVD + Digital HD / DVD + Digital HD / 4K Ultra HD + Blu-ray + Digital HD / Instant Video

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Related Reviews:
New to Disc: The Finest Hours • 10 Cloverfield Lane • Midnight Special • Zootopia • Zoolander 2
Cool Runnings • Miracle • McFarland, USA • Rocky • Creed • Goal! The Dream Begins
Hugh Jackman: Real Steel • Pan • Butter • Prisoners • Chappie

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Reviewed June 16, 2016.



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