With the 2016 Olympics right around the corner, this Summer, what better time is it for a sports film about the 1988 Winter Olympics and a feel-good, inspiring underdog story about British Olympic ski-jumper Eddie Edwards, in the biopic of his success story, Eddie the Eagle.

More often than not, sports films tend to be inspiring stories about redemption and never giving up; it's a genre that usually fares well critically and commercially - everyone loves a good underdog story, after all. However, it's a genre that has been overdone so much now that every sports film tends to hit similar beats and they all tend to be fairly formulaic and conventional, all getting a bit too repetitive and tedious as a result. Eddie the Eagle is by no means any different. It's a conventional, boil-in-the-bag underdog story, complete with all the feel-good clich├ęs and tropes you'd expect. However, despite that, it's also a film that is simply delightful and just tons of fun to watch; akin to last Summer's Southpaw, this is a movie that follows the familiar rhythm of its genre but it does it well enough to remain enjoyable and solid.
Inspired by true events, director Dexter Fletcher's biopic follows the true story of British Olympic champion Michael "Eddie" Edwards (Taron Egerton). Ever since he was a little boy, Edwards has only ever dreamed of becoming an athlete in the Olympic Games. Going from sport to sport, from javelin throwing to running to lifting, he struggles to find the right one for him until he decides to take up skiing and begins trying to qualify for the Winter Olympics instead. Becoming quite good in the sport, he doesn't qualify for the downhill team so heads to Germany where he decides to take up ski-jumping. When his path crosses with former ski jumping champion Bronson Pearl (Hugh Jackman), the retired alcoholic admires Edwards' drive and passion and reluctantly agrees to coach him to train him for the 1988 Calgary Winter Olympics.

The story of Eddie Edwards is an iconic one in British Olympic history; he was a very determined and driven kid that wanted to prove people wrong. Watching his story on screen, it's almost fictional, just how dedicated and committed he was - a montage spans over 15 years of his life, showing him grow but, ultimately, always still trying to make his name as a professional athlete. Fletcher's sophomore feature, following up the feel-good, British classic Sunshine on Leith, is an underdog story at its heart - a person going up against all odds to achieve something and win the audience over - but it's also a character study, of Egerton's Edwards, and the reason this film works as well as it does is because of its characters. Fletcher has portrayed very nuanced, genuine people here and he has given them enough depth and personality for the audience to really connect with them. We see ourselves and our struggles reflected within Eddie's and we empathise for him when he fails and root for him for to succeed as a result, because of his relatability and his heart and determination and because of genuine he is. This is a truly delightful, uplifting, crowd-pleasing triumph for the ages.
The acting is great too and only adds to this; everyone in this film gives terrific performances for their roles. Taron Egerton, who stunned in last year's Kingsman and Legend, continues to impress. The actor is truly mesmerising as our titular Eddie "The Eagle" Edwards. He really disappears into the role, adopting Edwards' mannerisms and accent perfectly, to the extent that we quickly forget that this is Egerton and, solely, only see him as the optimistic Eddie. He brings enough charisma and wit to the role and gives a truly superb performance, showing just why he is one of the fastest growing, most talented actors of his generation. He plays our flawed but hugely likable hero to a par, bringing a deep sincerity and vulnerability to the humble character that will leave the audience cheering, whilst also breaking their hearts at the same time. Hugh Jackman gives some great support too as Pearl. The actor plays pretty much the same character he played in Real Steel, the typical Jackman badass - complete with the shades, cigar and alcohol addiction - but the actor is great and gives such an energetic, fun performance.

As I mentioned at the start of this review, Eddie the Eagle is fairly conventional and predictable and there isn't much in the way of ingenuity. However, an argument can be made that it's just staying true to the story and the real events this film is based on. But it does take away from some of the tension and some of the atmosphere, knowing that there aren't too many stakes. Also, this is a rather witty and funny film but the humour can sometimes feel a little stale and some of the jokes fall flat - a sauna scene towards the start of the film is an example, coming off as a little awkward. The cinematography is great too but, at times, towards the start of the film, the production value and quality feels a little cheap and like something that belongs on BBC instead. However, aside from these minor complaints, Eddie the Eagle is a fun, energetic biopic. The acting is great; the score is wonderful; the story is uplifting and heartfelt and extremely feel-good. This is a beautiful, inspired film that will leave you smiling throughout. The energy and heart of this film and of Egerton's Eddie is infectious and contagious and it's a touching, poignant film that is incredibly difficult, if impossible, not to like.

VERDICT:
Eddie The Eagle is a conventional underdog story but one with tons of heart and wit that is beautiful, inspiring and tremendously feel-good.




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About the Author

Awais Irfan
Founder of Oasis Awais, and avid lover of life, Awais Irfan's love of writing and film is unequivocal. Ever since he was a little kid, he has loved the cinematic experience; so much so, he is studying Film Production in Glasgow and hopes to be the next "big thing" in directing.

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