- Actors: Taron Egerton, Hugh Jackman
- Director: Dexter Fletcher
- Format: AC-3, Color, Dolby, DTS Surround Sound, Dubbed, NTSC, Subtitled, Widescreen
- Language: English (Dolby Surround)
- Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
- Dubbed: French, Spanish
- Region: Region A/1
- Number of discs: 2
- Rated: PG
- Studio: 20th Century Fox
- Release Date: June 14, 2016
- Run Time: 106 minutes
As is often the case with films based on true stories, much was altered for the cinematic story of courageously inexperienced British ski-jumper, Eddie “The Eagle” Edwards. Characters were added, events were changed, timelines were skewed, and in some cases the facts were more outlandish than the fictional screenplay by Sean Macaulay and Simon Kelton. While one can’t help but wonder what a darker and more accurate version of this story may have looked like onscreen, Eddie the Eagle easily wins over audiences with a charming spirit and a pair of magnetic performances. Sometimes a crowd pleasing feel-good movie is more desirable, especially in the cynical times we live in.
For the iconic role of Edwards, Taron Egerton (Kingsman: The Secret Service) transformed himself with a wig, moustache and some added weight, though it is his ability to mimic the mannerisms of the real ski-jumper which makes him almost unrecognizable. Although the real-life Edwards was forced to train primarily on his own, the film provides him with a fictional coach in Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman), adding an inspirational redemption narrative and buddy-comedy dynamic to the screenplay. Peary is a disgraced former American Olympic ski-jumper who is an alcoholic snowplow operator when he discovers Edwards nearly killing himself on the training slopes. Unable to watch the ambitious amateur endanger his own life any further, Peary agrees to impart his knowledge in a series of unorthodox training sessions. Though most ski-jumpers begin the sport during childhood, Edwards and Peary only have about a year to prepare before the 1988 Winter Olympics.
While some of the changes made to Edwards’ story are understandable, others almost seem obligatory in an effort to conform to the typical sports movie clichés. We follow Edwards through childhood as he dreams of being an Olympian despite his father’s cynical skepticism. This continues into his adulthood, with his father (Keith Allen) constantly encouraging him to give up his dreams for a practical career in manual labor. His mother (Jo Hartley) is supportive in opposition, though this conflict is presented more comically lighthearted than is remotely believable, especially when she clears out their saving account or lends her husband’s work van without permission. We also know the obvious direction of this father/son conflict, resolving in the same inspirational manner as every other relationship in the film.
The same could be said of Peary, who has a parallel relationship with his former coach (Christopher Walken). After years of feeling he disappointed his own father figure, Peary is given the opportunity for redemption as a coach. Although Walken is only briefly onscreen, his presence looms over much of the narrative in this completely fabricated relationship. Both Peary and Edwards also face countless other critics along the way, doubters for them to inevitably prove wrong. The entire journey is fairly contrived and predictable, but no less inspirational or enjoyable because of this.
The Blu-ray release comes with a DVD and Digital HD copy to go with the high definition disc. Special features include a three-part featurette about the making of the film and a photo gallery.
Entertainment Value: 8/10
Quality of Filmmaking: 7/10
Historical Significance: 6/10
Special Features: 6/10