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Eddie The Eagle

The Witch

February 25, 2016

Eddie the Eagle (** ½) PG-13 

The true story of Michael ‘Eddie’ Edwards, the underdog skier who made his mark at the 1988 Calgary Olympics, serves as the basis for the film, Eddie the Eagle. The resulting film is an easy enough to digest concoction of sentiment and humor that’s likely to win over those who have no knowledge of Edwards’ story or simply weren’t around when the events depicted in the film actually transpired. It’s obviously aimed at a family audience but the film doesn’t pander and, though it doesn’t tread any new ground, is interesting enough to keep moviegoers engaged throughout its unspooling.

Eddie is winningly played as an adult in the film by Taron Egerton, who made a splash on movie screens last year with Kingsman: The Secret Service. It’s no surprise that he should turn up here as the Eddie of the film’s title since this is produced by the same team responsible for the aforementioned Kingsman. Eddie the Eagle contains some similar flourishes found in that earlier film, albeit to a lesser degree.

The basic narrative doesn’t really tread any new ground, as previously mentioned, but that’s okay, I suppose.

Taron Egerton & Hugh Jackman in Eddie the Eagle

It’s basically the same ‘inspirational’ type of endeavor that’s been coming down the pike as long as films have existed. The film manages to hit most of the tropes that sports films of this type generally tend to do.

Here we are introduced to Eddie as a child in the film’s early scenes as a youngster with a passion for the Olympics. His hope is to find a sport with which he can successfully make an impression, despite of some physical limitations that don’t give others in Eddie’s orbit much to root for in terms of his ability to succeed.

Eddie attempts to make some inroads toward making his dream a reality in his own hometown but can’t seem to get anything going until he journeys to Germany. This is much to the disapproval of his father who believes the boy should follow him into the plastering business. After all, where would be in a film like this if we didn’t have parents who lacked the ability to encourage their offspring to follow their dreams, no matter how irrational?

Once Eddie gets to Germany he teams up Bronson Peary (Hugh Jackman), a washed up former skier who now makes his living driving a snowplow. Peary eventually warms up to Eddie, agrees to take the boy under his wing and they both decide that an attempt at ski jumping might not be totally out of the question. Christopher Walken also turns up later in an amusing turn as Peary’s former trainer.

The best things about the film can be found in the technical details, from director Dexter Fletcher’s choice of camera angles and down to Matthew Margeson’s cheesy, 80’s synth film score. For these reasons Eddie the Eagle soars higher than it should with such a well worn story serving as its underpinning.

The Witch (**) R

The Witch marks writer-director Robert Eggers first time behind the cameras and it’s obvious that the fledgling filmmaker is hoping to leave his mark with this little cinematic excursion into the horror genre. If he’s looking to build a career then this is a film that will definitely get him noticed. As far as being a solid piece of entertainment that can be recommended, well that’s another story.

The Witch may not elicit comparisons to the Paranormal Activity films—at least the early entries, where the quality was a bit higher—but it should. The film utilizes a structure that put me in mind of those films right off the bat. While The Witch isn’t as gimmicky as the Paranormal films in terms of their tendency to toss out fake scares every so often, it does hold out until the film’s final act to unload the majority of its genuine shocks. That’s a gimmick that I’m frankly growing tired of and it doesn’t help that the payoff in The Witch is just confusing more than anything else. The film may be a bit more elegant and polished than the Paranormal films but that’s about the only department in which it holds the upper hand.

The setting is the year 1630. William (Ralph Ineson) is a farmer in rural New England who, along with his family, finds himself banished from the church.

Anya Taylor-Joy in The Witch

This being a rural New England community in the 1600s, the church is the cornerstone of the community.

William vows to move his family into the wilderness and start a new life, putting the past behind him.

Quicker than one can utter the word boo!, a baby disappears and several of the animals began to exhibit truly strange behavior. The staging of these early scenes is some of the most effective stuff in the film, especially the abduction of the baby, which managed to send a chill or two up my spine. It’s also safe to say that you’ll probably never look at a goat or a rabbit in the same manner either. If the movie does indeed have a takeaway then most of it would be found in the first half hour.

The film then devolves into a mystery as William’s younger children insist that his oldest daughter, Thomasin (Anya Taylor-Joy), is a witch and the culprit behind the strange goings on in the family’s new locale. Things eventually go from bad to worse with occasional scares thrown in somewhat effectively before an unsatisfying denouement.

What makes the film work when it actually does succeed is mainly due to Eggers’ insistence on making the film such a quiet affair. It’s mainly because of this that the shocks work so well. Because of the disquieting nature of the film, the scares are doubly amplified. It’s too bad that the film’s great atmosphere is not enough to save it from its lackluster finale.

Eddie The Eagle opens Friday, February 26, in Hickory and everywhere.

The Witch is playing now in Hickory, and everywhere.

Questions or comments? Write Adam at filmfan1970@hotmail.com.



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