This weekend couldn’t offer three more different movies. We have one inspirational sports movie. Another is a shiny mythological fantasy. The third is an uber-violent look at criminals trying to buy their way out of their shady lifestyles. These reviews will be shorter than normal, as there are so many of them.
Eddie the Eagle
This light-hearted sports drama is inspired by the real story of Michael “Eddie” Edwards. Eddie has always had his challenges in life. Yet, nothing has ever been able to crush his spirit. From a very early age, he has been driven to compete in the Olympic games in any way he can. After years of attempting every sport, he narrowed his love to downhill skiing and eventually ski jumping. Yet, England hadn’t had a ski jumping team in over 60 years and they didn’t plan on bringing one back any time soon. Eddie never gives up his life’s goal and eventually competes in the 1988 Winter Olympic Games in Calgary.
It has been a while since we’ve seen a sports movie this light-hearted. It almost feels casual in its delivery. Yet, that’s exactly what makes it work. The movie depicts a quaint British neighborhood, where kids like Eddie are destined to never leave home. The soundtrack, largely by synthesizer has all the necessary pomp that old-school Olympic movies once had.
Eddie is a sensitive role to play, as Eddie overcomes a childhood handicap, and Taron Egerton (Kingsman: The Secret Service) plays it very well. Throughout the movie, he maintains the boyish hope that is needed to push through every obstacle. Hugh Jackman enters the movie in the second act as a disgraced ski jumper that accepts the call to coach Eddie.
Eddie the Eagle is so charming, so sweet, that it leaves a saccharine-sweet film on your brain. The stakes and tension are removed because you’ve seen this movie play out before. Every likable trope is there, but they are still tropes.
If you need a likable underdog story that can’t help itself but charm you, Eddie the Eagle is a great rental. B
Gods of Egypt
Gods of Egypt follows two main plots. First, there is the power struggle between two Gods that feel they have a right to the throne of Egypt. Second, it tells the story of a mortal thief looking to reclaim his lost love.
I’m going to do my best to take my cynical critic glasses off for this review. It would be so easy to rip Gods of Egypt apart. It has already gained a crazy amount of negative publicity for the whitewash of the cast. Destroying this movie critically is almost too easy.
So, let me tell you who this movie is for.
It was made for me, back when I was 10 years old. It was an innocent time filled with a handful of legendary fantasy movies. Constant rewatches of The Neverending Story, Labyrinth and Willow owned my life. I didn’t care about the quality of movies back then. I only wanted to see a hero’s journey. I wanted to see a fish out of water take on a dangerous world that underestimated him.
Gods of Egypt is that type of movie. The thief (Brenton Thwaites) in the story, needs the help of a disgraced and reluctant god (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau) to save the woman he loves. To do so, they must stop the power-hungry god Set (Gerard Butler).
34 year old me laughed aloud at all the wrong parts. Whether it was due to the bad effects, the wooden dialogue or the Transformer gods. Have I mentioned the bad effects? 10 year old me loved traveling between the underworld and beyond. He loved the cool fight scenes and the new mythology this movie created.
Which means that, if I’m being balanced about this, Gods of Egypt left a smile on my face because of its sheer silliness and the fact that it didn’t take itself too seriously.
Yet, this movie does still need a grade. It hurts to say this, but it’s a D+, but I can see why certain audiences could get a kick out of it. Gods of Egypt is Little Caesars pizza. It isn’t trying to be anything great. It’s $5 and it knows it.
And now for a movie about bad guys.
The term Triple 9 is police code for “Officer Down.” This movie is titled so, because the special ops heist team needs to create a massive diversion for the police in order to carry out a major theft. They count on every available cop being sent to the call for help. The job they are tasked with is one that will finally allow them to leave their lives of crime and be free from the thumb of a very dangerous woman (Kate Winslet) with family ties to the Russian mob.
If that brief synopsis sounds complicated, it’s because the movie is complicated. This ensemble movie does so much work tying each character to each other that you get lost in the shuffle. It spends so much time creating a world of grey characters that it also takes a long time getting to the end of everyone’s story.
The cast for Triple 9 is amazing. To run down the list of actors, it stars Chiwetel Ejiofor, Casey Affleck, Norman Reedus, Teresa Palmer, Aaron Paul, Clifton Collins Jr, Woody Harrelson, Anthony Mackie and Gal Gadot. This is the best amassed cast I’ve seen this year. Add them all to the talents of director John Hillcoat (The Proposition, The Road) and it at least makes for a memorable viewing experience.
I just wish it were a bit more. Casey Affleck, as the new cop in the precinct, is the least grey character in the movie, and he couldn’t be considered the main protagonist. Instead, the events follow Michael (Chiwetel Ejiofor), who has entrenched himself too deeply with all the wrong people. There are at least 7 subplots happening around the characters at any given time. Strangely enough, by the end of the movie, the plots are wrapped up.
Overall, Triple 9 is a gritty movie, that doesn’t leave its mark as one of the unforgettable crime thrillers, but it’s worth watching based on the performances alone. B-