‘Eddie the Eagle’ UHD Blu-ray Makes Colors Soar In HDR
Eddie the Eagle is a typical underdog-makes-good movie that like Rudy before it, was produced as a feel good distraction from more turbulent times and events. Here, the film uses an unlikely athlete who makes good to qualify as an English ski jumper in the ’88 Winter Olympics in Calgary.
The story deals with the life and Olympic aspirations of Michael “Eddie” Edwards, an actual British ski jumper, who finished dead last in every event in which he competed, yet managed to get most of the planet cheering him on as he achieved personal and British best distance marks along the way.
In the movie, Edwards was a formerly handicapped boy who dreamed of building his body up to a point where he could compete in the Olympics. The movie uses its dramatic license liberally in presenting this tale, although I wonder if the actual story would have been that much less amusing?
Read more of our review of the Eddie the Eagle on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray after the jump:
Apparently, ski jumping wasn’t a hotly pursued event in England back in the day, leaving the nebbish-like Edwards with virtually no competition and few qualifying restrictions from his own country. Naturally, the movie pits the ordinary, Cockney Edwards against a disapproving British Olympics Committee that comes up with on-the-fly stiff qualifying distance marks to try and lock him out of his dream. The rest of the movie recounts the efforts and accomplishments Edwards made in silencing his many doubters.
The part of Edwards is played fairly convincingly by Taron Egerton, who most recently starred in another Fox HDR-carrying Ultra HD Blu-ray title: “Kingsmen.” But where Egerton played a macho secret agent in the earlier movie, here he shows his range by playing a once-handicapped dweeby dreamer whose persistence carried him to international renown.
Hugh Jackman does his typically convincing job as the movie’s co-star, playing Edwards’ coach Bronson Peary. However, Peary, like many characters and events in the movie, never really existed; Edwards was, in fact, coached by two different men while training for the Calgary Olympics in Lake Placid, N.Y. In the movie, Edwards meets the fictional coach while training in Europe. Peary is presented as an American former ski jumping star that was kicked out of the sport for a drinking problem, and positioned as the great disappointment of his former Olympic coach’s career — another fictional character, played briefly in the film by Christopher Walken. A fictitious book written by Walken’s character serves as the inspiration for both Edwards and Peary in the movie.
4K/HDR Picture Quality
Now out on Ultra HD Blu-ray, the movie is another glowing example from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment of the benefits of using high dynamic range (HDR) with 4K Ultra HD resolution.
Compared to the standard HD Blu-ray Disc that is part of the two-disc package release, colors and brightness highlights seem to literally glow on top of the surrounding background in HDR. Tonal gradations of whites are clearly visible without being clipped, and fine details can be seen in dark black areas of the screen, just as HDR is intended to deliver.
However, spectral and specular highlights, which in some 4K Ultra HD movies like The Revenant, distinctly stand out from other elements in the picture, aren’t as pronounced in images here.
Where the HDR really earns its stripes is in color grading that is much more electric and lifelike than the flatter-looking HD Blu-ray version. Where you really see the difference is in the rich deep blue of the sky against which the film shows up to 13 different ski jumps over the course of the feature.
The Ultra HD Blu-ray package includes a variety of sound track options including: English Dolby Atmos/Dolby TrueHD 7.1, English DTS-HD 7.1 Master Audio, Spanish/French Dolby Digital 5.1
The Dolby TrueHD 7.1 soundtrack offered an excellent mix with crystal clear dialog and engaging surround sound. Ski jump effects were well punctuated with sound offering convincing spacial dimension and directional realism. The bass was punchy and music was clear and bright without overtaking the rest of the sound detail. The musical score was selected to create the feel of the Eighties, which it did well using Georgio Moroder-like synth-pop reminiscent of the big Hollywood hit films of the day, along with classic 70s and 80s radio gems, like Van Halen’s Jump, to underscore the dramatic themes.
For those old enough to remember, the musical score worked very effectively in taking the audience back to the time and feeling of 1988, without turning the movie into an Eighties MTV-like music video collage.
The extras in this package were probably the biggest disappointment. Bonus features are found on the Full HD Blu-ray disc in this two-disc pack. Featurettes are presented in HD and include: Let the Games Begin in three segments totaling 47 minutes:
- All of Nothing: The Hero’s Heart – This presents interviews with producer, director, stars and Michael Eddie Edwards himself. Their interviews are fascinating, discussing both the movie and the actual events, until we realize that neither Branson Peary nor his inspirational/judgmental Olympic coach are even mentioned. That’s because they never really existed in the first place. So much for realism.
- An Unlikely Friendship: Eddie & Peary – Since there was no actual Peary, this discusses the friendship and mutual respect that grew between Egerton and Jackman over the course of the making of the movie.
- Attitude is Altitude: Filming the Ski Jumps – This discusses the terror and beauty of ski jumping and the lengths to which the stunt people and filmmakers went to get the fantastic shots we see in the movie.
Eddie the Eagle set out to be a simple feel-good distraction and that’s exactly what it is. The story is based on true events but even Michael “Eddie” Edwards has reportedly said the end result, while enjoyable, is less than 10 percent accurate to the actual people, places and events.
Sorry, when I watch a movie or read a story based on historical people or events, I feel a little cheated when I learn the story was largely fictionalized.
Yet for sheer entertainment benefit, the story was nice, amusing though not overtly funny, and on some level motivating, so it makes for good family entertainment.
Director Dexter Fletcher uses HDR well on the 4K Ultra HD disc, offering rich, saturated colors that pop with realism, although I’m not convinced that HDR was much of a consideration in the pre-planning and shooting of the movie. The effects also don’t seem to be used in any meaningful way to add to the storytelling. It just makes for prettier pictures.
The final version of Eddie the Eagle is presented in 2160p at 24 fps with a 2.39:1 aspect ratio and HDR-10 high dynamic range. The disc conforms to the UHD Alliance’s Ultra HD Premium certification specifications.
From an audio/video perspective the movie was beautifully shot and captures well the beauty and emotion of this very dangerous winter sporting event. If you are looking for motivational inspiration based on a somewhat true story of an actual personal achievement this is worth a watch. It also provides another good test disc for the HDR capability of your new big-screen 4K UHD TV with HDR support.
We therefore award the 4K Ultra HD edition of Eddie the Eagle 3 out of 5 hearts.
This Ultra HD Blu-ray view was performed on a Samsung UHD-65KS9500 SUHD LED/LCD TV and a Samsung UBD-K8500 Ultra HD Blu-ray player.
By Greg Tarr
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