This weekend sees the release of director Matthew Vaughn's 'Eddie The Eagle,' and It. Is. Phenomenal. Sweet, funny, riveting and inspirational, it's sure to be a classic.
It's not surprising, either, with Matthew Vaughn at the helm. Since entering the industry as a producer 20 years ago, he's worked on hit after hit. He produced incredible black comedy Lock, Stock And Two Smoking Barrels, as well as the spinoff TV show. He went on to be involved with a slew of British titles centering around the rougher side of life, including Snatch., Mean Machine and Swag. As a writer and producer he's incredibly talented, and as a director, he is absolutely phenomenal.
From smaller, more independent films like Layer Cake to huge blockbusters like X-Men: First Class, Vaughn has yet to make a bad movie. You'll want to watch them all, believe me, but if you can't quite decide where to start, we've put together a rundown of his best work so far.
Layer Cake (2004)
Vaughn made his directorial debut with this witty British crime drama in a similar style to Lock, Stock and Snatch. Layer Cake features an incredible cast (including Daniel Craig, Tom Hardy, Colm Meaney and Michael Gambon), and a wonderfully convoluted plot. We delve into the world of drug dealers and low-level English gangsters as a suave cocaine dealer tries to go straight. It's fast-paced, gripping and distinctly uncomfortable at times — but in the best possible way. Vaughn makes his mark with a perfectly balanced style, but it's his use of music that really makes this film stand out. Stunning.
After the gritty reality of Layer Cake, Vaughn's next film was a world apart. Stardust is pure, color-saturated fantasy, as a young man in a magical land tries to win the most beautiful girl in town by finding her a shooting star. It's all very sweet and romantic, except that the star turns out to be an actual girl — thus turning his cute gesture into a kidnapping. At the same time, a coven of witches wants the star in a bid to keep them young, and a trio of princes need her to settle the matter of who is the heir to the throne. What follows is a visually stunning and very colorful fantasy-adventure. Stardust is a very different film for Vaughn, but it contains all the elements that he loves to use in his later films, especially the focus on an underdog.
This hilarious spoof of superhero movies (and comic book adaptations) combines elements of Vaughn's Brit-crime comfort zone with a brighter color palette and the ultimate underdog at the center. Dave (the man-puppy in question) is a high school student whose love of comics drives him to try to become a superhero himself — something for which he is completely unsuited. Luckily, there are some actual superheroes running around, and an uber-villain who is also a teenage boy playing dress-up. Kick-Ass is hilarious, but impressively violent at the same time. Here, Vaughn really hones his fight scenes, making for some absolutely stunning sequences that will have you holding your breath.
X-Men: First Class (2011)
After Kick-Ass, Vaughn made a huge leap — to the juggernaut of a franchise that is Sony's X-Men. Taking the lead on the first film in a rebooted timeline, Vaughn got to play with his biggest budget yet — $160 million. He put it to great use, too, and at the same time managed to not get too carried away. The film is grounded in the realism that marked his early days in British film, with amazing action sequences and judicious use of CGI. For many, this is the film that brought X-Men back on track, and it wasn't just because of the writing.
Kingsman: The Secret Service (2014)
The surprise hit of 2015 (although it came out on the festival circuit at the end of 2014), Kingsman, another comic book adaptation, combined everything we have seen from Vaughn to make an absolutely incredible movie: The intense colors and underdog story are reminiscent of Stardust; the British twist on class and crime are straight out of Layer Cake; and the action sequences are even better than those in Kick-Ass and X-Men. Once again, Vaughn uses music to devastatingly good effect and blew us away with amazing film concepts like the church scene, which had people talking for months after.
Eddie The Eagle (2016)
Vaughn is back in the producer's chair and once again teaming up with [Kingsman: The Secret Service](tag:713143) star Taron Egerton for this year's inspirational indie flick from his own production company Marv Films.
Eddie the Eagle is based on the true story of Michael "Eddie The Eagle" Edwards, a British skier who spent his whole life dreaming of going to the Olympics. Turned down because of his lack of breeding, rather than his lack of talent, he sets out on a journey to learn how to succeed at the one sporting event that Britain doesn't have a team for: ski jumping. Along the way, he befriends a disgraced, alcoholic former jumper, and wins the hearts of millions.
As well as being a simply incredible story on its own, Eddie the Eagle is acted, filmed and finished absolutely beautifully. The colors, fonts and style capture the time period to a T, without looking outdated or kitsch. Actual footage from the '88 Calgary Olympics is interspersed throughout, anchoring it firmly in reality and history. And the score is one of the best parts in a film that is almost entirely "best parts."
Next On The Slate
After Eddie The Eagle, Vaughn will be both producing and directing I Am Pilgrim, a spy thriller about a man called out of retirement to assist in a new investigation. Based on the novel of the same name by Terry Hayes, the film will follow a murderer who uses a retired intelligence agent's book on forensics to commit untraceable crimes.
With Vaughn boasting a filmography that just keeps getting better, there is little doubt that Eddie The Eagle will get the attention it deserves and that I Am Pilgrim will be yet another feather in his cap. We can't wait to see what Vaughn does next, but in the meantime, put Eddie The Eagle on your to-do list, bring some tissues, sit back, and enjoy.
Eddie The Eagle comes to theaters February 26.