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HTF REVIEW: Blades of Glory

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#1 of 11 OFFLINE   JustinCleveland



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Posted August 09 2007 - 02:39 PM

Blades of Glory
Directed by Josh Gordon and Will Speck

Studio: Paramount
Year: 2007
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Running Time: 93 mins
Rating: PG-13
Audio: English 5.1 Dolby Digital, French, Spanish 5.1
Subtitles: English, Spanish
MSRP: $29.99

Release Date: August 28, 2007
Review Date: August 9, 2007

“Blades of Glory” is everything you expect. An ice skating version of every movie Will Ferrell has ever made, “Blades of Glory” is served by a solid supporting cast and a few unexpected jokes in an overall tired formula. For the most part, every expectation is satisfied in a stock, mechanical fashion. Homoerotic jokes? Check. Creepy, questionable relationship between evil brother and sister combo? Check. Going for the easy gag by mocking ice skating and its fans? Check. Figure skating has long been a joke in the public culture, and the makers of this movie have created a buffoonish film never attempts to be more than one long giggle at the expense of the people who participate in and enjoy figure skating.

The story was forecast in every piece of promotional material put out for public consumption, and there are no surprises. Chaz Michael Michaels (Ferrell) is the bad boy of competitive figure skating. Violating every expectation, his animal magnetism and pure athletic skill allow him to succeed in a competition usually marked by grace and precision. His nemesis is the golden boy, Jimmy (Jon Heder). Raised and trained for excellence from a young age, Jimmy is everything Chaz is not. The two are fire and ice, acid and base, Ozzie Osborn and Pat Boone. And when they tie at the movie’s Olympic equivalent, they engage in a brawl that ends up getting them both banned from their sport of choice. After four years, a new opportunity arises in the form of a loophole that allows the pair to team up and compete in the pairs division, earning the ire of the reigning champions, the Van Waldenbergs (Amy Poehler and Will Arnett), who see this encroachment as a challenge to their crown.

The first half of the movie drags significantly as the routine setup material is mechanically presented. Even Ferrell’s penchant for improvisation cannot salvage this mundane section. The second half of the film flows much smoother, due in large part to the introduction of the comedy stylings of Will Arnett and the incredibly sweet and funny Jenna Fischer, who plays the Van Waldenbergs’ younger sister and Jimmy’s love interest. It is unfortunate that the film’s finale has little if anything to do with actual figure skating, instead becoming a silly, fantastical spectacle that has nothing to do with reality. The film was never intending to be set in reality, but I don’t know that I ever cracked a smile during the final skating sequence because it wasn’t engaging, entertaining, or even emotional. One of the great things about sports comedies like “Major League” and “The Longest Yard” is that they take the sport seriously and at least pretend to do justice to the source material.

While there were certainly moments that I enjoyed, and even made me laugh aloud, the biggest problem with “Blades of Glory” is that felt routine. Most of the setups had been done already, in recent movies like “Dodgeball” and Ferrell’s own “Talladega Nights.” It is hard to make a sports movie feel novel, but the makers of “Blades of Glory” didn’t even seem to try, amplifying every cliché, substituting slapstick for plot development. Witty dialogue will serve to make a good movie better, but this movie is bogged down in non sequiturs and self-awareness. The laughs are few and far between, most cringe-inducing and few worth revisiting. “Blades of Glory” falls short of comic gold.

Unsurprisingly the video quality on this set is stellar. Presented in Anamorphic widescreen in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, I have no complaints about this set. There are no black levels to judge against, but the vibrant colors pop off the screen and there is only a minor, marginal level of edge enhancement, namely visible on titles.

Unlike the video, I can’t say much in praise of the audio track on this set. While it is passable, with clear dialogue and no noticeable hiss, the truth is that it was overall unimpressive. There was only minor use of the surround tracks and, even with music cues, the subwoofer stayed largely silent. It isn’t bad, but nothing to cheer about. I reviewed the 5.1 Dolby Digital English track, but there are options in Spanish and French available too, if you are so inclined. Subtitles are in English and Spanish.

Packed with extras, fans of this movie and its cast will not be disappointed. The first few documentaries, running anywhere from ten to twenty minutes each, feature the cast talking about how they became involved in the project, the costuming, and working as a husband and wife team (dealing with Poehler and Arnett, who are married in real life).

20 Questions with Mark Hamill… er… Scott Hamilton is a chance for a real figure skater to shine. He does well.

There is a gag real, set of deleted scenes, and alternate takes that showcases the casts’ collective penchant for improvisation with mixed results. For those of you looking for lines of dialogue or bits that were showcased in the promotional materials, you will find many of them here.

The last substantive extra is a roundtable discussion from MovieFone that was promoting the film’s pending theatrical release. More improvisation and buffoonery from Ferrell, Heder, and Arnett.

Lumping the promotional materials together, there are photo galleries, a music video for the song “Blades of Glory,” and a set of theatrical trailers, including one for this movie.

I can’t say I was disappointed with “Blades of Glory” because I wasn’t expecting much. I turned off “Talladega Nights” half way through my first viewing, and find Will Ferrell largely tedious. If you are a fan I am sure you’ll enjoy the film, but I simply couldn’t stomach this amalgamation of clichés and goofy antics.

#2 of 11 OFFLINE   Ron Reda

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Posted August 18 2007 - 01:56 PM

Good review, Justin! I too have been finding it harder and harder to sit through Will Ferrell's movies. I'll just go ahead and rent this one and hope I can make it through with a few chuckles. I hear that he's doing a 70's basketball movie next. Ugh...another entry in this tired formula.
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#3 of 11 OFFLINE   Ravi K

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Posted August 20 2007 - 07:24 PM

I liked Blades of Glory. I liked it better than Talledega Nights, which had funny moments here and there but was a bloated film. But there is an obvious formula to these films. Cocky (insert profession here) becomes washed up (or is already washed up) and must come back to fame. He needs to stop with the sports stuff already and make some films about something else.

#4 of 11 OFFLINE   JustinCleveland



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Posted August 21 2007 - 03:03 AM

Ravi, You're right, it was better than Talladega Nights, which was, to me, painful.

#5 of 11 OFFLINE   Shad R

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Posted August 27 2007 - 10:52 PM

I'm glad it looks great on DVD. I will be buying this. I think Will Ferell is a hoot. The audience during my screening would disagree with the previous comments. Everyone in the theater just had a good time and laughed throughout. I can see how his style of humor is not for everyone, though.

#6 of 11 OFFLINE   Chris Cheese

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Posted September 01 2007 - 02:12 PM

Talladega Nights disappointed me too, and I was only marginally hopefull that this would be any good, especially since I really didn't like Napoleon Dynamite, but I was very pleasantly surprised, and after the first half hour or so of setup, found myself laughing a lot. Poehler and Arnett certainly add a lot of laughs to an already funny cast.

#7 of 11 OFFLINE   Bill Thomann

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Posted September 01 2007 - 05:39 PM

Bought it blind along with Old School from bestbuyonline (2 for $20 deal) and am very happy except they didn't send the BB exclusive bonus disc which I now have to hope that their promotions dept. will rectify. I've got to wait 5-10 days for their response. Great dvd though.

#8 of 11 OFFLINE   Joe Bernardi

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Posted September 02 2007 - 02:59 AM

My only interest in this movie is Jenna Fischer. Does she have enough screen time to make me ignore the fact that this is a Will Ferell movie?

#9 of 11 OFFLINE   Colin Jacobson

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Posted September 02 2007 - 02:55 PM

No. She's a babe, but she's not onscreen a ton...
Colin Jacobson

#10 of 11 OFFLINE   RichP


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Posted September 09 2007 - 02:05 AM

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#11 of 11 OFFLINE   Chris Cheese

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Posted September 09 2007 - 03:56 AM

I think any Jenna Fischer fan would be doing themselves a huge disservice to not see this movie. Probably worth a rental just to fast forward to her scenes (or just one in particular), if you know what I mean.

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