Blades of Glory
Directed by Josh Gordon and Will Speck
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Running Time: 93 mins
Audio: English 5.1 Dolby Digital, French, Spanish 5.1
Subtitles: English, Spanish
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.