Posted by: ckckred | July 28, 2012

London Opening Ceremony Review

The London Olympics kicked off with a large opening ceremony

Well, I’m back home, and just in time to watch the Olympics, held this year in London. The city has held the games three times, and certainly didn’t hold back its budget for the opening, despite the current economic recession.  But did it match Beijing’s  in 2008, which featured thousands of drummers and dancers?

Depending on your view, it was either better or worse.  Danny Boyle, the director of Slumdog Millionaire, was the creative mind behind the opening, and he certainly didn’t spare any extravaganza.  I think they could have hired someone better (wouldn’t it be awesome to see an opening made by Ridley Scott or Terrance Gilliam), and the initial plan seemed kind of lame to me.  I mean how does a farmland in the middle of a stadium sound interesting?

The ceremony kicked off with a short video done by Boyle pretty much showing off all the sights of England.  The video itself was pretty impressive, edited to make it look like a one shot take, but seem sort of stilted compared the rest of  the opening and unnecessary.

It got even weirder as then at the stadium performers came on the field and depicted British history in the last two centuries.  This lagged at first, but about halfway through picked up.  I liked Kenneth Branagh’s part, and the work behind it must have been strenuous.  Still, I couldn’t help but feel that it seemed a little bit like a movie being filmed live.  That could be considered a compliment, as it was a technical achievement, but it felt so awkward from actual reality.

The rest of the opening were comprised of different segments.  Boyle stated he wanted the world to get a better idea of Britain, so he pretty much promoted big British icons everyone knows (Harry Potter!  Mary Poppins!).  And there was an incredibly weird segment that had two things the British loved: children’s literature and healthcare.  That part ended with a giant baby being made from waving flags (I couldn’t help but agree with Matt Lauer, who said it looked both creepy and cute).

The digital media segment, which came next, felt strange as well and didn’t fit in.  I liked the generational span depicted, which featured songs from the Rolling Stones, the Beatles, and Queen, even though I had no idea why it was there.  The cheesy love story and house party at the end, though, didn’t work at all, especially with that terrible rap song.

However, when some parts worked, they hit directly on target.  I absolutely loved the performance of Chariots of Fire featuring Rowan Atkinson.  I cheered when Paul McCartney played “Hey Jude” in front of the crowd.  The James Bond bit worked, and has increased my anticipation for Skyfall.  And I thought it was great seeing the Olympics respecting Muhammad Ali.  Though it was really just a five second clip of the legendary boxer, I thought it was the best moment of the night.

Overall, I wouldn’t say it was as great as Beijing’s, but it was pretty good and a thousand times better than Vancouver’s back in 2010.  I’ll be sure to recap some of the events, and discuss more about the games in future posts.

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