22 November 2012 4:00 PM, PST | The Guardian - Film News | See recent The Guardian - Film News news »

Better on details than when it's trying to uplift us with sport/pop montages, this film of London's Olympic summer crams it all in

The official film of the 2012 London Olympics is a mixed bag, inevitably compromised by the task of having to condense two weeks of extraordinary activity into under two hours. If Leni Riefenstahl's Olympia was so 1936, First is very 2012, reducing specific events to filler within extended montages that seek to describe – usually in slow-motion, to the accompaniment of pseudo-inspirational pop – the next steps in what Cowell-speak dictates we call the "journeys" of its highlighted competitors. Director Caroline Rowland fares best whenever she forsakes vague uplift for detail: the look on swimmer Chad le Clos's face as he realises he has beaten his hero Michael Phelps, the awestruck Laura Trott's unlikely omnium victory. Such moments seem to crystallise whole days of spectacle and achievement, and offer a stirring reminder, »

- Mike McCahill

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