updated 07/28/2012 AT 9:00 AM ET
•originally published 07/28/2012 AT 9:35 AM ET
My impression was that movie director Danny Boyle’s opening ceremony for the Olympics would be an epic yet compact interpretative history of Great Britain. I misunderstood.
It began – horribly if appropriately – with Kenneth Branagh reciting Shakespeare with enough hammy gusto to bring down the Old Globe. But as the evening went along the event evolved into a weirdly psychedelic pop-culture fantasy, referencing everything from J.K. Rowling to Queen – I mean the band.
Perhaps this is because British history effectively came to an end with World War II, and there was nothing else for Boyle to say. Well, you might argue, what about Margaret Thatcher? Oh, you must mean that old woman who was played so well by Meryl Streep.
But more likely the show, titled “Isles of Wonder,” really was Boyle’s vision. In his movies he loves to jam together styles and images and effects, and so he did here.
This was Trainspotting minus heroin.