“Darkest Hour” (2017)

MOVIE REVIEW: “Darkest Hour” stars Gary Oldman (The Dark Knight, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy), Kristin Scott Thomas (The English Patient, Four Weddings and a Funeral), Ben Mendelsohn (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story, Animal Kingdom), Lily James (Cinderella [2015], Pride and Prejudice and Zombies), Ronald Pickup (The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time), Stephen Dillane (The Hours, Game of Thrones [TV series]), Nicholas Jones (In the Heart of the Sea, War Machine), and Samuel West (Van Helsing [2004], Notting Hill). It was directed by Joe Wright (Pride & Prejudice, Atonement) and written by Anthony McCarten (The Theory of Everything, Show of Hands). When Neville Chamberlain (Pickup) is forced out of his seat as Prime Minister, the fate of the United Kingdom in World War II rests on his successor: Winston Churchill (Oldman), a peculiar, explosive old man who is not afraid to spit in the presence of Hitler.

Yes, I did finish watching all of the Best Picture nominees before the Oscars aired. Unfortunately, I didn’t find the time to analyze “Darkest Hour” until now. It was an interesting slew of films to be showcased as the cream of the crop. Throughout my viewing of the heap of movies, I grew weary that I wouldn’t find one that deserved the “best picture” title. I gave all of the other nominees B’s (with one F, you know who you are), and while they offered something entertaining and aesthetically immaculate, they couldn’t seem to hit the mark; none of them screamed greatness. While “Darkest Hour” wasn’t the best film I saw that was made in 2017, it definitely should’ve taken home the gold. With its incredible design, unbelievable make-up, and engaging performances, this movie surprised me, exciting me throughout the course of its WWII story. We’ve all heard of it before. It was wartime for Britain and they needed a leader who could actually stand up to Hitler and stop his conquest. Soon enough their chancellor stepped down and another took his place: Winston Churchill, portrayed by the awe-inspiring Gary Oldman. I thought Daniel Day-Lewis was going to win Best Actor, and while that would’ve been a nice departure (and he was brilliant in “Phantom Thread”), Oldman’s talent needed the award. He was phenomenal, disappearing under his make-up to resume the role of a man thought to be delusional in his attempts to vanquish Hitler rather than strike a deal. Oldman’s delivery alone made for an engaging ride, and when paired with the interesting dialogue the story was off to the races. Of course, “Darkest Hour” isn’t anything new. We’ve all seen countless war flicks, whether it be on the frontlines or the politics behind them. What made this feature so compelling was its cast and dialogue, and how both accentuated each other to formulate a satisfying experience. There’s no violence in this, nor are there any abstract or convoluted plot devices to make the viewer question what in fact they are watching (I’m looking at you “Shape of Water”). It’s as straightforward as it gets, and after seeing some experimental pieces that were showcased for Best Picture, I’m glad it was. That’s not to say that what I give this movie relies solely on other features that competed for a lousy award (it’s a great honor, but many of the fantastic films aren’t nominated). This is a solid watch that doesn’t bore the audience by utilizing what story that have and making it all the more interesting. Churchill is a peculiar fellow; he can’t seem to speak clearly and his mood can fluctuate depending on how he wants to approach a situation. To see how this man shapes Britain into the “no BS” country it was supposed to be in fighting off the Nazis was really cool, and I simply enjoyed the experience. The whole cast was wonderful, from main to support. They all had good chemistry and fulfilled the BBC Master Theatre feel that many people love. The cinematography, direction, and musical score were also great. I loved the look of this, as even in a dire situation it carried the plot elegantly. The story itself was good. Like I stated, the dialogue is what gave it a punch, as well as the performances behind it. I’ve seen many of the tropes before, but the writers introduced new twists in order to make things a bit more fresh. Churchill’s climb to the top is a sight to see, and watching it all come to fruition made for a solid tale. I specifically enjoyed his breakdown scenes, the best of which was found in a war room where he stresses the idiocy of making a deal with Hitler. There’s a clear lesson to be learned from this as it’s pretty obnoxious and out in the open. However, it isn’t so overbearing as to it hindering the plot. As a whole, “Darkest Hour” was a surprisingly fun watch that offered a straightforward story with poise. I would’ve liked to have it venture out a little bit more into unpredictable territory, but for what it was I had a great time. FINAL SCORE: 91%= Juicy Popcorn

Here is the trailer:

One response to ““Darkest Hour” (2017)

  1. Pingback: March Movie Rankings | Juicy Reviews·

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