Director: Joe Wright
Cast: Gary Oldman, Kristin Scott Thomas, Lily James
Release Date: February 27, 2018
A Review By: Kevin Lovell
Film Rating: 10/10
Disc Rating: 7.5/10
Academy Award® nominee Gary Oldman gives a “towering performance” (Richard Lawson, Vanity Fair) in acclaimed director Joe Wright’s soaring drama Darkest Hour. As Hitler’s forces storm across the European landscape and close in on the United Kingdom, Winston Churchill (Oldman) is elected the new Prime Minister. With his party questioning his every move, and King George VI (Ben Mendelsohn) skeptical of his new political leader, it is up to Churchill to lead his nation and protect them from the most dangerous threat ever seen. Also starring Academy Award® nominee Kristin Scott Thomas and Lily James, Darkest Hour is a powerful, inspirational drama.
‘Darkest Hour’ takes viewers back to the era of World War II and covers a key five week period in the life and career of Winston Churchill. As the potential outcome of the war continues to look grimmer by the day and Hitler’s forces prepare to invade the United Kingdom, Winston Churchill is promptly elected as the new prime minister during this darkest of times following his predecessor’s swift removal. With his thoughts and plans continually questioned around every turn, Winston must determine what he believes to truly be the best course of action for his people, even if it means potentially sacrificing everything he worked for in the process if he is unable to sway the opinions of so many powerful individuals already firmly set in their our beliefs on how to proceed.
Directed by talented filmmaker Joe Wright (Atonement, Hanna) from a screenplay written by Anthony McCarten (The Theory of Everything), Wright does a magnificent job at the helm of ‘Darkest Hour’ carefully guiding this moving and gorgeous true tale along its five-week course. The film also owes a huge amount of credit to the powerful and well selected cast that includes Gary Oldman (The Dark Knight), Kristin Scott Thomas (Only God Forgives), Lily James (Baby Driver), Stephen Dillane (TV’s Game of Thrones), Ben Mendelsohn (Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) and more, nearly all delivering impressive performances in each of their respective roles. Yet even so, Oldman constantly steals the show at every turn with his truly amazing portrayal of Churchill, easily delivering one of the finest performances of his already noteworthy career.
‘Darkest Hour’ is nothing short of outstanding. It’s a powerful, gorgeous and carefully constructed look at five crucial weeks in the life and career of Winston Churchill beginning with his election as Prime Minister amidst the chaos of Hitler’s reign. It’s a carefully crafted, powerful and moving film that’s truly gorgeous in its own right, filled with beautifully selected camera shots and an intricate care to the various details of the era. It delivers in every possible way and never falters along its spectacular course, all coming together into one of the very best films of 2017 and a more than worthy Oscar nominee. It’s passionately guided along by talented director Joe Wright whose highly capable guidance is only tremendously boosted by a perfectly selected cast led by Gary Oldman who delivers a mesmerizing portrayal of Winston Churchill that is nothing short of phenomenal, and easily one of the most impressive performances to date from the massively talented actor. I would strongly encourage anyone that appreciates a remarkably crafted historic film based on true events to make a point of giving ‘Darkest Hour’ a chance whenever possible, and any fans of filmmaker Joe Wright and/or star Gary Oldman won’t want to even contemplate missing out on this phenomenal piece of filmmaking that features both at their absolute finest, whether behind or in front of the camera.
Overall, ‘Darkest Hour’ is an absolute marvel, a beautifully crafted piece of filmmaking and easily one of the best films of last year. It’s constantly brimming with beauty and an array of breathtaking camera shots that are all complimented by the careful guidance of director Joe Wright and excelled to perfection by a truly outstanding performance from a nearly unrecognizable Gary Oldman. ‘Darkest Hour’ definitely earns one of my highest possible recommendations, it’s a powerful and moving film that should have no trouble whatsoever proving more than worthy of both your time and the cost of a rental for anyone already the slightest bit interested. Any fans of filmmaker Joe Wright and star Gary Oldman in particular will definitely want to make sure that they check this one out sooner than later.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Darkest Hour’ features a full 1080p High Definition presentation utilizing the film’s original 1.85:1 Aspect Ratio. The video presentation looks fantastic as a whole and delivers a sharp, detailed and clean presentation from start to finish with no notable faults to be found along the way. It holds up perfectly even during the darkly lit and heavily populated sequences, never allowing anything occurring on screen to become negatively affected or rendered indiscernible. Overall, this is a wonderful high definition video presentation from Universal that that looks consistently great and shouldn’t disappoint in the slightest.
The Blu-ray release features a Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 channel compatible) soundtrack. Please note that this review pertains solely to the Dolby TrueHD 7.1 audio presentation. This multichannel soundtrack provides a clean, crisp and smooth audio presentation throughout, albeit notably tamer than the majority of Atmos soundtracks these days. It’s certainly by no fault of the presentation, simply a much calmer and less active movie than is often granted the superior sound treatment. It still consistently takes advantage of all seven available channels in order to accentuate the film’s activity, sending the powerful score, along with crowd chatter, aircraft passing overhead and more throughout the various speakers when appropriate, and never causing any dialogue or other audio elements that may be occurring simultaneously to become distorted or rendered inaudible in the process. Overall, this is a solid Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 compatible) soundtrack that constantly delivers in every way required of it and compliments the overall viewing experience quite nicely.
The Blu-ray release of ‘Darkest Hour’ includes a few decent extras. Included on the release is an ‘Audio Commentary with Director Joe Wright’, in addition to a couple of behind the scenes Featurettes that include interviews/comments with the cast and crew, plus some behind the scenes footage and more. The included Featurettes are: ‘Into Darkest Hour’ (running approximately 8 minutes in length) and ‘Gary Oldman: Becoming Churchill’ (running approximately 4 minutes).
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