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Oscar Quest 2018: “Darkest Hour”

Darkest Hour!

An incensed Winston Churchill contemplating which pasty coward to break in half over his knee first.

Previously on Midlife Crisis Crossover:

This time of year is my annual Oscar Quest, during which I venture out to see all Academy Award nominees for Best Picture, regardless of whether I think I’ll like them or not, whether their politics and beliefs agree with mine or not, whether they’re good or bad for me, and whether or not my friends and family have ever heard of them. I’ve seen every Best Picture nominee from 1997 to the present. As of February 21st I’ve officially seen all nine of this year’s Best Picture nominees. I’m not sure I’ll be able to cover all of them in full before the Oscars telecast on March 4th, but let’s see how far I can get before I burn out.

Onward to nominee #5, Darkest Hour, the second and more old-fashioned of the two World War II entrants into the race as brought to us by director Joe Wright (Atonement, Hanna). The short version of this entry: my wife Anne, lifelong WWII buff, found this much more engrossing than Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk. Your Mileage May Vary.

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“Dawn of the Planet of the Apes”: In a World Where Apes Are No Better Than Men

Koba!

Toby Kebbell takes over for Claude Akins as the Koba of a new generation. So far I’ve seen no hardcore fans protesting the decision to change Koba from gorilla to ape.

Many of us here on the internet openly lament Hollywood’s fixation on sequels, prequels, remakes, and reboots as their creative crutches of choice. Implicit in our grumbles is the broad assumption that all of those recycling methods are inherently bad by definition. We’re sometimes quick to forget within the space of 140 characters, for the sake of the snarky punchline, that such vehicles don’t have to be all bad. Their success rate is disappointing, but it’s far from 0%.

Last weekend, six of the top ten films on the box office chart were sequels. One was a sequel and a sort-of relaunch; one a sequel to a spinoff; one a sequel to a remake; and two were just plain sequels. And then there was Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, a loose do-over of 1973’s Battle for the Planet of the Apes with the additions of one large MacGuffin and some expensive set pieces, any one of which probably cost five times Battle‘s miserly budget. Also, they smartly ditched the humans’ sci-fi B-movie costumes.

So Dawn is a sequel to a reboot and it’s a remake. Its pedigree is an anti-art hat trick. Somehow it’s also one of the best films of the summer.

Right this way for another trip to the madhouse!

Will “Dawn of the Planet of the Apes” Be the Best Even-Numbered Film in the Series?

Caesar!

Anyone wanna tell them “No”?

Today marked the premiere of the first full-length trailer for Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, the next entry in the apocalyptic series that’s so far been rebooted twice for theaters, this time with a bit more success. The new one comes from director Matt Reeves, who previously tinkered with disaster in Cloverfield; features MOCAP king Andy Serkis once again as Caesar, lord of the apes and probably their best public speaker; and includes human roles for the likes of The Gary Oldman, Fringe‘s Kirk Acevedo, and Jason Clarke, who was Zero Dark Thirty‘s friendly interrogator but seems much more stressed out here in this trailer than he was on the war front.

This way for the trailer and my pet theory about the numbering…

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