Dunkirk (2017): A Bloodless, Yet Realistic Depiction of War

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Now before we begin my review for “Dunkirk,” I want to remind you that this movie is playing in several formats all over the world. If you want more information on that or if you want help on deciding how or where you should see the movie, I’ve got a couple links down below. The first link is to a post I did about a month ago concerning this movie, and if you aren’t satisfied with that, the second link is to a Vox article on the same topic, and personally, even though the first link is my own work, I will admit I think the Vox article does a better job on showcasing all of its information and including all of the necessary details whereas I might leave certain things out or focus on certain ideas more than others, so make your pick. Nevertheless, both of these are informative reads and don’t worry, neither of these contain spoilers for “Dunkirk.” Anyway, on with the review!

MY POST: https://scenebefore.wordpress.com/2017/06/19/why-dunkirk-must-be-seen-on-35mm-film-70mm-film-imax-70mm-film-or-imax-laser/

VOX ARTICLE: https://www.vox.com/culture/2017/7/19/15985474/dunkirk-explainer-format-imax-digital-70mm-35mm-buy-ticket

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“Dunkirk” is directed by Christopher Nolan (The Dark Knight, Interstellar), one of my favorite directors of all time. The movie has characters played by Fionn Whitehead (Him), Aneurin Barnard (War & Peace, Citadel), Kenneth Branagh (Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, Henry V), Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises, Mad Max: Fury Road), Mark Rylance (The BFG, Bridge of Spies), Barry Keoghan (Rebellion, ’71), Jack Lowden (Denial, The Tunnel), Tom Glynn-Carney, and Harry Styles, which if you’re a dad and you have a teenage daughter, there’s a chance to your misfortune that she probably dragged you to a concert he has performed at one point.

This movie is based on a true story which took place during World War II. Basically, the entire movie revolves around a battle which the Allied soldiers of Britain, Belgium, and France are surrounded by the Germans. At this time, the Allies are trying to flee away from the beaches and harbor of Dunkirk, France.

If there’s one thing I was anticipating about this film, perhaps near the top of list of things to anticipate in this film, it was the experience itself. This movie was shot partially with IMAX cameras and the rest was shot with standard 65mm cameras. No matter where this movie was going to be shown, it was probably gonna end up looking beautiful based on footage I witnessed before going to see this film in the theater, but if it was shown on a high quality projector, it might just be like looking at something with a naked eye. Now I saw this movie at a theater which is over an hour away from my house, it’s an IMAX theater and it’s located in Providence, RI, and I went for a number of reasons. To see the film the way Christopher Nolan intended, to see the film on film, and possibly catch details that my friends seeing this movie at a standard theater like AMC, Regal, Showcase, Carmike, Warren, Cinemark, Alamo Drafthouse, or Santikos won’t see if they actually happen to check out this movie at a theater like that. As I’m writing this review, not only do I recommend you see this movie on film, preferably on higher quality film, if you see this in digital, unless it’s IMAX probably, especially laser, you may as well be missing out on a film experience to remember. Because this may be in my top 5 (wild guess) movie experiences, based on picture and sound, I’ve ever encountered. Regardless of what you think of this movie in terms of content or story, this will definitely be something to remember based on senses. Also, if you want a link to where you can find all of the theaters playing the movie in 70mm, including IMAX, here’s a link to where you can find them, and I’ll give credit to these guys because the image displayed above showing a format comparison, that’s something I found in this link.

http://nofilmschool.com/2017/07/christopher-nolan-dunkirk-70mm-release

Before going into the theater, I’ve seen a number of a reviews for this film, and one complaint I’ve often heard is the lack of characterization in this film. Now, THAT IS TRUE, there is a lack of characterization. But you know what? I don’t f*cking care! Because believe it or not, it actually works! Let’s face it, this is a film about war, this is a film about survival. There’s action throughout the ENTIRE movie, not to mention this is based on true events. I can imagine some people talked with others during this scenario a little bit, but I think there aren’t many times when someone makes friends or just has time to chit chat when they’re in the middle of a big, loud battle of a war. Don’t get me wrong, characterization can work in movies, but not every movie needs it. And there definitely have been times where it didn’t work. Just look at the “Star Wars” prequels! I got to say, this is one of those movies I really appreciate, even though I barely know anybody’s name or much of their background aside from which side they’re on.

This paragraph is gonna focus one of my biggest fears going into this film, and then I’m gonna drift off track a bit, then we’ll get back into gear. You may be curious, what is this big fear? Well, ladies and gentlemen, that fear happened to be, Harry Styles. If you don’t know who Harry Styles is, he’s actually never acted in a movie before. He’s done few things prior to “Dunkirk” in terms of acting, but ultimately, he hasn’t really done that much. What does he typically do? Well, if you are aware of the boy band, One Direction, Styles is actually a singer-songwriter for the band. I have NO INTEREST in One Direction, in fact I’m not a teenage girl who has posters of hunks in his room. I’m a teenage boy with posters of superheroes in his room. On the topic of teenage fangirls going into this movie, many of them, based on tweets I read, were looking forward to see Styles on the big screen. In fact, when they were watching this in the theater, apparently they thought to themselves, and this is, in writing, my very own Harry Styles fangirl impression: “OMG! GIVE THAT HUNKY HARRY ALL THE OSCARS! 😍💞” Based on this evidence before going to the theater, I honestly thought this was pure fangirling, although at the same time maybe they were complimenting his performance. I’m not insinuating every Harry Styles fangirl will like something just because Harry Styles is in it, maybe some do, I don’t know, but this did sound like pure fangirling. Now I will admit, I’m a fanboy in many aspects. I’m a fanboy of “Spider-Man,” “Star Wars,” “King of the Nerds,” Christopher Nolan, IMAX, JK Simmons, “Portal,” Howie Mandel, Curtis Armstrong, Robert Carradine, Gal Gadot, and many game shows. Although as a fanboy, believe it or not, I don’t automatically fully appreciate something just because there’s something specific attached to it. I might fully appreciate something if there’s something specific DONE RIGHT attached to it. What do I mean? For “Star Wars,” something I consider done right for example is the most recent film in the franchise, “Rogue One,” and something I consider wrong in the franchise is “The Phantom Menace.” For Gal Gadot, I think she’s sexy, I love her as Wonder Woman, and I will even say she partially saved “Batman v. Superman” from being a total catastrophe, although she was in the movie “Criminal” which came out in 2016, which was rather underwhelming, she was alright in it though.

Sticking with the original topic, how was Styles in this movie? He wasn’t bad at all, as far as his performance went, fangirls, this your warning to keep your cool, it didn’t stand out. I’m not complaining when I say that, but you also have to consider who else was cast in this movie. And I’m not saying they were better, OK, I actually am saying that, but that’s not my point. My point is that you have a lot of characters in this movie, and they were mostly white males with similar hairstyles. You may as well also consider the whole characterization thing I mentioned not long ago, the fact that Harry hasn’t done acting all that much, and performances across the board had many similarities. Besides, this movie revolved around men at war. By the way, out of all the Harry Styles look-a-likes in this movie, I gotta say Fionn Whitehead probably gave the best performance out of all of them. After seeing this movie though, I will say I wouldn’t mind seeing Harry Styles in more movies. His acting is certainly better than his singing. Then again, I’ll mention, I’M TEENAGE BOY, WHAT CAN I SAY? Although I gotta say there is a performance that stood out to me.

The guy on the left, Tom Glynn-Carney played a character in this film. It may be the red sweater talking, I don’t know, but I liked his performance. It felt really authentic, I felt like I was at a doctor’s office going into some medical procedure and the doctor said to me, “Don’t worry sir, you’ll be alright,” although in reality he’s about to shove some crap inside me I can’t even describe, and probably don’t even want to describe. I’m not saying that’s how his character was in the movie, it’s just what his character, performance-wise, reminded me of.

Since I’m bringing up fears I had going into this film on this post, I’ll bring up more. Another fear I had, is the fact that the film was PG-13. This wasn’t really a huge fear of mine, but it was still there. In films containing some sort of war such as “Saving Private Ryan” or “The Patriot,” you might expect some blood, therefore contributing to the R rating. Although then again “Lord of the Rings” has a lot of war in it and yet for what I recall that barely has any blood. In fact the extended edition of “Return of the King” is actually said to have the highest body count ever recorded in a movie. After seeing this movie, the sound, the effects, the atmosphere, and the performances all felt realistic. There wasn’t much blood, I did see some, but it wasn’t all that much and it wasn’t moving. By the way, if you watch this movie, look forward to the dogfights, seeing this in full frame IMAX from first person perspective is as the kids call it now, lit. I’ll even go as far as to say that these moments in first person are actually more fun to watch than the entirety of “Hardcore Henry,” and that movie was basically in first person from beginning to end!

Speaking of the film’s highlights, Hans Zimmer scored this film. If you ask me, it’s hard to choose a favorite movie composer, however, it is easy to say which movie was composed best out of all the ones I’ve seen. That to me, would be “Interstellar,” also directed by Christopher Nolan and composed by Hans Zimmer. Now this is the seventh project these two have worked on together, and yes, I’m also including “Man of Steel” even though Nolan didn’t direct it. He did write and produce it though. I’ve seen a lot of films these two have done and I’m impressed with a lot of their work. “Dunkirk’s” soundtrack, much like others I’ve heard from Zimmer, along with all the sound I heard in this movie, made my ears have orgasms! Is the music exactly hummable? I wouldn’t say so, however if I listen to it a few times, I might have it down. Although it was awesome nevertheless. This score also does something you might hear in the “Interstellar” and “Inception” scores. If you pay close attention when watching the movie or when listening to the soundtrack, you may hear ticking and tocking. It’s almost as if it’s saying that time is not on the side of the hero. Although when it comes to displaying time, “Interstellar” does that best out of these three scores, which is saying something since the “Inception” soundtrack has a song literally called “Time.”

One of my personal favorite one word movie quotes comes from “The Matrix,” and it’s Keanu Reeves’s character of Neo saying “Whoa.” And BOY was I uttering that throughout the movie. Although when I said “whoa,” it was more of a soft exclamation than a declaration. I mentioned I love how this movie was presented in terms of clarity and how it was shot, but I also love the sound. The first bullet that goes off in this movie, literally set me up for nonstop action and motivated me for what’s to come. The sound overall felt real, especially the bombs and planes. This is just a fraction of the incredible immersion I felt from this astoundingly audible and picture perfect film.

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In the end, I enjoyed the crap out of this movie. I don’t watch many war films, but this is one of those films, that was a visual experience. I’ve had many of these films which I came across throughout my lifetime. There’s “Interstellar” (YES, I’M MENTIONING IT AGAIN, I’M SORRY, IT’S THAT GOOD OF A MOVIE), “Mad Max: Fury Road,” “The Matrix,” “Kingsman: The Secret Service,” “Gravity,” “La La Land,” the entire “Lord of the Rings” saga, and “Terminator 2: Judgement Day.” There’s very little dialogue, you don’t really get to know the characters, and while many other movies or TV shows work because you get to know the characters, this movie works because you DON’T get to know the characters. The technical aspects in this movie AUTOMATICALLY make me want to run all the way back to the theater to see this again! This is one of the LOUDEST movies I’ve witnessed in my life! I want to buy the Blu-Ray, although if there’s a 4K edition I’ll probably snatch that. What else can I say except, Christopher Nolan has done it again! This is not my favorite flick from Nolan, but it is certainly some of his best work. I’m gonna give “Dunkirk” a 9/10. I’m giving this a 9 because this is a movie that I would HIGHLY recommend. Definite seal of approval from me! The characters aren’t developed, but I don’t care, because given the situations the characters are facing throughout the movie, it was enough for me to root for them. And I’ll say, this MIGHT, and I say MIGHT jump to a 10 later. It’ll probably depend on the movie’s replay value and if I pick up on any details I may have missed the first time I watched this movie, and part of me is willing to bet I did miss something. Also, PLEASE SEE THIS IN A THEATER IN THE LARGEST FORMAT POSSIBLE OR ON FILM. Don’t pirate this movie, don’t wait for Netflix, this film IS worth your money. Thanks for reading this review, as you can obviously tell, I really appreciated the movie, and right now I might put this in my top 5 best of the year. As far as upcoming reviews go, pretty soon I’m gonna try to see “Atomic Blonde” or “Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets.” Stay tuned for those reviews if I ever get around to them, and I hope I can get those out soon. …Wait a sec, I feel like I’m forgetting something… Oh right, that piece of crap. If you want me to see the horse’s ass I like to call “The Emoji Movie,” leave a comment with the hashtag #GOSCREWYOURSELFEMOJIMOVIE and while it’s not guaranteed I’ll see it, the chances of me seeing it will definitely increase the more users I see commenting. Leave a comment if that’s something that interests you.

Also, if you are interested in Christopher Nolan much like myself, or if you want to know my thoughts on his movies, be sure to check out my reviews for “Interstellar,” “Inception,” and “Insomnia.” The links are down below, check those out, and stay tuned for more reviews! I hope to see this movie again, hopefully in the theater, I know a theater close to my house is playing this in 70mm film and another is playing it in IMAX laser, we’ll see what happens! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!

“INCEPTION” REVIEW: https://scenebefore.wordpress.com/2017/07/19/inception-2010-beyond-your-wildest-dreams/

“INSOMNIA” REVIEW: https://scenebefore.wordpress.com/2017/07/11/insomnia-2002-a-movie-thats-better-the-second-time-watching-it/

“INTERSTELLAR” REVIEW: https://scenebefore.wordpress.com/2017/07/04/interstellar-a-beautiful-intense-breathtaking-brilliant-sci-fi-marvel/

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