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I have to agree with some of the reviewers here who've stated that many of these glowing reviews are paid for, because what they're describing isn't even the same film.
Before the artsy-fartsy daggers come out--no, I don't need tons of backstory to feel invested in the characters. It's war, it's brutal, and I can surmise what it must be like for these brave souls. But when I come out the film and can't remember a single character's name (or worse, even care about them), that's just crap storytelling. Art should inspire a connection. This left me devoid of anything to be honest.
Scale...I may as well have been watching a tiny pocket of some soldiers, fighting some war, taking place somewhere. Part of what's so astonishing and inspiring about Dunkirk was its sheer scale. This insipid attempt to condense it to bite-sized POVs is insulting. You would expect at the end when the character (I literally can't remember his name) began reading Churchill's announcement to be roused by emotion. But since the film didn't generate any, and the delivery was so bland, it didn't even click with me what he was reading until I heard, "We shall fight on the beaches."
Lastly, a film doesn't have to be linear so I don't mind differing time lines. This however, was like some art-house, "look at how cool I play with time" film school project. I'm sorry...GAWD I'm sorry... but this was bad. I think about 100+ reviews explained why it doesn't work.
Storytelling has been used by our species for centuries to share POVs, be morality tales, entertain screaming kids who won't sleep...you get the picture. NONE of that happens if your audience doesn't connect with the story. This was an experiment and indulgence. A $150M indulgence and waste of viewers' time and money. Shame on you.
The fantastically directed film is told from 3 perspectives non chronologically. It superbly tackles the narrative and the non linear story doesn't at all pull you away from the intensity of the events happening on screen that don't stop from 00:00 to the last scene. Hans Zimmer most likely gives one of the most fitting scores for a war film ever. Sometimes there is only one note playing followed by heartbeat sounds and a ticking clock while other times a massive orchestra is interpreting what is going on on screen. The movie brilliantly projects the feeling of each and every soldier on the beach to the audience. Confusion, turmoil and fear. The cinematography was breathtaking and I felt anxious throughout most of the run time. There is no lead in this film and I can't really say anyone stuck out as giving a brilliant performance because it wasn't needed and I'll explain why.
The biggest criticisms of Dunkirk that I've heard of so far are that the characters are lacking in depth and that we aren't given anything to be invested in them. I feel like Nolan was trying (successfully) to make the audience care for each and every one of the men on the beach. He needed to have some form of "main characters" to be in the story so that we can see the events unfold from the direct perspective of all of the soldiers. Usually in war films (I'll use saving private Ryan as an example) the plot revolves around certain soldiers (like Cpt. Miller and Ryan) being in a war and doing things in the war but its still about THEM not THE WAR as much. In my opinion Dunkirk is a telling the STORY OF DUNKIRK. Not of Harry Style's character or Tom Hardy's character but of Dunkirk. What any of the "main characters" felt, every other soldier felt. Nolan resorted more to film-making techniques to tell the story rather than dialogue and that is why some people might have had a problem with the lack of character depth but realistically this type of terrible event wouldn't be a place for someone to "develop" as a character but rather a event where MEN WANTED ONLY SURVIVAL, and Nolan showed that perfectly. As for what the top review of Dunkirk on IMDb says about 'lack of emotion' in the film, I believe this to be a completely incorrect statement. Maybe he was referring to the lack of 'brotherhood amongst men' or the feeling of moral or something epic like that. Again the longing for the 'Saving Private Ryan' format of war films. What the reviewer fails to see is that realistically there was NO emotion on that beach besides fear and confusion. And I can safely say that Nolan and Zimmer and the DP all successfully gave us those feelings.
Within the first 10 minutes we find ourselves on the beach, together with lines and lines of soldiers facing the water, waiting for the boats to collect them. Never mind the fact, that the boats had not even left England yet!
Needless to say, the soldiers were completely unprotected in the open, and made for great target practice for the German planes above them.
I found the lack of character building to be an enormous let down. Whilst there were three mini plots, the soldiers being evacuated, the trio of Spitfires, and the one small boat with the man and his son, there was little or no interaction between the actors in these mini plots.
I call them actors as we were never able to get to know them by name as such, and hence there were no characters in this movie per se. Kenneth Branagh spent the entire moving walking up and down the wharf trying to get the soldiers into whatever boats appeared.
The supposed armada that was dispatched from the other side of the channel, never looked more than a bunch of mates out for an afternoon cruise.
There were many scenes with little or no dialogue, which depicted what it was really like for mainly those on the beach, or in an unused trawler a group of them came across.
Whilst these may have been realistic, we had no idea who the characters involved were, as we had no opportunity to engage with them throughout the film.
There were many times when we switched from a night time scene to daytime one, and then back to night time, when supposedly all the action was taking place at the the same time.
In my humble opinion, Dunkirk could have, and should have been an epic movie, but I'm afraid to say that I found it boring, tedious, and without character.
I am well aware that I am in the minority with this opinion, but it really could have been so much better.
The cinematography here at least, is masterful. Director Christopher Nolan has, without a doubt, reached the pinnacle of on-screen spectacle here. The feats of practical effects in this film are breathtaking. The casting of nearly 6,000 extras, authentic WWII vehicles, and shooting on location in Dunkirk, France contribute to a great sense of scale here. There is ongoing trend of action films in recent years of relying on CGI, and thankfully Nolan bucks that trend.
Similar to War for the Planet of the Apes, much of the film plays out without much dialogue, leaning on just the score and sound design in most scenes. It almost goes without saying that Hans Zimmer delivers with another incredible score. The sound design is also extremely well crafted, which, paired with Nolan's great work behind the camera, truly transports you to the Battle of Dunkirk. The wailing of planes passing above, the drone of gunfire, and the roar of explosions all contribute to the complete immersion into the world these characters are trapped in. This results in some of the most immersive wartime action scenes since Saving Private Ryan.
This film has and will continue to be compared to World War II classic Saving Private Ryan. Both films are beautifully filmed WWII period pieces with casts that deliver great performances. The similarities end there. Whereas Saving Private Ryan was engrossing as a narrative due to it's characters with depth and arcs, Dunkirk instead leans on it's subject matter and spectacle.
And while the subject matter of Dunkirk is fascinating, as a film it lacks emotional firepower due to the absence of a strongly written protagonist. This is strangely uncharacteristic of a director of Nolan's caliber, especially when you recall the complex character work in his most acclaimed films: The Dark Knight, Memento, and The Prestige. Instead of focusing on a single character or single group of characters, the focus is spread across three protagonists in completely different situations. Showing the Dunkirk Evacuation through the three different perspectives of those on the beach, the sea, and the air is only an interesting proposition on paper. The narrative, due to this writing choice, is spread far too thin, with few characters getting enough screen time to develop even the mildest emotional connection.
While the characters in this film aren't written to even remotely be compelling, the great work from this cast is not to be overlooked. Harry Styles, known for being a member of English boy band One Direction, is surprisingly excellent here in his acting debut. Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh, and Fionn Whitehead also all give standout performances despite the limited screen time they are given.
I should love this film. Historical drama? WWII setting? My favorite director Christopher Nolan? Amazing cinematography? Superb performances from an ensemble cast? All of these elements made me sure I would love this going in. But, Dunkirk's lack of emotional connection severely detracts from the awe-inspiring scope and technical prowess displayed.
If I reviewed based on visuals alone, this is a slam-dunk, walk-off home run of a 5-star film. While a focus on grandeur and situation over character depth and emotion may work for some (it obviously worked for 98% of critics on Rotten Tomatoes), it did not work for this critic.
This is without a doubt a cinematic achievement, but without an emotional core, it's impossible for this film not to feel cold and empty. Despite being a technical masterpiece, this is Christopher Nolan's most disappointing film yet.
But anyways, this could have been forgivable if the film was more about the event itself, but it fails at that too. After watching the film, you'd be given to believe that the Battle of Dunkirk was fought by three Spitfires (100 were lost over the beeches alone), 1 German heinkel, a couple of stukas, 2 destroyers or a dozen or so boats... Oh yes and maybe a few hundred men standing quietly on a beach, doing nothing except desperately trying to look morose and dejected in a faintly passive-aggressive way. It's ridiculous. We are talking about total and absolute chaos happening there, hundreds of thousands of rifles alone discarded on the beach, not to mention guns, artillery, trucks... Burning and sinking ships of all sizes all across the horizon, parts of beaches inaccessible from rotting corpses washing up with tides. This was actually way bigger than D-Day landings in terms of men and equipment stuffed in a very small patch of land. Half a million desperate men stuffed in a small town, bombarded incessantly and under constant attack from bombers. Where did all those people defecate, what did they eat ffs? I wanted to know that, really. That at least would have given some much needed humanity to the so-called-characters Nolan keeps yanking around like so much puppets. So many missed opportunities there...
If Nolan wanted to do a tight little film about isolation and desperation of being on the loosing side of the war, he had plenty of other places and battles to choose from. Just ask around. Or if he simply had to insist on Dunkirk, then we should have seen this total chaos all around our protagonists, in the background at least - that would have served as a really powerful, so desperately needed counterpoint to the individual suffering and heroism.
And this brings me to the final point. The movie is one tone only. A monotone repetition of sights and emotions we've seen and experienced before. No one cracks a joke. No one really breaks down. No one has an embarrassing moment. There are no ups and downs, it's just some morose faceless robots performing obvious actions leading towards a bleedingly obvious goal. One single emotional and narrative tone from the beginning to the end. The entire emotional and narrative content of the movie would have fit snugly into a 20 minute short, and that is pretty much how long it takes before you start yawning. The best thing that can be said about the movie is that individual scenes are well directed and worth experiencing. But that is the real problem here - the film is constructed as a series of impressive "experiences" rather than cohesive piece of drama (And this particular historical event is almost uniquely stuffed with dramatic opportunities. It's almost as if golden-age Hollywood writers wrote the script for the actual event.) In other words, it's a Dunkirk theme park rather than a movie. You take rides. And that's it. And even those become repetitive after a while.
After reading such amazing universal critical praise, my less than stellar experience of watching Dunkirk obligated me to write my first ever review on IMDb. I am a big fan of Christopher Nolan, in many ways I think he has truly changed cinema and how we experience film. I would go as far as to call him a visionary artist. This is why Dunkirk truly baffled me.
Let's think about the technical facts of the Dunkirk evacuation, it is said over and over in the film that there are 300,000 men on the beach. We see maybe 1,000. A mass evacuation this scale took hundreds and hundreds of vessels. We see upwards of 30-40. And the Luftwaffe was definitely assailing the beach, yet in the film we see a paltry 8 planes. There is something missing here, it's called "scale". This film has a complete dearth of it. And that is a shame and blaspheme to the experience of the true Dunkirk evacuation.
Beyond the obvious factual incongruities, there are glaring narrative holes. We have no connection to these characters, they seem cold and distant from us. There is no character development whatsoever in the film. I understand that Nolan was trying to show the entire character of the Dunkirk evacuees, but again we only saw a minuscule few hundred of what was supposed to be 300,000 so this argument is moot to me. We don't even get to see one Nazis either, so the "grand villain" that was forcing the evacuation was never even on the screen!!!!
The score and the sound design have been mentioned by many reviewers, and again I was so underwhelmed. There have been so many better films for both scores and sound design, too many to list actually. Yes, there is some stellar cinematographer, but we expect that from Mr. Nolan.
Finally, I've heard and read "One of the best war films ever" so many times now. Give me a break. There are many many better war films- Ran, The Bridge on the River Kwai, Apocalypse Now, Full Metal Jacket, The Thin Red Line, and Saving Private Ryan to name just a few. I'd suggest you rent or buy one of these instead of watching Dunkirk. I wouldn't waste my time viewing this film again. I hope Nolan's next film is far better.
First I do not understand where the $150 million budget was spent. The actual story of the Dunkirk evacuation involved - literally - hundreds of thousands of men, and hundreds of boats and planes. In this film, we see....a few hundred men? 30 boats? Something like six planes? Where is the grand scale that a story like Dunkirk deserves, or really, demands? There was no grand scale. That is a heinous omission and oversight and ultimately fails to tell the story of Dunkirk as it should be told. And if you don't want to use CGI to achieve that scale, that's fine, but then either expand the real numbers of extras and props so it replicates what Dunkirk was actually like, or, don't do the film. A few soldiers standing around on the beach looks incredibly silly when the characters say on more than one occasion that there are over 300,000 men there. Where are they? We never saw them. Ludicrous.
Similarly, we see a few boats here and there, and a few planes. This does not come close to approximating the flotilla of ships, boats and other watercraft used - in reality over 800. It's hard to appreciate what a tremendous achievement the Dunkirk evacuation was - ultimately, the aim of this film I suspect - when we never actually see that achievement occur. We see a few boats and few planes. Literally a drop in the bucket of what Dunkirk was. Yet at the conclusion, as the men are disembarking, back safe in England, we are supposed to be swept up in a swelling feeling of appreciation for something that we never actually witness. Very bizarre.
The soundtrack, if you can call it that, was an escalating collection of random and intrusive blaring instruments that can be best described as 'noise.' I have no idea what the goal was there. Perhaps it was an attempt to convey what one might feel, the intense experience one might have, if he or she was in a war-time situation like this. Perhaps. A professional critic called it 'bombastic' and that's probably being generous. I am not lying when I tell you I had to take an Advil when I got back from the theater, thanks to the crazily escalating noise that overwhelms the latter part of the film. Yikes.
As for the climax, the scene of a Spitfire seemingly free of the laws of physics and gravity is bereft of all logic, and was such an eye-rolling piece of nonsense, no amount of criticism on my part can do it justice. Let's just say planes cannot keep flying indefinitely, much less maneuver and successfully engage other aircraft, when that plane has run out of fuel. The film deserves to be panned for this ridiculous scene alone.
This is not a great war film, it's not even a good war film. It is not typical or traditional story-telling, I will give it that. There are stretches of this film that lack dialogue and there is zero character development. While different, that's hardly unique (it's been done before). Perhaps some critics haven't understood that 'different' does not automatically translate to 'good' or 'great' - sometimes, it does not.
Put down the Kool-Aid. As my brother said to me when we walked out of the theater last night, "Assuming I would like this, I thought I would go see this again over the weekend. Not only am I not doing that now, I won't even bother watching this once it's on cable or Netflix." True that, bro. 5/10.
The bad: The music\noise\soundtrack...whatever you want to call it was terrible. Just random esculations of horned instruments that build up and up and up to nothing. It was way too distracting and completely failed to build the suspense. I found myself looking around the cinema at the speakers wondering when the projectionist was going to realise he had accidentally turned the sound up too loud for the movie.
There is zero character analysis. Everyone looks the same and you cant distinguish anyone from anyone else throughout the film. It doesn't matter anyway because you don't have any reason to care about anyone in particular because there is no back story of anyone. The plot is flat dry and boring. Don't get me wrong it was based on an important event in history but this film does this no justice at all.
My biggest gripe is the lack of dialogue throughout the film. Was Nolan trying something new here? Probably but please don't do it again. There are shots of what are meant to be hundreds of thousands of soldiers all standing in lines on the beach all deathly quiet staring out to the ocean in most scenes. Even the terribly injured lying on stretchers are mutes.
So many scenes don't add any value and don't make any sense. The stupidity of trying to force a single 60kg soldier off a sinking ship to reduce the overall weight of a boat stuck on the sand? I mean really...who writes this stuff. The boat is taking on hundreds of litres of water and you want us to believe that one person will magically raise the boat off the beach? It's a head shaking moment that just makes no sense at all.
The whole thing is a b grade made for TV matinée crossed with the overly long 50 yard stares reminisce of a bad episode of the days our lives. The Dad in the boat couldn't care less that his son dies. He almost seems content. The plane scenes are slow and boring. They show little tactics and make us believe the entire German airforce was fought off by 3 spitfires. And don't get me started on the spitfire that somehow manages to linger in the air long after its engine has stopped for what seems like an eternity. Some say that Spitfire is still flying around without any fuel to this day. As my mate said, he didn't have to land on the beach, he could have flown all the way back to London.
I heard the budget was 150 million. That's got to be a joke. There is just no way. Either that or the majority of the scenes ended up on the cutting room floor. You certainly didn't have to pay your actors for speaking roles.
It's such a shame. This movie has so little going for it. Maybe the editor was coming down off a week long coke bender when he put this together because I have no doubt I could have done better with the raw footage and a PC version of Adode Premier.
Wait for DVD release and a night when you are not really into watching a movie to pop this one in. You wont miss the atmosphere of a cinema for this movie because there is none to talk of. I apologise for being so harsh but I would prefer an apology from the director for killing my expectations. 3/10 is very generous indeed.
How is it possible that it has been graded so high? So many mistakes that even my 14 year old son could find, History and Pilot nonsense etc.
The good, in short. Actors did a good job, but that is about it.
Then. Dunkirk was a major milestone during the second world war. The scale of it could not be seen in the movie. The soundtrack destroyed much of the overall feel and was annoying after awhile. Allot of noise to summarize it. The plot and suspense when soldiers were trapped in the fishing boat was ridiculous. I mean the boat was too heavy and one guy need to leave to make it float free, all while the boat was filled with more than 2 tons of water, really? And water kept coming in through bullet holes close to the water line but still with pressure that you could believe it was a submarine 20 meters below the surface. Then soldiers still manage to drown in the fishing boat. Allot of nonsense trying to get some nerve into the movie. This do not even belong in a B-movie, period. Then you have a pilot that can fly forever without the engine, even engage in enemy dogfight that he wins. He then do a flyby over the rescue flotilla (that could pick him up after ditching) but he choose to land on the beach to be captured by the Germans, what?
The pilot stand next to his plane and Giant gantry cranes are visible in the background. No such cranes existed in the 40s. For a time i wonder if there were a twist there in the end, moving in time or so, but no, the cranes kept showing in the background and Germans show up. By then i was hoping to move in time, about two hours back or so. Why i kept asking me, make such a bad movie on such a piece of history?
- IMAX: The impact of the bullets and bombs felt as if you were really there. The entire movie is shot in a very realistic way.
- Opening scene: The suspense, music and cinematography all came together very well in the opening scene, which really made me excited for the scenes to come.
- Acting: Poor acting can easily distract the audience from their experience of being in a certain time/place. But there was not a single moment in which an actor did something out of character. All expressions were very believable. Great acting!
But there were some major aspects I had issues with:
- Characters: The characters did not have any background story and there's hardly any dialogue to give some insight. The main characters are therefore replaceable for any other random soldier on that beach. I do not expect an elaborate introduction of every character, certainly not in a historical war movie, but the downside is that the audience cannot empathize with the main characters. I really didn't care for one of them to die. I've seen hundreds of soldiers die in earlier scenes of the movie, why would one or two more (just as hollow and unknown as any other soldier) bother me a bit? It's no must to focus on character development, as long as the other aspects of the movie make up for the lack of it. In Dunkirk that sadly was not the case.
- Editing: Sometimes it was hard to follow which moment in time is shown, because the movie abruptly cuts between three perspectives, therefore even showing some events twice. I find this non-linear storytelling and continuity breaks unnecessary and poorly executed.
- Repetitive: Much scenes are identical or slightly different from another. Especially the flight scenes did not add much to the story. Instead I rather would've seen some scenes at the front-line with troops actually defending the beach instead of just a bunch of scared, helpless troops waiting for the next plane to fly over and bomb the shite out of them. Keeping out the Germans at the front-line is just as much a part of the story of Dunkirk and it would've given us a chance to actually see the enemy and get some awesome battle scenes.
- Music: Usually I enjoy Zimmer's score. But in this movie there was no moment of silence, not a moment to break the suspense. Especially in IMAX, my ears were buzzing hours after I left the cinema. Was this intentional? Was it supposed to feel like one big action scene without any breaks, to get the same feeling of those soldiers, trapped between battles unable to take a break, constantly in stress of a nearing attack? Well, than Nolan did succeed. But I found it very annoying.
Overall I believe this movie is highly overrated, due to many biased Nolan fans and critics blindly hopping on the hype-train. I found it a very boring movie. The lack of an interesting plot or any interesting characters sadly wasn't compensated enough by the impressive audiovisuals. Rescue yourself from boredom and don't watch this movie!
The film is told from three perspectives: Air, Mole and Sea. This is where the movie falls a bit short. The editing at some points feels lazy and not very consistent: it cuts from a dramatic scene or intense action scene very quickly.
The film is told in a non-linear way: this makes us watch certain scenes twice through different perspectives. Although this could've been done in a very interesting way, it's very difficult to keep track of whose perspective we're watching at times. Even when certain semi-important (I'll get back to this later) soldiers die, it took me a while to realise this happened.
This is where my third and final problem come into question: the characters lack depth. You don't care about the main character, nor any of the other soldiers that are dying. If I'm watching a film about war, I like to bond with the characters I'm seeing on screen. If none of them show any real emotion, the viewer won't as well.
All in all, Dunkirk could've been amazing. I personally don't understand why it has such a high rating besides being directed by a very well-known director / starring famous actors (including infamous Harry Styles) / being a war biography. Disappointing.
The best dramatic gimmick? A valiant RAF pilot flies over the beachhead till he runs out of fuel, but he still has time gliding to shoot down one more Hun plane. That creates that final (5 minute) moment in the film where he quietly glides across the beach, providing that requisite film shot of all the British stars watching, biting their lips with respect.
Meanwhile, I am wondering why he is landing towards the German held beach? Then with all the emergencies on the plane (off course, landing gear won't come down) he continues to wear his high altitude breathing/comms headset? The plane lands, the pilot jumps out and stands looking at the dunes and approaching Germans. Now being filmed with the golden sunset lighting hue technique, we finally see the glowing pilot's face (IMO Tom Hardy, the best British Actor today) defiantly surrendering. You think they would have used real human stories from the event to tell the story... instead we get scenes created specifically for select stars who dropped by the set to spend the day shooting their lines. A wasted opportunity to tell an amazing story of how the civilian armada saved the day.
So, it looked promising and so lets start with the PROS;
The intro sequence all 6 minutes (including the first dive bombing) should have continued for the whole movie - EPIC!
That's it for pro's, really the rest will just make you depressed.
A poorly cobbled together film without a story and achingly under- utilized actors.
The awfully executed chronology lacked any reference or worthy explanation, exposing the glaring continuity issues and unbelievable plot mechanics.
Sure tell a few different stories, but please at least maintain continuity WITHIN each story, it's as though the decision was made to have all these points of view early on - yet when it came time to film they did it over 2 days. A few extras lined up on a beach and some borrowed planes. F*$*. we are approaching the 2020's dammit - use some bloody good CGI as you clearly can afford it.
The movie fails to portray even a 1/1000th of the actual evacuation - there were +- 330 000 troops leaving and over 60 000 killed ( thanks Wikipedia) yet ... Nolan fails to deliver any inkling of that sort of magnitude. The Brits left behind 63,879 vehicles including tanks and motorcycles + 2,472 field guns .... holy s*$(. but do we see a single tank or gun ... maybe 5 trucks and tug boat --- woo ooh ...
also the ending is Horses excrement, climaxing with some stupid spitfire pilot who is SO worried about fuel, yet manages to fly around and engage bombers for the WHOLE FILM right up to, and after its engine stops ... SURE ... then it unbelievably swoops around with no engine (they obviously just cut the sound to make it look like the engine had stopped) and then swoops past TWICE along the beach and it is assumed by the plot that it engages and SHOOTS DOWN an approaching Stukka dive bomber -NO! NO! I CALL BULLSH$T MR NOLAN!
So major bullsh%t climax moment out of the way, onto the meat and bones of this cut and pasted high school conceived garbage pile.
Day, morning, evening, rough seas, very calm seas - NEVER bloody mind - just SHOOT the scene dammit! The "DAY" progresses achingly slowly and even although we see two sunrises / sunsets / a storm and everything in between we are meant to believe it all happens during these story points, what LAZY film making .... I do not believe.
I never much cared for this Mr Nolan chap - and now after wasting my few dollar I feel confused for the future of film making and even more disappointed than ever for the general intelligence of the world. Are audiences/critics really that shallow / attention deficit that they cannot come up with an honest review so that others may find out before wasting time and effort?
pathetic for a $150 Million budget. If i could SAVE 50k p/a i'd have to work for 20 YEARS just to make 1/150th of the budget... and yet THIS is the result. These people are living in a ridiculous reality paid for by you and I>
It wouldn't be so bad if there was some dialogue to help us identify with Tommy's fears or motivation but the first part of the film is played out in almost mute silence. A group of soldiers walk through Dunkirk without any conversation or discussion of their situation. Thousands of soldiers stand on the beach waiting for rescue with no-one apparently talking to each other. I'm sorry but this is just unrealistic. But then it's equally unrealistic for Tommy and his comrades to have walked through a clean and rather modern looking town of Dunkirk where there is no damage to any of the buildings, despite the fact that the enemy (don't mention the Germans) are attacking the place. Freshly swept roads, clean windows and picture perfect sandbags for the French army to hide behind surely the filmmakers could have built a decent set to depict a war damaged section of town?
Christopher Nolan has said that he wanted to avoid CGI in this film and opt instead for a realistic approach. Okay, CGI has become all pervasive in modern films (and some of it is downright cheesy) but there's surely no reason why it couldn't have been used in this film to create the illusion of more soldiers on the beach or extra boats out at sea. Trying to depict such a large scale and epic event as Dunkirk in a realistic and authentic way is virtually impossible without using some CGI.
The cinematic device of three different story lines being told on three separate timescales just doesn't work in this movie. The constant jumping back and forth between the different threads leads to some jarring continuity effects. One minute the sky is overcast, the next it's clear and sunny. One moment it's nighttime, the next it's daytime. It's a shocking mess.
Halfway through the movie I found myself shifting around in my seat feeling increasingly irritated and it wasn't just the misadventures of our "hero". I realised it was the background music causing my discomfort; a relentless, monotonous assault on the ears. War might be hell but this soundtrack isn't far behind. When the small boats arrive at Dunkirk, a stirring rendition of 'Nimrod' from Elgar's 'Enigma' variations is played, albeit played at quarter speed. Is this really counted as being an original music score as stated in the credits? Sadly the answer appears to be yes because Elgar's music is no longer under copyright protection. The fact that somebody got credit for writing this particular section of "original" music is absolutely shameful.
The clichés: when Tom Hardy's pilot has a problem with his fuel gauge and has to start making manual calculations on what fuel he has left, what are the chances that he will actually run out of fuel before the film ends? Well knock me down with a feather! He's run out of fuel. Gosh, I never saw that plot twist coming
The young boy who jumps on the small boat at the last moment as it leaves England, not realising (in his naivety) that it could be a dangerous journey. What are the chances of him being badly injured or even dying? Oh look he's dead. Surprised? Well only by the manner of his death and the lack of concern from the skipper of the boat when told of what's happened.
What are the chances that our brave Spitfire pilot (who's just ditched in the sea) is going to be rescued from drowning at the very last second as the water laps over his head? What a cliffhanger! Our small boat gets there in the nick of time to save the day! On the edge of my seat and holding my breath with excitement? Er, no.
Then we have that ridiculous ending. After shooting down an enemy plane (don't mention the Germans) Tom Hardy runs out of fuel. In an outstanding display of flying skills, our pilot extraordinaire not only manages to glide his Spitfire up and down the beach a couple of times but shoots down a Stuka bomber in the process before making a picture perfect landing on the beach as the sun sets. Why bother landing on the beach? He could have flown back to England in time for tea and tiffin. As the sun goes down he destroys his aircraft so the enemy (please don't mention the Germans) can't get their hands on it. Quite frankly a crash landing would have been much more entertaining and an appropriate epitaph for this sorry farrago of a movie.
Verdict? This film is a turkey.
Snookered by the hype and war film fandom, ducats were placed on counter, a ticket for admission passed back. Lights dimmed, anticipation mounted, and... nothing. Nothing. Save lurching between disparate, battle set pieces featuring people for whom little or no empathy exists. Lacking investment in the characters, what remains are merely adequate, bloodless war scenes easily outgunned by the recent "Fury" and, farther back, "Saving Private Ryan." For example, a young boy is killed but we know nothing of him, nothing of his motivation for climbing aboard a civilian, Dunkirk-bound boat at the last minute. We feel nothing for him because he's simply a cardboard cutout.
As the actors barely register emotion, boredom set in and not to be shaken off. The characters move as wind-up toys. There are few actors who bare their soul like Cillian Murphy, here a shell-shocked survivor. As directed, he sleepwalks with the depth of an amateur in a high school production. He's not alone. All the actors turn in measured performances with identical blank looks and monotone deliveries. Particularly wasted is the actor's actor, Kenneth Branagh.
Certainly the bravery and sacrifice of civilian and military in the Dunkirk evacuation is celebrated in "Dunkirk." Thank you. However, this historical action occurred in 1940. Films echo the zeitgeist of the time in which they're produced. It's an odd choice to make a large (bad) film about an evacuation three-quarters of a century past. There's a stink of political agenda afoot in "Dunkirk" that's intolerable. The enemy, unseen in "Dunkirk," lurks and kills from safety by air and ground. Surrounded with backs to the the Atlantic, the very survival of a way of life is in question, as portrayed in "Dunkirk." (Spoiler Alert: The Allies Won The War.) The enemy's attacks are isolated like terrorism. The result is "Dunkirk" weaves a cautionary allegory mirroring religious extremism bent on destroying all non-believers.
Subtle propaganda is dangerous. "Dunkirk" fits that bill. Either that or Nolan is a complete idiot who hasn't a whit of sense. It's a toss-up based on a filmography including the lackluster borefest "Interstellar," and the beyond inane "Inception."
Nolan remains static in his career with "Dunkirk." His films are half-baked, underwritten, detached, and emotion-free. "Dunkirk" plays like a rough cut by a bad director who expects the viewer to emotionally fill-in-the-blanks. "Dunkirk" even lacks the courage of its convictions in being bloodless - there are no graphic deaths. At least Spielberg had the courage to rub the viewer's nose in the stench of death in "Saving Private Ryan." The first half hour of that film is unprecedented in the depiction of carnage (one can almost taste the grit of raining sand from nearby mortar strikes). Nolan sanitizes-for-your-own-protection. Yet he chose a violent topic and punked out; a war movie detached from death is not a film about war. By design, war cannot include gratuitous violence, just insanity - an element also lacking in "Dunkirk."
The wall-to-wall dramatic, but mixed low, score loses its effectiveness and becomes annoying. And, the constant, ham-handed crosscutting between stories further waters this already thin soup by stopping a scene's dramatic momentum.
A short scene in "Mrs. Miniver" (1942) featuring civilian Walter Pidgeon returning from Dunkirk in his shot up runabout says more in the visuals and a few lines of dialogue about the evacuation than the entirety of "Dunkirk." As Trump might Tweet, "Sad!"
Present-day WWII movies just don't hold a candle to the classics (All Quiet on the Western Front, The Longest Day, Bridge on the River Kwai, Patton, and my all-time favorite film, The Great Escape), nor even big-budget mediocre fare from relatively recent times like A Bridge Too Far or The Battle of Britain. There's way too much pretentious nonsense in modern war movies. Every filmmaker these days has to make a "statement" about the horrors of war, as if intelligent viewers weren't already aware of that fact. Therefore, instead of a good story with appealing and memorable characters we get one that focuses on "the coward," because in the modern-day mindset, anyone who acts in war with dignity and courage and self-sacrifice is seen as unrealistic and somehow a dupe of the evil powers that be.
None of those characters was remotely interesting or appealing and the time shifts were totally unnecessary. In addition, the omnipresent music was a total turn-off. There was never any chance to actually hear the real sounds of war, which includes silence and the banter of soldiers trying to make the best of a bad situation. All told, this is the most-overrated movie I've seen in years. Thank God I have the classics on VHS and DVD.
*The worst voice quality of the recently watched films - terrible *Bad start ever, asphalt road, clear walls etc!!! *Too sterile pictures, sights - every body who starts a research will see on the old 1940s photos of Dunkirk that roads , buildings and coasts were full of mess, debris etc. *The casts have no faces, names like zombies - only a died boy's name - George- remained in my mind. There is no really main character(s) *Very poor views of the dogfights *Poor picture quality -grain noisy and sometimes the objects is out of focus- and camera movements compared example to the War for the Planet of the Apes - over all the best quality every levels, sound, voice, picture quality, camera movements actors performances etc.- and compared to other IMAX movies *I gave only 1 point because of these reasons, the huge budget and the very professional A list directors, crews and actors. The bottom of the B category for ~150 mil.
Finally I was a big Nolan fan but now I am very disappointed and a bit up set in turn I'm and my family big fan of the cinemas especially ODEON ISENSE with Dolby Atmos. Usually I didn't do reviews I'm sick of this terrible movies.
Dunkirk was more spectacular than 7 or so boats, 3 planes and less than 300 men in a line on a beach.
And whose idea was it to pay Tom Hardy a ridiculous sum of the budget to once again hide his face and never actually do what he is paid to do which last I checked was acting? It's obvious he was used in this movie to give it some credibility just like they did with the Mad Max debacle where he spent 3 quarters of the movie with a face covering on preventing him from speaking.
The noise was awful and apparently some of that noise was considered to be music! Dull bass throbbing in every scene.
Story? Lets not even go there. I can sum up the Story in one paragraph although you cannot really consider it a spoiler because there's nothing in this to spoil.
"Trapped on a beach awaiting rescue but the ships keep getting destroyed by dive bombers with only 3 planes to protect those ships. Ends with Hardy finally revealing his face when he is captured after landing his plane which has run out of fuel."
That's it. Everything else in between is just noise.
To the people who consider themselves to be critics I say this: If you want the movie industry to become like the gaming industry where the main goal is most profit in shortest time regardless of the content then keep spouting the BS otherwise you need to start telling the truth for once.
Two hours of noise and it cost them $100 million to make? It's obvious where that money went because these so called movie creators couldn't even be bothered to use CGI to expand the number of men, ships and planes to really set the scene.
There was nothing in this movie and Tom Hardy was thick or corrupt enough to be used as the marketing tool.
Don't waste your money.
I don't know where to begin. So I will start at the weakest link. The acting. Still great, but any passable actor could have been given any of the major roles and done a great job. I know almost no more about the battle of Dunkirk after seeing the film than I did before, and I am not exactly a WWII historian. Truth be told, I learned all I know about the battle of Dunkirk from the movie poster. Does that weaken the film? Hell no, this is a film about survival. The opening scene tells it all and sets the stage as we get our first glimpse into a young soldier's need to stay alive, and his creative attempts to do so. That actor may even be considered the main character of the film. More words have been written so far in this review than he speaks. And I have no clue who the actor in that role is. It is humorous that Tom Hardy looks like Bane through most the film in the role of a pilot wearing an oxygen mask throughout. Kenneth Branagh is the only officer with any lines in the film, so that should give you an idea of the POV that we experience. We are the enlisted man trying to find a way to stay alive in a chaotic and harrowing battle. Though I believe Dunkirk will win every single technical Oscar, I would be surprised if it has any acting nominations at all.
How does Nolan elevate this above other films of a similar nature? I think he says it best himself, when he describes Dunkirk as a thriller more than a war film. He pulls that off superbly.
When a ship starts to take in water as numerous bullets penetrate its hull, I wanted to jump out of my seat and cover up the holes myself.
The film has three separate stories that are titled Mole, Sea and Air. And we all know where Moles live. The way the narratives of the three stories unfold and how they are all tied together is what makes the film a masterpiece. Much has been said about Nolan using IMAX film cameras and how the film is enriched by this. I don't know. I doubt I saw actual film being projected at my screening. Every frame looked terrific though.
So what is the most superlative aspect of the film? Gotta be the soundtrack. Hans Zimmer will win the Oscar for this without a doubt. So , so brilliant. This is not a soundtrack that I would buy at the store and play on my stereo. This is a soundtrack that weaves throughout the three narratives seamlessly and creates this phenomenal sense of tension. There are times when a two or three minute tense orchestral passage plays continuously as the story shifts from the ground to the sea then to the air and the music draws the three stories together. Zimmer's soundtrack reminds me of the way that Bernard Hermann's work was so vitally important in building suspense in most Hitchcock films. Though that description almost sells Zimmer short. His soundtrack is that good.
I don't think this is a film that will retain even half of its strength in your home theater. No folks, this is a film that you cough up for an overpriced IMAX ticket and rationalize it by knowing that experiencing Dunkirk in any other fashion will just not cut it.
The flyover shots of a few dozen soldiers on the beaches, when there should be ten of thousands, failed to express the enormity of the situation. Similarly the dozen or so civilian boats, when there should have been thousands, underwhelmed their contributions. The attempt to humanize the story by showing a few individual vignettes, in one case a single incident shown from multiple perspectives, also failed.
No one character was engaging enough to impress the tension or magnitude of the situation. In essence this movie made a momentous and terrifying event a little boring. In doing so, it does a disservice to those that have experienced combat.