2017 Summer Movie Review: Dunkirk

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Three British soldiers waiting to be rescued in Christoper Nolan’s Dunkirk. (Source: IMDb)

Who doesn’t love Christopher Nolan? He’s one of the most ambitious yet brilliant filmmakers working today, who has a very unique style relying on the practicality. He is widely known for rebooting the Batman franchise after the dismal Batman and Robin. He often transports the audience to another world in movies such as the mind-bending Inception and the disappointing and overrated Interstellar. His latest film, Dunkirk, is a different approach for Nolan. A film taking place in a historical setting; let alone, World War II. Is there anything he can’t do?

Dunkirk features three storylines set on land, at sea, and in the air, told in non-linear fashion (make sure you pay attention to what’s going on). During the evacuation on the beaches of France, Nazi Germany has surrounded 400,000 men from Britain, Belgium, Canada, and France. Among those who are waiting to be rescued are Tommy (Fionn Whitehead) and Alex (One Direction’s Harry Styles), both of whom are in the British Army. While on the pier, Commander Bolton (Kenneth Branagh) and Col. Winnant (James D’Arcy, Agent Carter) are making sure the soldiers are settling on the ships safely.

Meanwhile, out at sea, Mr. Dawson (Mark Rylance) is driving in his yacht with his son Peter (Tom Glynn-Carney). They rescue a wounded soldier (Cillian Murphy), whose U-boat got hit by a torpedo, while three Spitfire planes—one of them piloted by Farrier (Tom Hardy, who is in a mask again)—fly overhead to keep the Germans out.

It has been said a thousand times, but it’s a fact that every war is hell. Even every war movie depicts them as hell. This is no surprise for Dunkirk. Unlike the graphic nature of Saving Private Ryan and Hacksaw Ridge, this movie is more of a survival story than anything (hence the PG-13 rating). Nolan takes this incredible story to full advantage with minimal dialogue and tension that never lets up until the end. Hans Zimmer’s outstanding score, like the rest of the movie, resembles a ticking time bomb.

What I appreciated about Dunkirk is the authenticity and realism of its depiction. As stated above, Nolan is known for using more practical effects than CGI, which is rare for a summer blockbuster. Not only is the movie filmed at the actual location of the evacuation, it also features real WWII-era carriers, planes and guns. The action sequences—set in all three locations—are unlike anything you’ve ever seen. It makes the audience feel like they are actually there witnessing these events.

Being their acting debuts, Whitehead and Styles both bring forth such nuanced bravery into their performances as the two British soldiers risking their lives. Featuring such a tremendous cast, the audience sympathizes with the characters while it shifts between these three storylines. It’s an experience that I’ll definitely revisit time and again.

There has never been a movie that hit me harder all year than Dunkirk. This is a suspenseful, emotional roller-coaster ride. Even Peter Travers went as far as calling it “the greatest war film ever”, which is saying a lot. Dunkirk is definitely up there with some of the greats. I would be surprised if it receives little recognition at this year’s Oscars. It’s easily a front-runner for Best Picture. The question is: Will Christopher Nolan receive his first nomination as director? We’ll just have to wait and see.

4/4

Movie Review: Interstellar

Interstellar

Cooper (Matthew McConaughey) and his daughter Murphy (Mackenzie Foy) look up in the stars in Christopher Nolan’s ambitious space epic “Interstellar”

Christopher Nolan has done the impossible! After making Inception and The Dark Knight trilogy, he has truly defined the word “ambitious” with Interstellar. This follows the footpaths of 2001: A Space Odyssey by going into the unknown. Unlike last year’s Gravity, he provides more of a philosophical look of space that will be discussed about for years to come. Interstellar asks a lot of questions about the world we live in. Is this the latest masterpiece that we have been expecting from Chrisopher Nolan?

No! With its 169-minute running time, the movie is 20 minutes too long. Nevertheless, it’s quite a rich, thought-provoking experience.

In the future, Earth has been devastated by drought. There are no food sources, leaving many people to suffer. Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), a former NASA pilot is living on a farm in the middle of nowhere with his father-in-law Donald (John Lithgow), son Tom (Timothée Chalamet; Casey Affleck as older Tom), and daughter Murphy (Mackenzie Foy; Jessica Chastain as older Murphy). When he is taken to a NASA installation led by Professor Brand (Michael Caine), he embarks on a mission with the Endurance crew through a wormhole into another galaxy. This upsets Murphy, but Cooper has to do it in order to save the world. His crew consists of Amelia Brand (Anne Hathaway), two scientists (Wes Bently and David Gyasi), and two robots, TARS (voiced by Bill Irwin) and CASE (voiced by Josh Stewart). While on the mission, he is required to think bigger than ever before. Not only that, he must choose between his children and future generations.

This is a career-changing role for McConaughey. He is beginning to leave behind his roles in romantic comedies (to be fair, his abs deliver much better performances in those movies), and becoming a true star. Some of the film’s heartwrencing scenes involve Cooper leaving his daughter behind, and beginning to think outside the box after Murph believes “ghosts” are in the house; leaving mysterious messages in dust like STAY.

Years later, while traveling through space, he stays young while his children grow into adulthood. His crew starts to question how love is hard to measure through scientific terms. This is a touching message that goes beyond the universe.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this movie gets some recognition this Oscar season, especially for its breathtaking visual effects and terrific performances from McConaughey and Chastain. Although this is far from Christopher Nolan’s best movie, it’s an experience unlike any other. This one of the most beautiful movies I’ve ever seen!

3.5/4