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

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2015 Summer Movie Review: Mad Max: Fury Road

It's literally a mad, mad, mad, mad, world for Max in George Miller's latest reboot

It’s literally a mad, mad, mad, mad, world for Max in George Miller’s latest reboot “Mad Max: Fury Road”

If there is a movie that everyone should see this summer, Mad Max: Fury Road would be it.

For someone who has not seen the original Mad Max trilogy starring Mel Gibson, I think Mad Max: Fury Road stands on its own. Aussie director George Miller returns to the franchise 30 years after the release of Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome. It lives up to the hype by giving what the audiences want: an insane thrill-ride with a surprisingly convincing narrative. What can be more awesome than flames shooting out of the neck of a guitar?

In a post-apocalyptic future, humanity has been broken and the remaining survivors are driven mad in need of  necessary resources such as food, water, and gas. Max Rockanstansky (Tom Hardy), one of the survivors, is haunted by his past. He believes the only way to live in the desert wasteland is survive. However, he gets kidnapped by a cult led by Immortan Joe (Hugh Keays-Byrne). Max is held captive as a blood bag for Nux (Nicholas Hoult), one of the “War Boys” working for Joe. After realizing his five “breeders” are missing, Joe sends his cult to drive through the desert – in one of the best action sequences of the year – in pursuit of a rig carrying 3,000 gallons of gasoline driven by the Imperator Furiosa (Charlize Theron). Then, Max joins forces with Furiosa to help the “breeders” to safety.

Nowadays, summer blockbusters have been overstuffed with CGI and shaky camera work. What Miller does with Fury Road is none of that. Most of the effects are practical, giving the sense of realism and insanity of the action. It’s refreshing to see what is going on during the action with the steady camera work (although a little shaky) and fast-paced editing. There is great tension; making the audience feel like they are in the rig with Max and Furiosa.

Miller started filming in his native Australia. But after the amount of rainfall changing the landscape, he moved the production to no better place than in the deserts of Namibia. The scenery is downright gorgeous; with the shades of orange capturing scenes in which take place during the day and blue capturing the scenes taking place at night. The majority of the film takes place on the go, but it’s more than just a two-hour chase sequence. It’s a story of hope for humanity, willing to survive, and a chance for redemption. Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron and Nicholas Hoult kick ass in one of the best action films ever made.

4/4

My Most Anticipated Movies for 2015

Happy New Year, everybody. I hope you made your resolutions. Last year has been a strong year for movies. There were many great surprises and some great disappointments. I hope 2015 will have movies that will meet and exceed audience’s expectations like last year. With that said, here is my list of the ten most anticipated movies for this year.

Honorable Mentions (in alphabetical order): Child 44 (April 17), Crimson Peak (October 16), Far From the Madding Crowd (May 1), The Good Dinosaur (November 25), The Hateful Eight (December 25), In the Heart of the Sea (December 11), Inside Out (June 19), Jupiter Ascending (February 6), The Last Five Years (February 13), Pan (July 24), Paper Towns (June 5), True Story (April 10)

10. Ant-Man (in theaters July 17; directed by Peyton Reed; starring Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, Evangeline Lilly, Hayley Atwell, and Corey Stoll) – Before seeing footage for this, I haven’t heard a lot about Ant-Man. Paul Rudd is one of the funniest comedians working today. It’s interesting to see him in something unlike his other work. I have a feeling this would be pretty good. The effects reminded me Honey, We Shrunk Ourselves and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids.

9. The Fantastic Four (in theaters August 7; directed by Josh Trank; starring Miles Teller, Kate Mara, Michael B. Jordan, and Jamie Bell) – Even though a trailer has yet to be released, it’s about time for a reboot after that awful 2005 version starring Chris Evans and Jessica Alba. Gotta love that cast.

8. The Walk (in theaters October 2; directed by Robert Zemeckis; starring Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Ben Kingsley, Charlotte Le Bon) – I’m glad Zemeckis returned to live-action in 2012 with Flight. This movie tells the true story of Philippe Petit attempting to cross the World Trade Center on a high wire. I think the movie would look quite something in 3D. With Gordon-Levitt becoming one of my favorite actors, I have high hopes for this.

7. The Untitled Cold War Film (a.k.a. St. James Place) (in theaters October 16; directed by Steven Spielberg; starring Tom Hanks) – Following  American lawyer James Donovan recruited by the CIA to help rescue a pilot from being detained in the Soviet Union during the Cold War. Steven Spielberg is my favorite filmmaker, and Tom Hanks is my favorite actor. I smell Oscar bait.

6. Tomorrowland (in theaters May 22; directed by Brad Bird; starring George Clooney, Hugh Laurie, and Britt Robertson) – Given that Brad Bird directed the best film in the Mission: Impossible series – Ghost Protocol – I think the movie looks amazing. Again, the cast is great!

5. Mad Max: Fury Road (in theaters May 15; directed by George Miller; starring Tom Hardy, Charlize Theron, Nicholas Hoult, and Rosie Huntington-Whitely) – I haven’t seen any of the Mad Max films. This movie looks absolutely insane and over-the-top fun. Tom Hardy and Charlize Theron can do no wrong. The action looks breathtaking!

4. Jurassic World (in theaters June 12; directed by Colin Treverrow; starring Chris Pratt, Bryce Dallas Howard, Judy Greer, and Vincent D’Onofrio) – Jurassic Park is one of my all-time favorite films. It made me feel like a kid seeing something unlike anything I’ve seen before. This movie looks as tense as the first film was. I cannot wait to see Chris Pratt capture his charm and dinosaurs chasing him while riding his motorcycle.

3. Spectre (in theaters November 7; directed by Sam Mendes; starring Daniel Craig, Ralph Fiennes, Lea Seydoux, and Dave Bautista) – I love James Bond. I love the cast. I loved the last film. I CANNOT WAIT!

2. Star Wars: Episode VII – The Force Awakens (in theaters December 18; directed by J.J. Abrams; starring Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, Carrie Fisher, Andy Serkis, and Max von Sydow) – Why am I looking forward to this? Because It’s STAR WARS!!!!!

1. The Avengers: Age of Ultron (directed by Joss Whedon; starring Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Samuel L. Jackson, and Scarlett Johansson) – Do I need to explain?? I loved the first Avengers, and I hope this will have the humor, the phenomenal action, and the awesomeness that made the first film a hit. I want May 1st to come quicker!

I hope you enjoyed my picks. Leave comments on what movie you are looking forward to see this year. Stay tuned for my lists of the best and worst movies of 2014 in the middle of January. Take care!