Sunday, August 6, 2017

Dunkirk Review

Anyone up for an intense war drama about the humiliating retreat from the beaches of Dunkirk?

I'm going to be as upfront about Dunkirk as I can possibly be, because this is a movie where you'll either love it based on its premise and cast or hate it. *Ahem*

I loved Dunkirk. From a film perspective, a historical perspective, and even from just a human perspective, I loved this movie. To see a movie garner as much praise as Dunkirk did and gain a lot of award season buzz while being a summer blockbuster is a miracle to say the least, especially because there are a ton of moments in this film that shouldn't work. There's hardly any dialogue. There are three different perspectives in time and are all meshed together haphazardly. Barely anyone is recognizable and we don't even learn most of our heroes' names. There are even some scenes that are too dark to actually tell what's going on.

And yet all of it works in some weird way. And no, just because I'm a history buff doesn't mean I love this movie because it has a fascinating setting (although it does), but just because it's a great movie that fills you with feelings that you don't really feel all that much in movies; terror.

Oh sure, you can be scared in a horror movie with gore, violence, and something making a loud noise, but Dunkirk is the kind of terror where you know everyone can, and most likely will, die. It's the same kind of terror when you know Aerith it going to die in Final Fantasy VII, or that the entire crew of the Nostromos will die in Alien. It's just the knowledge that not everyone will make it out of this movie alive and you're compelled to see how it happens.

Let's get some background here though. Here we have Christopher Nolan directing another movie where he tries to give humans those... uh, what do you call them... emotions! He tries to give humans emotions, but it's a movie where the emotion is all about fear. All of the characters have one simple goal that never changes throughout the movie, and we're just meant to come along for the ride. And for those that are really unaware, Christopher Nolan is mostly known for making either high concept movies where people have few emotions, or intricate stories with well cast actors, but still few emotions. Dunkirk has him abandoning telling a cohesive story or doing anything high concept minus the fractured scale of time in favor of just letting people stew in atmosphere. You'll often see several minutes of people just walking on a beach wondering how they're going to stay alive, or seeing a pilot fly around wondering if he'll have enough fuel to survive.

So for anyone that doesn't know about the retreat at Dunkirk, it's time for a history lesson! Dunkirk was a humiliating retreat for the British and French in World War II, where both forces were pushed to the beaches of Northern France, specifically the beaches of Dunkirk. Germans were constantly moving in on them and were just waiting to pounce and slaughter their enemies. Unfortunately, the British had no way to get their soldiers off of the beaches in time, so then Prime Minister Winston Churchill pretty much told any British civilian that if they had a boat they needed to get in it, sail to Dunkirk, save as many soldiers as they could, and keep doing that until every soldier was saved. It was a success, but it was still a pathetic loss for the British, and it gave the Nazis a strong foothold into the English Channel. In total, nearly 3,500 British soldiers died, while 13,000 were injured.

So imagine a summer blockbuster about that!

I usually go ahead and talk about movies that need to be experienced more than anything else, because it's just so hard to accurately describe them. Sure, there are action scenes and twists, but all of them feel insignificant at the end of the day. People fight, people die, but I honestly don't remember any of it. And it doesn't really matter to be perfectly honest. Dunkirk works so well because even without its characters, or its dialogue, or the entire war going on around them, all that really matters is the sense of dread. The dread almost seeps into the theatre as you watch it.

There are a few people that are calling this Christopher Nolan's best movie. First thing's first, no it isn't. Yeah it's great and is intense in the same way that Gravity was intense, but I'd still watch Inception, The Dark Knight, or The Prestige over Dunkirk any day of the week. But looking out at other movies that have hit over the summer like Atomic Blonde, The Emoji Movie, and Dark Tower (which I'm gonna talk about next week I swear), Dunkirk is different enough to the point where it should at least be watched to clean your palette from action movies and absolute dreck that fills my soul with poop emojis and seriously why did someone think that making a movie about emojis was a good idea?

Also it shows that Harry Styles can act.

Yes, THAT Harry Styles.

So... I don't really know how to end this one guys. Umm... so it looks like The Emoji Movie turned a profit at the box office. Let's let that sink in for a moment... all good? Okay, see you next week for a good ol' Stephen King movie!


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