When someone with Christopher Nolan‘s filmography has a passion project, you REALLY start to hope it gets made.  When the resulting film is a war epic like Dunkirk, you thank your lucky cinema stars and appriciate the struggle to get to the finish line.

In May 1940 during WWII, Germany advanced into France, trapping Allied troops on the beaches of Dunkirk. Under air and ground cover from British and French forces, troops were slowly and methodically evacuated from the beach using every serviceable naval and civilian vessel that could be found. Just imagine being stuck on an empty stretch of sand, seeing the smoke from the land behind you burning under enemy fire.  Every single time you think you’ll make it off the beach, the enemy divebombs your ship and dashes any/all hope of escaping.  That’s Dunkirk.

The civilian fleet of small craft brave the war to help ferry servicemen back home across the channel.

The film is like a candy store for aeronautical history buffs, the sound design alone of the dog fights kept me on the edge of my seat. Admittedly, this is not my area of historical passion, but I really do enjoy anything with a period bent to it.  The attention to detail should come as no shock to fans of Chris Nolan’s work, and his meticulous eye really makes Dunkirk a masterpiece of the genre.

There is very limited dialog, the film almost goes 5 full minutes without true lines, and continues as such.  It keeps you engaged in the action, in the plight of the troops trying to go home, which they can almost see from the beach.

SCORE: 4 OUT OF 5, viewed in standard non 3d, would see again in Imax or similar

The Good: Seriously, cannot say enough good things about the sound design.  The guns will make you jump, the whine of the overhead bombers will make you anxious. If this film doesn’t win an Oscar in this category, I will genuinely be shocked. The practical dog fights are also astounding.  Of course theres’ some VFX because these specimens of the sky can’t be crashed without serious damage.  This article about one of the flightmen is great on the subject.

The Bad: Not really anything ‘bad’, unless you’re going in expecting a bloodbath ala Saving Private Ryan or similar.   This is not one of those types of war films, but it’s impact is nothing less than those either.  There are no headshots, there is no graphic body parts flying in every direction scene, because again, a different kettle of fish.

Critics are already calling Dunkirk Nolan’s best work, and it is a minimalist masterpiece with a surprisingly gentle finesse considering the subject matter.  My heart will still belong to Inception, though.

Dunkirk opens worldwide on Friday July 21st 2017.

ABOUT >> Mary Anne Butler
  • BIO >> Mary Anne Butler (Mab) is a reporter and photographer from San Francisco California. She is a lifelong geek, huge music nerd, occasionally cosplays at conventions, does Renaissance Faires, and in general lives the life of a True Believer. She may be short, but she makes up for it with a loud voice.
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