Salisbury Press

Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Movie Review: ‘Dunkirk’

Friday, August 11, 2017 by PAUL WILLISTEIN pwillistein@tnonline.com in Focus

“Dunkirk” is a brutally-realistic film based on the true story about a World War II battle in which the retreat of Allied Forces became a rallying cry for United Kingdom Prime Minister Winston Churchill with the military and civilians to fight the Nazis.

Soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire and France were surrounded by the Nazi army on the beaches and harbor of Dunkirk, France, between May 26 and June 4, 1940, in the Battle of France during World War II. An estimated 300,000 Allied soldiers were evacuated by British civilians in “Operation Dynamo,” navigating a flotilla of approximately 700 private recreational and fishing boats, known as “The Little Ships,” across the English Channel from France to England.

“Dunkirk” not only depicts the brave rescues, but the bombing by Nazi war planes of Allied ships, many of which apparently flew the Red Cross banner. An even more major segment of “Dunkirk” concentrates on dogfights between Allied Spitfire fighter plans and Nazi bombers.

“Dunkirk” is gripping from the very first moments to the end, with unrelenting tension. In the genre, it is comparable to some of the best contemporary and classic World War II movie dramas.

“Dunkirk” is not an easy film to watch. The explosions, the sinking ships, the men swimming and drowning as oil-fueled flames burn on the water, are horrific, startling and realistic. Nonetheless, “Dunkirk” is a must-see. Don’t miss it during its theatrical release.

“Dunkirk,” filmed in the 70 mm Imax format, was seen in the standard format for this review. Some of the aerial scenes would be spectacular in the premium-priced format on the huge screen.

The film stars several young, relatively unknown, but facially-striking, actors, who portray soldiers, including Fionn Whitehead (Tommy), Damien Bonnard (French soldier), Aneurin Barnard (Gibson) and Jack Lowden (Collins, a fighter pilot).

There are also well-known actors portraying soldiers, including Tom Hardy (Farrier, an Allied fighter pilot), James D’Arcy (Colonel Winnant), Cillian Murphy (Shivering Soldier), Kenneth Branagh (Allied Commander Bolton), as well as British pop band One Direction’s Harry Styles (Alex).

The rescue boat that is focused on is dubbed Moonstone. The skipper is Oscar supporting actor recipient (“Bridge Of Spies,” 2016) Mark Rylance (Mr. Dawson). On board are Barry Keoghan (George) and Tom Glynn-Carney (Peter).

“Dunkirk” should garner several Oscar nominations including director and screenplay (Christopher Nolan), cinematography (Director of Photography Hoyte Van Hoytema, “Spectre, 2015; “Interstellar,” 2014; “Her,” 2013; editing (Lee Smith, Oscar nomination, “The Dark Knight,” 2009), and original score (Hans Zimmer, nine Oscar original score nominations; Oscar original score recipient, “The Lion King,” 1994).

Zimmer’s score propels the film with an electronic score, which references Edward Elgar ” Nimrod,” a tribute to his friend, Augustus Jaeger, who urged him to continue composing “The Enigma Variations” when he was about to give up, an apt metaphor for the legacy of Dunkirk, that of “The Dunkirk Spirit,” which infuses British pride to this day.

The cross-cutting of the three stories: that of soldiers mowed down on the beach or killed in bombed-out transport ships, the Moonstone rescue boat, and the dogfights, keeps the movie-goer nearly as off-guard as the Dunkirk soldiers.

Nolan (Oscar best picture nominations, “Inception,” 2010; “Memento,” 2000) is at his nonlinear narrative best here. He has made a film that is unshakable. Through riveting visuals and minimal dialogue, the viewer feels he or she is part of the action.

After seeing “Dunkirk,” you will marvel anew at the bravery of World War II era soldiers and civilians. You may also realize what it takes, in any era, to battle consummate evil.

“Dunkirk,”MPAA Rated PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned. Some Material May Be Inappropriate For Children Under 13.) for intense war experience and some language; Genre: Action, Drama, History, War; Run time: 1 hr., 46 min. Distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures.

Box Office,Aug. 4: “The Dark Tower,” the fantasy film based on the Stephen King novel, opened at No. 1 for the weekend with a weak end, opening with $19.5 million, battling “Dunkirk” to No. 2 after two weeks at No. 1, with $17.6 million, $133.5 million, three weeks.

3. “The Emoji Movie” dropped one place, $12.3 million, $49.4 million, two weeks.

4. “Girls Trip” stayed at No. 4, dropped one slot, with $11.4 million, $85.4 million, three weeks.

5. “Kidnap,” opening, $10.2 million, one week.

6. “Spider-Man: Homecoming” slid down one slots, $8.8 million, $294.9 million, five weeks.

7. “Atomic Blonde” dropped three slots, with $8.2 million, $34.1 million, two weeks.

8. “Detroit,” opening, $7.3 million, one week.

9. “War for the Planet of the Apes” slipped down three places, $6 million, $130.2 million, four weeks.

10. “Despicable Me 3” dropped three places, one notch, $5.2 million, $240.7 million, six weeks.

Unreel,Aug. 11:

“Annabelle: Creation,”R: David F. Sandberg directs Miranda Otto, Stephanie Sigman, Lulu Wilson, and Talitha Bateman in the Horror film. A doll-maker’s possessed creation, Annabelle, threatens a family.

“The Glass Castle,”PG-13: Destin Daniel Cretton directs Brie Larson, Woody Harrelson, Naomi Watts, and Ella Anderson in the Biography- Drama. A dysfunctional family of nonconformists encourages their daughter to be an artist.

“The Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature,”PG: Cal Brunker directs the voice talents of Will Arnett, Katherine Heigl, Maya Rudolph, and Jackie Chan in the Animation-Comedy about Surly and his friends.

“Ingrid Goes West,”R: Matt Spicer directs Aubrey Plaza, Elizabeth Olsen, O’Shea Jackson Jr., and Wyatt Russell in the Comedy about an Instagram stalker who moves to Los Angeles.

Four Popcorn Boxes out of Five Popcorn Boxes