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890 out of 1381 people found the following review useful:

A technical masterpiece that is nearly devoid of palpable emotion and compelling characters.

Author: Cameron Clay (criticadelcinema)
19 July 2017

Might as well get right to it, then. At the risk of sounding like a contrarian, I did not love this film. Do I love elements of this? Yes. Is this a 5-star masterpiece? Unfortunately, no.

The cinematography here at least, is masterful. Director Christopher Nolan has, without a doubt, reached the pinnacle of on-screen spectacle here. The feats of practical effects in this film are breathtaking. The casting of nearly 6,000 extras, authentic WWII vehicles, and shooting on location in Dunkirk, France contribute to a great sense of scale here. There is ongoing trend of action films in recent years of relying on CGI, and thankfully Nolan bucks that trend.

Similar to War for the Planet of the Apes, much of the film plays out without much dialogue, leaning on just the score and sound design in most scenes. It almost goes without saying that Hans Zimmer delivers with another incredible score. The sound design is also extremely well crafted, which, paired with Nolan's great work behind the camera, truly transports you to the Battle of Dunkirk. The wailing of planes passing above, the drone of gunfire, and the roar of explosions all contribute to the complete immersion into the world these characters are trapped in. This results in some of the most immersive wartime action scenes since Saving Private Ryan.

This film has and will continue to be compared to World War II classic Saving Private Ryan. Both films are beautifully filmed WWII period pieces with casts that deliver great performances. The similarities end there. Whereas Saving Private Ryan was engrossing as a narrative due to it's characters with depth and arcs, Dunkirk instead leans on it's subject matter and spectacle.

And while the subject matter of Dunkirk is fascinating, as a film it lacks emotional firepower due to the absence of a strongly written protagonist. This is strangely uncharacteristic of a director of Nolan's caliber, especially when you recall the complex character work in his most acclaimed films: The Dark Knight, Memento, and The Prestige. Instead of focusing on a single character or single group of characters, the focus is spread across three protagonists in completely different situations. Showing the Dunkirk Evacuation through the three different perspectives of those on the beach, the sea, and the air is only an interesting proposition on paper. The narrative, due to this writing choice, is spread far too thin, with few characters getting enough screen time to develop even the mildest emotional connection.

While the characters in this film aren't written to even remotely be compelling, the great work from this cast is not to be overlooked. Harry Styles, known for being a member of English boy band One Direction, is surprisingly excellent here in his acting debut. Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh, and Fionn Whitehead also all give standout performances despite the limited screen time they are given.

I should love this film. Historical drama? WWII setting? My favorite director Christopher Nolan? Amazing cinematography? Superb performances from an ensemble cast? All of these elements made me sure I would love this going in. But, Dunkirk's lack of emotional connection severely detracts from the awe-inspiring scope and technical prowess displayed.

If I reviewed based on visuals alone, this is a slam-dunk, walk-off home run of a 5-star film. While a focus on grandeur and situation over character depth and emotion may work for some (it obviously worked for 98% of critics on Rotten Tomatoes), it did not work for this critic.

This is without a doubt a cinematic achievement, but without an emotional core, it's impossible for this film not to feel cold and empty. Despite being a technical masterpiece, this is Christopher Nolan's most disappointing film yet.

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581 out of 839 people found the following review useful:

A short review with a longer explanation of why its OK that this movie didn't have any "characters"

Author: Nimai Kolega from Croatia
22 July 2017

Dunkirk is, in my opinion, yet another masterpiece from mastermind Christopher Nolan. Since everything that is brilliant about the film has already been said I will briefly write what I think of the film and also touch on a topic that some people are criticizing the movie for.

The fantastically directed film is told from 3 perspectives non chronologically. It superbly tackles the narrative and the non linear story doesn't at all pull you away from the intensity of the events happening on screen that don't stop from 00:00 to the last scene. Hans Zimmer most likely gives one of the most fitting scores for a war film ever. Sometimes there is only one note playing followed by heartbeat sounds and a ticking clock while other times a massive orchestra is interpreting what is going on on screen. The movie brilliantly projects the feeling of each and every soldier on the beach to the audience. Confusion, turmoil and fear. The cinematography was breathtaking and I felt anxious throughout most of the run time. There is no lead in this film and I can't really say anyone stuck out as giving a brilliant performance because it wasn't needed and I'll explain why.

The biggest criticisms of Dunkirk that I've heard of so far are that the characters are lacking in depth and that we aren't given anything to be invested in them. I feel like Nolan was trying (successfully) to make the audience care for each and every one of the men on the beach. He needed to have some form of "main characters" to be in the story so that we can see the events unfold from the direct perspective of all of the soldiers. Usually in war films (I'll use saving private Ryan as an example) the plot revolves around certain soldiers (like Cpt. Miller and Ryan) being in a war and doing things in the war but its still about THEM not THE WAR as much. In my opinion Dunkirk is a telling the STORY OF DUNKIRK. Not of Harry Style's character or Tom Hardy's character but of Dunkirk. What any of the "main characters" felt, every other soldier felt. Nolan resorted more to film-making techniques to tell the story rather than dialogue and that is why some people might have had a problem with the lack of character depth but realistically this type of terrible event wouldn't be a place for someone to "develop" as a character but rather a event where MEN WANTED ONLY SURVIVAL, and Nolan showed that perfectly. As for what the top review of Dunkirk on IMDb says about 'lack of emotion' in the film, I believe this to be a completely incorrect statement. Maybe he was referring to the lack of 'brotherhood amongst men' or the feeling of moral or something epic like that. Again the longing for the 'Saving Private Ryan' format of war films. What the reviewer fails to see is that realistically there was NO emotion on that beach besides fear and confusion. And I can safely say that Nolan and Zimmer and the DP all successfully gave us those feelings.


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576 out of 922 people found the following review useful:

Put Down the Kool-Aid

Author: jsk32870 from United States
21 July 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Given the outright gushing of critics in praising this film, I was quite surprised to discover Dunkirk to be not only not deserving of such praise, but even worse, to be a cacophony of minimalist nonsense, topped off by one of the most ridiculous film climaxes in recent memory (more on that later). "Possibly the best war film of all time?" Not quite, I could name dozens better. In fact I struggle to think of many that are worse than this. My goodness, where to begin...

First I do not understand where the $150 million budget was spent. The actual story of the Dunkirk evacuation involved - literally - hundreds of thousands of men, and hundreds of boats and planes. In this film, we see....a few hundred men? 30 boats? Something like six planes? Where is the grand scale that a story like Dunkirk deserves, or really, demands? There was no grand scale. That is a heinous omission and oversight and ultimately fails to tell the story of Dunkirk as it should be told. And if you don't want to use CGI to achieve that scale, that's fine, but then either expand the real numbers of extras and props so it replicates what Dunkirk was actually like, or, don't do the film. A few soldiers standing around on the beach looks incredibly silly when the characters say on more than one occasion that there are over 300,000 men there. Where are they? We never saw them. Ludicrous.

Similarly, we see a few boats here and there, and a few planes. This does not come close to approximating the flotilla of ships, boats and other watercraft used - in reality over 800. It's hard to appreciate what a tremendous achievement the Dunkirk evacuation was - ultimately, the aim of this film I suspect - when we never actually see that achievement occur. We see a few boats and few planes. Literally a drop in the bucket of what Dunkirk was. Yet at the conclusion, as the men are disembarking, back safe in England, we are supposed to be swept up in a swelling feeling of appreciation for something that we never actually witness. Very bizarre.

The soundtrack, if you can call it that, was an escalating collection of random and intrusive blaring instruments that can be best described as 'noise.' I have no idea what the goal was there. Perhaps it was an attempt to convey what one might feel, the intense experience one might have, if he or she was in a war-time situation like this. Perhaps. A professional critic called it 'bombastic' and that's probably being generous. I am not lying when I tell you I had to take an Advil when I got back from the theater, thanks to the crazily escalating noise that overwhelms the latter part of the film. Yikes.

As for the climax, the scene of a Spitfire seemingly free of the laws of physics and gravity is bereft of all logic, and was such an eye-rolling piece of nonsense, no amount of criticism on my part can do it justice. Let's just say planes cannot keep flying indefinitely, much less maneuver and successfully engage other aircraft, when that plane has run out of fuel. The film deserves to be panned for this ridiculous scene alone.

This is not a great war film, it's not even a good war film. It is not typical or traditional story-telling, I will give it that. There are stretches of this film that lack dialogue and there is zero character development. While different, that's hardly unique (it's been done before). Perhaps some critics haven't understood that 'different' does not automatically translate to 'good' or 'great' - sometimes, it does not.

Put down the Kool-Aid. As my brother said to me when we walked out of the theater last night, "Assuming I would like this, I thought I would go see this again over the weekend. Not only am I not doing that now, I won't even bother watching this once it's on cable or Netflix." True that, bro. 5/10.

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464 out of 751 people found the following review useful:

In 2017, over 330.000 film viewers were stuck in a cinema, surrounded by boredom, can they be rescued?

Author: Martin010 from Netherlands
21 July 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

It's hard to understand critic ratings of 10/10 while this movie undeniably lacks quality on some very important aspects. Let me start off with some positive notes:

- IMAX: The impact of the bullets and bombs felt as if you were really there. The entire movie is shot in a very realistic way.

- Opening scene: The suspense, music and cinematography all came together very well in the opening scene, which really made me excited for the scenes to come.

- Acting: Poor acting can easily distract the audience from their experience of being in a certain time/place. But there was not a single moment in which an actor did something out of character. All expressions were very believable. Great acting!

But there were some major aspects I had issues with:

- Characters: The characters did not have any background story and there's hardly any dialogue to give some insight. The main characters are therefore replaceable for any other random soldier on that beach. I do not expect an elaborate introduction of every character, certainly not in a historical war movie, but the downside is that the audience cannot empathize with the main characters. I really didn't care for one of them to die. I've seen hundreds of soldiers die in earlier scenes of the movie, why would one or two more (just as hollow and unknown as any other soldier) bother me a bit? It's no must to focus on character development, as long as the other aspects of the movie make up for the lack of it. In Dunkirk that sadly was not the case.

- Editing: Sometimes it was hard to follow which moment in time is shown, because the movie abruptly cuts between three perspectives, therefore even showing some events twice. I find this non-linear storytelling and continuity breaks unnecessary and poorly executed.

- Repetitive: Much scenes are identical or slightly different from another. Especially the flight scenes did not add much to the story. Instead I rather would've seen some scenes at the front-line with troops actually defending the beach instead of just a bunch of scared, helpless troops waiting for the next plane to fly over and bomb the shite out of them. Keeping out the Germans at the front-line is just as much a part of the story of Dunkirk and it would've given us a chance to actually see the enemy and get some awesome battle scenes.

- Music: Usually I enjoy Zimmer's score. But in this movie there was no moment of silence, not a moment to break the suspense. Especially in IMAX, my ears were buzzing hours after I left the cinema. Was this intentional? Was it supposed to feel like one big action scene without any breaks, to get the same feeling of those soldiers, trapped between battles unable to take a break, constantly in stress of a nearing attack? Well, than Nolan did succeed. But I found it very annoying.

Overall I believe this movie is highly overrated, due to many biased Nolan fans and critics blindly hopping on the hype-train. I found it a very boring movie. The lack of an interesting plot or any interesting characters sadly wasn't compensated enough by the impressive audiovisuals. Rescue yourself from boredom and don't watch this movie!

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354 out of 562 people found the following review useful:

A visual wonder that lacks depth

Author: Pedro Fernandes from United Kingdom
20 July 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Christopher Nolan is a visual genius: this film is just stunning to look at. From the bullets flying near soldier's head to gorgeous explosions, it transports you right into the war zone within the first 10 minutes of the screening. Furthermore, it is an accurate description of the "Miracle of Dunkirk". This is where the movie nails it. However, apart from that, I've had a couple of issues with it.

The film is told from three perspectives: Air, Mole and Sea. This is where the movie falls a bit short. The editing at some points feels lazy and not very consistent: it cuts from a dramatic scene or intense action scene very quickly.

The film is told in a non-linear way: this makes us watch certain scenes twice through different perspectives. Although this could've been done in a very interesting way, it's very difficult to keep track of whose perspective we're watching at times. Even when certain semi-important (I'll get back to this later) soldiers die, it took me a while to realise this happened.

This is where my third and final problem come into question: the characters lack depth. You don't care about the main character, nor any of the other soldiers that are dying. If I'm watching a film about war, I like to bond with the characters I'm seeing on screen. If none of them show any real emotion, the viewer won't as well.

All in all, Dunkirk could've been amazing. I personally don't understand why it has such a high rating besides being directed by a very well-known director / starring famous actors (including infamous Harry Styles) / being a war biography. Disappointing.

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352 out of 575 people found the following review useful:

A Masterpiece (of Emotionless Boredom And Nolan Trickery)

Author: Cinnyaste from United States
21 July 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Crow the critics are about Nolan's latest, "Dunkirk." A stunning masterpiece say many. Masterpiece my ass.

Snookered by the hype and war film fandom, ducats were placed on counter, a ticket for admission passed back. Lights dimmed, anticipation mounted, and... nothing. Nothing. Save lurching between disparate, battle set pieces featuring people for whom little or no empathy exists. Lacking investment in the characters, what remains are merely adequate, bloodless war scenes easily outgunned by the recent "Fury" and, farther back, "Saving Private Ryan." For example, a young boy is killed but we know nothing of him, nothing of his motivation for climbing aboard a civilian, Dunkirk-bound boat at the last minute. We feel nothing for him because he's simply a cardboard cutout.

As the actors barely register emotion, boredom set in and not to be shaken off. The characters move as wind-up toys. There are few actors who bare their soul like Cillian Murphy, here a shell-shocked survivor. As directed, he sleepwalks with the depth of an amateur in a high school production. He's not alone. All the actors turn in measured performances with identical blank looks and monotone deliveries. Particularly wasted is the actor's actor, Kenneth Branagh.

Certainly the bravery and sacrifice of civilian and military in the Dunkirk evacuation is celebrated in "Dunkirk." Thank you. However, this historical action occurred in 1940. Films echo the zeitgeist of the time in which they're produced. It's an odd choice to make a large (bad) film about an evacuation three-quarters of a century past. There's a stink of political agenda afoot in "Dunkirk" that's intolerable. The enemy, unseen in "Dunkirk," lurks and kills from safety by air and ground. Surrounded with backs to the the Atlantic, the very survival of a way of life is in question, as portrayed in "Dunkirk." (Spoiler Alert: The Allies Won The War.) The enemy's attacks are isolated like terrorism. The result is "Dunkirk" weaves a cautionary allegory mirroring religious extremism bent on destroying all non-believers.

Subtle propaganda is dangerous. "Dunkirk" fits that bill. Either that or Nolan is a complete idiot who hasn't a whit of sense. It's a toss-up based on a filmography including the lackluster borefest "Interstellar," and the beyond inane "Inception."

Nolan remains static in his career with "Dunkirk." His films are half-baked, underwritten, detached, and emotion-free. "Dunkirk" plays like a rough cut by a bad director who expects the viewer to emotionally fill-in-the-blanks. "Dunkirk" even lacks the courage of its convictions in being bloodless - there are no graphic deaths. At least Spielberg had the courage to rub the viewer's nose in the stench of death in "Saving Private Ryan." The first half hour of that film is unprecedented in the depiction of carnage (one can almost taste the grit of raining sand from nearby mortar strikes). Nolan sanitizes-for-your-own-protection. Yet he chose a violent topic and punked out; a war movie detached from death is not a film about war. By design, war cannot include gratuitous violence, just insanity - an element also lacking in "Dunkirk."

The wall-to-wall dramatic, but mixed low, score loses its effectiveness and becomes annoying. And, the constant, ham-handed crosscutting between stories further waters this already thin soup by stopping a scene's dramatic momentum.

A short scene in "Mrs. Miniver" (1942) featuring civilian Walter Pidgeon returning from Dunkirk in his shot up runabout says more in the visuals and a few lines of dialogue about the evacuation than the entirety of "Dunkirk." As Trump might Tweet, "Sad!"

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413 out of 697 people found the following review useful:

Its official. Movies are no longer about telling a story.

Author: jaymcr from Manchester
22 July 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I am sure that the critics that write the reviews are paid shills because anyone who considers that movie to be a masterpiece has either never seen a war movie or is just taking money to lie to the public.

Dunkirk was more spectacular than 7 or so boats, 3 planes and less than 300 men in a line on a beach.

And whose idea was it to pay Tom Hardy a ridiculous sum of the budget to once again hide his face and never actually do what he is paid to do which last I checked was acting? It's obvious he was used in this movie to give it some credibility just like they did with the Mad Max debacle where he spent 3 quarters of the movie with a face covering on preventing him from speaking.

The noise was awful and apparently some of that noise was considered to be music! Dull bass throbbing in every scene.

Story? Lets not even go there. I can sum up the Story in one paragraph although you cannot really consider it a spoiler because there's nothing in this to spoil.

"Trapped on a beach awaiting rescue but the ships keep getting destroyed by dive bombers with only 3 planes to protect those ships. Ends with Hardy finally revealing his face when he is captured after landing his plane which has run out of fuel."

That's it. Everything else in between is just noise.

To the people who consider themselves to be critics I say this: If you want the movie industry to become like the gaming industry where the main goal is most profit in shortest time regardless of the content then keep spouting the BS otherwise you need to start telling the truth for once.

Two hours of noise and it cost them $100 million to make? It's obvious where that money went because these so called movie creators couldn't even be bothered to use CGI to expand the number of men, ships and planes to really set the scene.

There was nothing in this movie and Tom Hardy was thick or corrupt enough to be used as the marketing tool.

Don't waste your money.

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225 out of 347 people found the following review useful:

One of the most dishonestly over-rated films of all time. 1 of 10.

Author: Geff from United States
28 July 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Yes, awful. How can anyone honestly give this film a positive recommendation? It is so amateurish. Whoever wrote the screenplay forgot the story. What story is it! It's not about Dunkirk, the famous WWII evacuation of British troops from France. What about the French troops? The British commander says to hell with them. Two cowards are the focus of the story. They will do anything to get out ahead of everyone else who are patiently waiting, keeping order, and waiting their turn. One other is picked up by a civilian boat on its way to rescue troops at Dunkirk, and he fights the crew to not go back. He kills one of them. Great story? I figure they used 5 planes to make the entire film: three RAF fighters, one German fighter, and one German bomber, all classic planes. Why I say this is b/c they only show three RAF fighters in one scene, and then it's always a one-on-one with all the other scenes. The special effects are from the 1950's. I think they did a better job in Wings, 1927. Also, it's hard to figure out what they are saying. I missed half the dialogue, but I didn't miss much b/c it's so worthless a film. It's aimless, boring, pathetic, and cheap. There is nothing epic about this film. It's a sad joke. What a waste of my money. It's one of the most over-rated films of all time.

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352 out of 618 people found the following review useful:

Micro as opposed to macro version of the battle

Author: somf from United States
17 July 2017

Saw an early screening tonight in Denver.

I don't know where to begin. So I will start at the weakest link. The acting. Still great, but any passable actor could have been given any of the major roles and done a great job. I know almost no more about the battle of Dunkirk after seeing the film than I did before, and I am not exactly a WWII historian. Truth be told, I learned all I know about the battle of Dunkirk from the movie poster. Does that weaken the film? Hell no, this is a film about survival. The opening scene tells it all and sets the stage as we get our first glimpse into a young soldier's need to stay alive, and his creative attempts to do so. That actor may even be considered the main character of the film. More words have been written so far in this review than he speaks. And I have no clue who the actor in that role is. It is humorous that Tom Hardy looks like Bane through most the film in the role of a pilot wearing an oxygen mask throughout. Kenneth Branagh is the only officer with any lines in the film, so that should give you an idea of the POV that we experience. We are the enlisted man trying to find a way to stay alive in a chaotic and harrowing battle. Though I believe Dunkirk will win every single technical Oscar, I would be surprised if it has any acting nominations at all.

How does Nolan elevate this above other films of a similar nature? I think he says it best himself, when he describes Dunkirk as a thriller more than a war film. He pulls that off superbly.

When a ship starts to take in water as numerous bullets penetrate its hull, I wanted to jump out of my seat and cover up the holes myself.

The film has three separate stories that are titled Mole, Sea and Air. And we all know where Moles live. The way the narratives of the three stories unfold and how they are all tied together is what makes the film a masterpiece. Much has been said about Nolan using IMAX film cameras and how the film is enriched by this. I don't know. I doubt I saw actual film being projected at my screening. Every frame looked terrific though.

So what is the most superlative aspect of the film? Gotta be the soundtrack. Hans Zimmer will win the Oscar for this without a doubt. So , so brilliant. This is not a soundtrack that I would buy at the store and play on my stereo. This is a soundtrack that weaves throughout the three narratives seamlessly and creates this phenomenal sense of tension. There are times when a two or three minute tense orchestral passage plays continuously as the story shifts from the ground to the sea then to the air and the music draws the three stories together. Zimmer's soundtrack reminds me of the way that Bernard Hermann's work was so vitally important in building suspense in most Hitchcock films. Though that description almost sells Zimmer short. His soundtrack is that good.

I don't think this is a film that will retain even half of its strength in your home theater. No folks, this is a film that you cough up for an overpriced IMAX ticket and rationalize it by knowing that experiencing Dunkirk in any other fashion will just not cut it.

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129 out of 185 people found the following review useful:

Does not live up to the critics reviews

Author: martyn_pearce from Bristol
28 July 2017

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

I have never bothered to post a review before for any film. But I feel that I must to point out the nonsense of film reviewers these days. I see the critics post as must see, film of the year, et, etc. This was billed as a film with fantastic sound. I found the continuous droning noise whose pitch increased during the film to what I hoped would be a fantastic climax, but I the drone included what sounded like whale noises and more boring droning noises with occasional sounds of gun fire. I was bored after 15 minutes, the ridiculous story of the kid in the fishing boat, the original bit about the spitfire pilots and the nonsense of the soldiers taking cover in the boat.....absolute shallow lazy boring rubbish filming. If they added a decent music score it may have kept me interested. This film does not show it as it was its just absolute cap and does not come across as a powerful film at all. A waste of money.

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