Dunkirk – The Dope Sheet Movie Review

Release Date:  July 21, 2017
Rating:  PG-13
Run Time:  1 hour 46 min
After Credit Scene:  NO
IMAX Viewing:  YES
3D Viewing:  NO
Reviewer:  Wayne Demers
The Dope Sheet Score:  9.5 out of 10

A Non-Spoiler Review

What you need to know about Dunkirk:  It is World War II.  Belgian, British and French troops have been pushed back to the North Sea at the French seaport of Dunkirk.  Their only escape is to await evacuating ships to rescue them across the English Channel.

What a movie!  Dunkirk isn’t your ordinary WWII film and it isn’t told as such.  The story is told from three perspectives; land, sea, and air.  Although the story follows roughly seven characters, we know little about them, we have little background and in some cases, we don’t know their name.  What we do know is that they are in a bad situation with little hope.  I don’t believe you ever see an enemy face, but you know they are there.  I can’t recall a WWII movie where you didn’t see one enemy person.

From the land perspective, troops want off the beach and on the ships/boats to be brought to the UK.  From a sea perspective, we want ships/boats to reach those troops so they can be evacuated.  From the air, how can we defend the ships/boats and our troops on the beaches.  The story is riveting and I find it unique that it is the events themselves that drive the story and not so much the characters.  There is no need to show the faces of the enemy because their presence is felt throughout the film and it builds suspense and anticipation.

What works:  Excellent casting and acting.  A WWII movie based on true events captures you and keeps you wondering what will happen next.  In IMAX, this movie was outstanding as you feel as if you are there and the emotions of those in the movie transcend the screen and pop right into your chest.  This is done by a well written story that focuses on the events, a score that builds anticipation, and sound effects that plant you in the middle of the action.  Lack of digital special effects and use of practical effects allows the viewer to remain in the story and not distracted by the any short coming of distracting digital effects.  I’m certain there are many digital effects, but they are used in all the right places and in the right ways that allow you to believe you are there.  Actors Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance, Jack Lowden, Barry Keoghan, and Fionn Whitehead were outstanding!

What doesn’t work:  There are two issues I had with this film.  First, there is not a single leading or supporting female role in the film.  Although it didn’t stand out to me while watching the film I can only attribute it that during WWII, women were not on the front lines or on ships.  It isn’t that there aren’t any women in the film, they just appear as minor extras.  Secondly, the way the story is told you move between the three perspectives of the film.  There is a flashback or two and you are left wondering if it is a flashback or just a change of perspective.  It is confusing at first, but the story reveals itself in short time.

With the summer movie releases going into its final month, this is a strong contender for best film of the summer.  An outstanding story written and directed by Christopher Nolan.  Look for his name to appear for an Oscar nomination for best director.  The acting and cinematography were amazing.  The score was very much a character in this film, the intensity and build-up of anticipation are greatly influenced by the score.  This is as well an emotionally rounded a film as one can get.

On a scale of 1 to 10, 10 being the highest, I give Dunkirk a 9.5.  It is worth seeing in IMAX and I strongly encourage viewers to seek out an IMAX show time.  Well worth the price of admission and a jumbo popcorn combo.

Did you see the film?  Tell us your opinion below.

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