Dunkirk Spoiler Review

(In our Spoiler Reviews, we take a deep dive into a new release and get to the heart of what makes it tick…and every story point is up for discussion. In this entry: Christopher Nolan’s Dunkirk.)

In Christopher Nolan movies, the clock is always ticking.

Time is a precious commodity, and it’s also a luxury that the characters who inhabit Nolan films do not have. With his tenth film, Dunkirk, Nolan applies his favored ticking clock narrative to its fullest, crafting arguably his best film, or at least the film that most exemplifies his considerable talents. It’s also in a way a rebuff of the criticisms that have dogged many of his films up until this point – if you thought some of Nolan’s films before Dunkirk were too exposition-heavy, here is a film with almost no exposition to speak of. If you believed his previous movies lacked emotion or feeling, witness this: a film that is relentlessly tense and harrowing, concluding with a moment of perfectly rendered emotional triumph. It seems hyperbolic to throw the “masterpiece” designation around so soon after a film is released, but if Nolan’s Dunkirk isn’t officially a masterpiece yet, time may eventually fully reward it that distinction. The clock is ticking.

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Dunkirk score

The sheer amount of space in Dunkirk is overwhelming. There are three vast swaths of it: air, land, and sea, rendered in stark whites and blacks, and blues in-between. Men and boats alike come across as matchstick figures, just as dominated by negative space as any J.M.W. Turner painting. Warmer colors come in the form of the soldiers and civilians whose fight to stay alive forms the backbone of the film’s narrative, and as the tick-tick-tick of Hans Zimmer’s score kicks in and the three main storylines intercut, it becomes apparent that we’re not just looking at empty space; we’re seeing triple forces, slowly threatening to crush the men stranded at Dunkirk.

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Dunkirk

(Welcome to Movie Mixtape, where we find cinematic relatives and seek out interesting connections between new releases and older movies that allow us to rethink and enjoy what’s in our theaters as well as the favorites on our shelf. In this edition: Dunkirk.)

In the early summer of 1940, a group of Allied soldiers had to be evacuated from their position on the beach of Dunkirk, France, after being surrounded by Nazi troops in the first weeks of the Fall of France. The events necessitating their rescue, according to Prime Minister Winston Churchill, were a “colossal military disaster,” and the resulting mission (Operation Dynamo) is now know rightly as the Miracle of Dunkirk.

Unless you’ve had your head in the sand, you know that’s the subject of Christopher Nolan’s latest film, which has near-universal praise from critics. Some are pointing to the bleachers to predict an Oscar. Others are calling it his best film in a career littered with greatness.

Let’s see what kinds of movie connections we can make to Dunkirk as it dominates screens (big and bigger) this weekend.

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dunkirk review round up

Dunkirk seemed like a strange choice for Christopher Nolan‘s next feature, since he’s a director known for his abstract sci-fi features and clever plot twists. Box office predictors and audiences didn’t know what to make of the war epic about a relatively obscure (to American audiences) World War II evacuation, with some estimating that it would be his lowest-grossing movie in years.

But if the reviews are anything to go by, Dunkirk may be Nolan’s most stunning achievement yet. Dunkirk is being met by some of the most enthusiastic praise of Nolan’s career — and indeed, many critics are calling it the filmmaker’s best movie so far.

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the darkest hour

Gary Oldman has never been the kind of actor to go hunting for an Oscar, but Darkest Hour feels like the kind of movie that could thrust the always-brilliant actor into the awards spotlight in a big way. Vanishing under a pile of prosthetics to play Winston Churchill, the Prime Minister of Great Britain who led his nation into and through World War II, Oldman seems to be attempting a role unlike anything he has tried before.

We get our first taste of his performance in the first Darkest Hour trailer, which has just arrived.

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Cool Posts From Around the Web:

Dunkirk IMAX Featurette - Christopher Nolan

Next week brings Christopher Nolan‘s latest film to theaters in the form of Dunkirk, and you have a wide variety of formats in which you’ll be able to see it. But easily the best way to see the movie will be on the largest IMAX screen possible, because the director shot the film with IMAX large format film cameras, creating a massive, rich image that Nolan describes as something akin to virtual reality without the goggles. If that’s not enough to sell you on the movie, watch the Dunkirk IMAX featurette below for more convincing. Read More »

dunkirk reviews

The press junket for Christopher Nolan‘s new film Dunkirk happened over the weekend, and the social media reactions have begun to be revealed on Twitter. What did the first critics to see Nolan’s war movie think? Hit the jump to read the first Dunkirk reviews/reactions.

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Why ‘Dunkirk’ is Under Two Hours

Dunkirk Run Time

Once, movie run times that stretched more than two hours were only reserved for Biblical epics or adaptations of Russian novels — and occasionally, a musical starring Julie Andrews. But those were anomalies, and even featured short intermissions for audiences to take a break at the theater or change the VHS tape. But nowadays, blockbuster run times are becoming so bloated that audiences barely blink an eye when a Transformers movie is over three hours long.

Some of the blame can be laid on Christopher Nolan, whose epic Dark Knight films were on the vanguard of increasingly dense superhero and action films. For Nolan’s films, they made sense — his intellectual blockbusters required plenty of information and plot twists. But now Nolan returns to the movie scene packed with franchise films that have an average run time of more than two hours with one of his shortest films yet.

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Dunkirk score

Christopher Nolan‘s highly-anticipated Dunkirk apparently isn’t a war movie, but it shares at least one thing in common with Matt Reeves‘ War For the Planet of the Apes: they both have songs from their soundtracks available to listen to right now.
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dunkirk box office tracking

Box office tracking for Christopher Nolan‘s World War II movie Dunkirk suggests an opening weekend in the $30 to $40 million range. This would make it Nolan’s lowest opening for a wide release since 2006.

It is important to note however, that these are early estimates, with the film not slated to open in theaters for another two weeks, so numbers are bound to change up until its release.

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