Weekly Movie Review: Dunkirk

Dunkirk; Visually stunning, masterfully directed flick

The entire month of August is normally an extremely weak time for film. Most of the summer’s blockbusters have usually come out by this time, and because of the generally warm weather, people opt for more outdoor activities. Sitting in a dark theater, when one could be outside enjoying the weather, doesn’t appeal to most. And in typical August fashion, this past weekend’s slate of new releases was noticeably weak, so I opted to go back and check out one that I missed the first time around.

Dunkirk is the story of British and French troops, during WWII, who are surrounded by German forces on the beaches of Dunkirk, France. With German soldiers all around them and the rough English Channel in front of them, the British and French soldiers are essentially trapped. To make matters worse, German planes constantly fly above and pick soldiers off from the air. Needless to say, the situation is rather bleak and hopeless.

Despite this extremely grim outlook and chances of surviving their current predicament slim to none, the soldiers press on, trying to find a way out and back home. To help lessen the number of casualties and increase their chances of survival, Allied planes fly overhead battling the German planes looking to kill the troops stuck on the beach below. 

As far as story is concerned and in contrast to most WWII films, Dunkirk is not an action packed, shoot-em up flick with a ridiculously high body count. Instead, Dunkirk is more focused on retelling the story of the horrible situation itself and what can happen even when things look completely and utterly hopeless. While not the most uplifting film in the world, visually Dunkirk is stunning. The film is beautifully shot, incorporating and showcasing masterful work, both in the composition of the scene and what we’re actually seeing on the screen itself.

Additionally, the sound mixing in the film is outstanding. The bullets striking shrapnel, planes flying overhead and everything in between have a freakishly authentic and real sound. However, the one major flaw in the film is that none of the characters are adequately developed, due to trying to fit so much in less than a two-hour time frame.

Dunkirk is the work of a director at the top of his game. Using a minimal amount of dialogue, the camera tells the visually stunning and bleak story. At this point, Dunkirk is the best film of the year. 4.5 out of 5.