Psst…Don’t Believe The Hype – Dunkirk Is Just Alright

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I feel like I need to take cover in a similar fashion as the soldiers represented in this movie to avoid the backlash of an internet almost unanimously in favor of the latest Nolan offering, Dunkirk.

Let me preface this all by saying, when the first Dunkirk teaser dropped I nearly pissed myself I was so excited.

The trailer’s eerie sounds of a ticking clock that subside in time for an endless view of soldiers as they recognize the sounds of fighter jets overhead before ducking and then “DUNKIRK” emerges.

Boy, oh boy, I was so hyped for this, so hyped in fact I rushed out Friday night and disrupted my old person bedtime in order to catch a 9:36 PM showing in Battery Park.

As my excitement grew, I saw reviews using words like “triumph,” “masterpiece,” “a work of art” and  a 92% Rotten Tomatoes score that I continued to eat up that hype, every last bite.

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Just shoveling all the hyperbole, praise, and positivity into my mouth to the point where when I saw K. Austin Collin’s review and the fact he’d refer to this awaited epic as “convoluted” I was actually peeved a little before I even considered giving it a click.

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And when I did read it, I quickly realized it was a written transcription of my thoughts on the movie as a whole, albeit a much more graceful and thoughtful one.

Don’t get me wrong, Nolan delivers a beautiful movie, as he nearly always does, paired with tremendous acting performances from a cast of established players and unfamiliar faces alike. But, the story was, to reiterate Collins’ critique, convoluted.

In the typical Nolan fashion that we have become accustomed to (think Dark Night, Inception, Interstellar), this story couldn’t be delivered in a straight forward fashion. It contained three stories that intertwined at various points and to varying degrees, each with a different mode of primary transportation (air, sea, and land) and often told on three separate timelines. And each setting and each timeline had tremendous moments, but when all was said and done it felt a bit disconnected and failed to add up to the intended result.

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The movie kept you on your toes, never sure when the next enemy attack would strike. And sound was legitimately jarring when shots were fired or when planes flew overhead, but the pay off never came. With a relatively limited run time (in today’s standards) of 1 hour and 46 minutes, Dunkirk lacked the real estate required to get me invested in three stories.

 

If the movie told the story suggested by this poster it would have been wildly more successful in my opinion. With all the high stakes moments that were thrown at us from three different directions, it was difficult to understand which ones were supposed to grip us the most, so they were all left with a limp hold.

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The name’s of Nolan and the actors he assembled along with how breathtaking the visuals are and how successful some of the parts are will be enough to consider this movie a success and it will be lauded as such. But here and there voices who will simply call it how they see it will exist: Dunkirk was just alright.



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