Dunkirk: critics go wild for Christopher Nolan's WWII drama
Christopher Nolan's latest movie is earning rave reviews, with some calling it the year's first "slam-dunk" to receive Oscar nominations.
Set during the eponymous World War II battle in France, Dunkirk focuses on the events from three perspectives – land, sea and air. Starring Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, as well as pop star Harry Styles and newcome Fionn Whitehead, The Dark Knight trilogy director's tale also features more than 6000 extras.
Now the high-anticipation surrounding its release globally later this week (it opens in New Zealand on Thursday) has been ramped up by the overwhelmingly positive reception it has received from movie reviewers. Based on 20 opinions so far, it currently has a rating of 96 per cent on reviews aggregate site Metacritic – much higher than any other films currently on release (the next highest – Baby Driver and The Big Sick have 86 and 87 per cent rating respectively).
Writing for Entertainment Weekly, Chris Nashawaty described the film as "hands down, the best motion picture of the year". "This is visceral, big-budget filmmaking that can be called Art." It's a view shared by The Hollywood Reporter's Todd McCarthy. "Dunkirk is an impressionist masterpiece. These are not the first words you expect to see applied to a giant-budgeted entertainment made by one of the industry's most dependably commercial big-name directors. But this is a war film like few others, one that may employ a large and expensive canvas but that conveys the whole through isolated, brilliantly realized, often private moments more than via sheer spectacle, although that is here too."
Across the Atlantic, British reviewers were equally effusive. Calling the movie "astonishing", The Telegraph's Robbie Collin thought it was "a work of heart-hammering intensity and grandeur that demands to be seen on the best and biggest screen within reach. But its spectacle doesn't stop at the recreations of Second World War combat. Like all great war films, it's every bit as transfixing up close".
Veteran The Guardian reviewer Peter Bradshaw believed it was Nolan's best film so far. "This is a powerful, superbly crafted film with a story to tell, avoiding war porn in favour of something desolate and apocalyptic, a beachscape of shame, littered with soldiers zombified with defeat, a grimly male world with hardly any women on screen."
Meanwhile, Empire magazine's Nick de Semlyen compared it to the grand-daddy of movie blockbusters, a film released 41 years ago.
"A spare, propulsive, ever-intensifying combat thriller, Nolan's history lesson is both a rousing celebration of solidarity and the tensest beach-set film since Jaws."