February 7, 2018

Dunkirk (2017)

*string of shrug emojis*

I don't know the official numbers but my guess would be that WWII would be one of the most covered subjects in the history of film. It's understandable. Everyone learns about it in school, it has easily defined "good guys" and "bad guys," and oh yeah, we get to be the good guys.

The problem is, in such a crowded field of memorable WWII movies, it's difficult to stand out. What story hasn't been told by now? Enter: the battle of Dunkirk. It's an amazing true story, about an insane attempted rescue of soldiers stranded on the coast of France and surrounded by German soldiers. But if I learned anything from last year's Hacksaw Ridge, it's that a good story in real life doesn't not necessarily make for a good 2 hour movie.

For one thing, I couldn't tell anyone apart in this movie. Seriously. That's always a risk when you have a bunch of actors who aren't super prominent, but when they're all dressed in the same uniform, barely speaking, and covered in dirt and oil? If the camera hadn't zoomed in with intensity every couple minutes, I would have literally no idea what happened to individual characters.

Then there's the matter of Tom Hardy. It's not that I have a positive or negative view of him, but there was no point of casting him in the movie other than listing his name on the movie poster. He wears a pilot mask the entire time and you can barely even make out his voice, let alone words through the thing. The part could have been played by a mannequin and a voice over and I wouldn't have been able to tell the difference. It just seemed like a colossal waste of his time.

But even setting aside the casting issues, this movie is just dull. I can get behind a silent movie. I even liked The Artist. But this movie felt like it was trying to be much deeper and more meaningful than it was by going the limited-dialogue-route. It's just a bunch of events strung together by a bunch of guys that look the same. The only thing that makes it dramatic is the score. And I guess knowing it's a war movie so you know, bombs and stuff? Of course terrible things happen during war (because again, WAR), but it started to feel like Gravity all over again where it's like, how many terrible things can happen to one person in the span of a few hours? But at least this didn't have Sandra Bullock's panicked voice. Or really any voice, for that matter.

I don't want to say the movie was terrible because I made it all the way through without rolling my eyes, so that's something I guess. But it was such a pedestrian take on a story, dressed up as something deeper and more artsy, that the whole thing left me sort of annoyed. At the end of the movie I found myself saying aloud, "That's it?" And that's a perfect summary for it.

Final word: If more people read history books movies like this wouldn't have to be made and I wouldn't have to sit through them.

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