Sunday, July 23, 2017

Dunkirk

Spoiler alert: this film is spoiled.

In case you were waiting for someone to tell you to go see this film, here you are:

Keep waiting.

I wanted to like this film. I'd been anticipating its release for days. And director Christopher Nolan probably wanted to deliver an epic masterwork for the ages. He couldn't pull off delivering even a decent flick. The cinematography was visually riveting, as are most train wrecks. In service of a film in search of a reason for existing at all. At two hours' running time, it's exactly one hour and fifty-seven minutes too long. Watch any of the trailers, then save yourself two hours of your life you'll never get back. There are no solid heroes to root for: the movie opens with two men conniving any dodge they can to get off the doomed beach. By turns, it displays how harrowing the experience was, but the most suffering is done by the audience, having to sit through long expositions of the horrors of war with no payoff for the journey. In Gravity, by ten minutes in, I was rooting for the debris to kill the entire cast; in this flick, you'll almost want to root for the Nazis to do the same thing.

Normally, an epic war movie would have a hero, or even multiple heroes; a villain; some suspense and plot twists; and hopefully, some sort of triumphant conclusion. You'd think a movie about Nazis pounding the French army and sending the British Expeditionary Force fleeing for their lives as they ransack western Europe wouldn't have any trouble coming up with a villain, but you don't see the face of so much as one single German in a movie about a defeat handed out by them. They're less visible than the shark in the first half of Jaws, except through the entire flick.

Any suspense is beaten out of every scene and shot by dragging the audience over the same ground over and over and over, which fills time in what could have been a 20 minute documentary, and makes any hope of suspense and payoff as forlorn as the hopes of the soldiers on Dunkirk beach in the spring of 1940. The conclusion is anything but triumphant, to the point that the writers of this piece of garbage should be lecturing at Lockheed on stealth technology, for how to hide a climax in a war movie so well that the audience can't find it. The most fitting scene is the pointless waste of one of the cinematic heroes, who inexplicably lands his intact plane in German territory, after passing up the chance to ditch in front of the true heroes of Dunkirk, the fleet of Small Boats, and hitch a ride back to England, and instead ends up captured as his Spitfire, like the movie itself, goes up in flames.

This movie owes a lot to other war movies: mainly to the baker's dozen of shitastic anti-war tripe vomited on American troops during the first dozen years of this century, for instance. It's as rousingly bad and malformed as Hurt Locker. It sucks the drama out of an epic tale better than Memphis Belle. It makes the would-be heroes of the movie less likeable than the cretins in Three Kings. It's what Zulu would have looked like if it had been directed by Robert Altman or Roman Polanski. It's what The Alamo would have been like if it had starred Billy Bob Thornton instead of John Wayne. It's what you get when you take a grade school play and try to film it like it's opera. It's Hamburger Helper hash masquerading as haute cuisine. And it makes the first half of M*A*S*H* and the second half of Full Metal Jacket seem coherent by contrast.

If it weren't for the talents of award-winning actors like Kenneth Branagh starring as the Exposition Fairy, and Mark Rylance (who managed to steal every single scene he was in with Tom Hanks in 2015's Bridge Of Spies to win the Supporting Actor Oscar) plugging away beginning to end, this thing wouldn't even be fit for the fin bin at WallyMart. Hans Zimmer's ominously atonal cacophonous score is annoying and aptly bad for such a horrendously confused, disjointed, and ultimately pointless film.

And all those clueless SJWs whinging and caterwauling about white male casting in a movie about...white males, should get down on their knees and thank a merciful heaven there aren't more women and minorities in this craptastic stinker: so women and minorities get off scot-free and blameless for not ruining an already ruined movie. Nobody's been so happy in Hollywood to miss appearing in something since Denholm Elliot died to get out of making IJ4: Indiana Jones and the Temple of What The Fuck.

The real villain of this piece is director Christopher Nolan (who should have gone with crediting it to Alan Smithee), having proved with the Dark Knight trilogy that he can make movies with a purpose, let alone style and meaning. Just not this one. The hero is the audience, for sitting through this awful bore. The comedy was any of them thinking it was going to be worth the trouble. And the triumphant conclusion is when the credits roll, announcing you, like those helpless hopeless Tommies in 1940, finally get off that horrid beach, and survive to hope for better days.

Warner Brother shelled out $150M to produce this p.o.s., which means they probably threw away another $150M to promote it. It "won" the box office this weekend, but the second and third weekends will crater when word of mouth kills it (or at least, ought to), so after they split the $50M weekend gross with theatres and distributors, they'll only have to recoup the other $275M they wasted in foreign tickets and DVD sales. BLUF: short Time Warner stock.

My rating: Drowned on the beach. Torpedoed. Burned alive. Half buried.
And still shining and stinking like a dead mackerel in the moonlight.

Wait for it to come out on free TV.
Then watch reruns of Robot Chicken and Doctor Who, or infomercials, instead.
And if anyone ever meets the @$$hole(s) who green-lighted this sorry pork chop, please, take them deep sea fishing: as bait.

dun: What one deposits in a dunny.
dunny: Australian slang for shitter.
kirk: church.

Dunkirk: Church of Shit. Making this the best film title in decades.

14 comments:

Nori said...

So,you did'nt like it,then?

Aesop said...

It has nothing to do with subjectively liking it; it was simply bad.
At the mega-million-dollar level, making a bad movie is beyond any excuse.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, I enjoyed your review!

Domo said...

Not seen, wont now, had concerns

How was a film on which the French surrender, the Brits run away and the Germans parade through the streets ever going to be good.

Theres a few stories you could tell about last stands that bought time fir the evacuation
But the evacuation itself is a bit of poor story.

Simon Maguire said...

So tell us what you truly of tis movie, no holding back.
Billy Bob Thornton was in the remake of The Alamo as David Crockett in 2004, it's not as bad as you would think it would be, it couldn't be.
There was a 1958 British war film directed by Leslie Norman and starring John Mills, Richard Attenborough and Bernard Lee called Dunkirk. It's well know in the UK but I don't think it's know in the US. It's not flash with little at times it's a bit slow, and IMHO one of the great war movies.

Aesop said...

1) I saw the Alamo remake: it was worse than I could describe. 's why I mentioned it.
2) I know about the earlier Dunkirk movie. Still doesn't excuse this current p.o.s.
3) Pure remakes are almost always a horribly bad idea, to the point that the suggester should, in nearly every case, be executed on the spot, by wild animals.
There are only two exceptions:
a) Wyler/Heston's Ben Hur was a vast improvement on the 1925 silent version.
b) Both good versions of The Three Musketeers are delightful in different ways (Gene Kelly in MGM's 1948 version, and the superb 1973 Richard Lester pair). Then Disney effed it up by trying another one in 1993 that made "atrocious" too small a word to contain the enormity of the cocking-up they did to it.

Irish said...

A fellow blogger shares your sentiments:

http://tooldtowork.com/2017/07/dunkirk-and-world-war-ii-movies-you-should-see/

Aesop said...

As did a lot of reviewers, none of whom I read prior to doing this, or any, review.
I worked all weekend, caught the Sunday noon show, and the review I wrote it was when I got home.

Wanted to like it, hoped it would be good, and it was two wasted hours of well-photographed shite, with diarrhea sauce.
WB should have shit-canned the entire idea, but obviously, no one was watching the dailies, and they figured, "Hey, he did a great Batman trilogy, so..."

Irish said...


Thanks for saving me some money :) It was on the list to go see.

Aesop said...

Happy to help.

Don't worry, it'll be out on video.

Maybe as early as Labor Day.

David said...

https://theringer.com/dunkirk-exit-survey-christopher-nolan-harry-styles-tom-hardy-turtlenecks-6b3b17b8bda8

"Jordan Coley: The most viscerally accurate facsimile of what I imagine it would have been like to experience the sheer terror and uncertainty of war."

Fuck this generation.

Anonymous said...

Sigh, I was looking forward to this too. Almost as much as The Dark Tower coming in August....

On the subject of remakes:

One of my wife's favorite movies is The Goodbye Girl (Richard Dreyfuss and Marsha Mason). Cute movie for what it is. A few years ago someone decided to do a TV remake. As far as I could tell it was an exact remake, if you combined the sound track of the original with the video of the remake (or vice versa) I doubt you'd never have the voiced out of sync with the action. Why bother? Just watch the original!

Mark D

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the warning. Was looking forward to it - because there WERE heroes in the tale; all of those Brits who took their own boats to rescue their soldiers. Guess I won't bother now.
"Forewarned is forearmed"
Boat Guy

Steven Parker said...

Yet Rotten Tomatoes gives it a 93% rating...God help us all for the decline of sense in Western civilization...