Britain's epic 1940 evacuation of Dunkirk has been dramatised on film before, but no one has taken an approach like Christopher Nolan. Not that this is a surprise, since Nolan has made a career of fiercely inventive filmmaking. But this might be his masterpiece: a relatively simple story told with creative verve, relentlessly growing intensity, emotional resonance and the weight of history.
He recounts the events on three timelines. Over the course of a week, young soldier Tommy (rising star Fionn Whitehead) finds himself on the beach at Dunkirk amid 400,000 soldiers hemmed in from behind by the Germans and looking for some way to get across the Channel to England. But every ship he finds is sunk in front of him, or under him, as German pilots drop bombs from the sky. Meanwhile over the course of one day, English yachtsman Dawson (Mark Rylance) and his sons (Tom Glynn-Carney and Barry Keoghan) head off to do what they can as part of an armada of small civilian boats. And in the sky above over the course of an hour, spitfire pilot Farrier (Tom Hardy) engages the Luftwaffe in a series of aerial battles.
Nolan skilfully edits these three time-strands together into a narrative that continually loops back on itself, showing events from different angles. It sometimes feels a bit repetitive, but that's the point, and the result is increasingly resonant as it recounts the events from three internal perspectives. In the focal roles, Whitehead, Rylance and Hardy offer distinct angles on heroism and survival. These are powerfully engaging performances that reveal men merely doing what they can in seemingly impossible situations.
Continue reading: Dunkirk Review
Brainy blockbuster maestro Christopher Nolan heads into deep space with this epic adventure, which is packed with thoughtful ideas and big emotions even if the plot wobbles badly in the middle. But although it ultimately feels somewhat forced, the film is still a mesmerising exploration of parenthood and survival, bending time and gravity in ways that keep our brains spinning. And the seamless visual effects combine with some wrenching performances to make it unmissable.
It opens in a future America where a desperation for food has overtaken the need for technology and innovation. Which is a problem for Nasa pilot Cooper (Matthew McConaughey), who is now working a massive corn farm that he runs with his father (John Lithgow). Then Cooper and his daughter Murph (Mackenzie Foy) discover a gravitational anomaly that leads them to a secret base run by father and daughter scientists Brand and Amelia (Michael Caine and Anne Hathaway), who are looking for a new home planet for humanity since Earth is dying. So Cooper joins up and heads through a wormhole with Amelia and crew (Wes Bentley and David Gyasi). Meanwhile, Murph (who grows up to be Jessica Chastain) gets involved in the project back on earth, wondering if her dad will ever return home as he promised.
The first act of the story is a beautiful depiction of yearning for discovery, that innate curiosity that drives people to do crazy things in the hopes of pushing the humanity forward (or in this case, saving it). Nolan directs this section beautifully, with sharp editing propelling the story out into space with real energy and passion. But once they begin visiting other planets, there are some extended episodes that feel oddly contrived, including an encounter that leads to unexplained violence, explosions and melodrama. These kinds of things undermine the characters' motivations to the point where the audience just has to take Nolan's word for it and ride it out, even as the underlying ideas begin to lose their weightiness.
Continue reading: Interstellar Review
Superman gets the Dark Knight treatment, as Christopher Nolan offers a much grittier, more intensely personal look at the biggest superhero of them all. It's a flawed film that feels far too violent for its own good, but the pungent story holds us in its grip all the way through, cleverly weaving the character's back-story into a series of emotive flashbacks along with massively thrilling action sequences. And along the way there are resonant ethical dilemmas, family issues and pointed political drama.
Some 30 years ago, scientist Jor-El (Crowe) packed his infant son Kal-El into a pod and sent him to Earth to escape certain doom as the planet Krypton imploded after centuries of ecological abuse. This enrages the viciously tenacious General Zod (Shannon) who spends three decades searching for the child. Meanwhile, Kal-El (Cavill) was raised as Clark in Smallville, Kansas, by the Kents (Lane and Costner), who taught him to keep his powers in check. But when he activates a downed Kryptonian ship, he alerts Zod to his whereabouts. And just as nosey journalist Lois Lane (Adams) learns Clark's secret, Zod arrives to launch a full-on attack.
This is a film about internal conflicts, and everyone has to face up to their own desires and responsibilities. Even Zod, whose dedication to his people means that he is willing to wipe out humanity in order to recreate Krypton on Earth. So Kal-El is caught between protecting his adopted planet and being loyal to his birth species. Lois is struggling with keeping a big secret or reporting the news. All of this provides plenty of gristle for the actors to chew on, even if the dilemmas aren't actually that difficult. And even though they sometimes seem consumed by the elaborate sets and costumes.
Continue reading: Man Of Steel Review
It's eight years later, and Commissioner Gordon (Oldman) has allowed the press to create a myth that Batman was a villain. Badly injured, Bruce Wayne (Bale) has become a recluse, tended to by his butler Alfred (Caine). Then a new baddie arrives: Bane (Hardy) is part of the League of Shadows, trained by Bruce's old nemesis Ra's al Ghul (Neeson) to purge the world of human decadence. So Bruce turns to Wayne company boss Lucius (Freeman) to get back in fighting shape, deciding to trust a slippery cat burglar (Hathaway) and a rookie cop (Gordon-Levitt).
Continue reading: The Dark Knight Rises Review
Cobb (DiCaprio) invades people's dreams for a living, stealing ideas with the help of his sidekick Arthur (Gordon-Levitt). But a new client (Watanabe) wants him to try inception instead: implanting an idea in the mind of media heir Fischer (Murphy). So Cobb hires a new architect (Page) and two other skilled experts (Hardy and Rao) to create an elaborately layered dreamworld for the reverse heist. The problem is that Cobb's wife (Cotillard) is lurking in this alternate reality and could bring the whole plan crashing down around them.
Continue reading: Inception Review
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