Dunkirk and Yu-Gi-Oh! Dark Side of Dimensions – Reviews


Dunkirk is a film I’ve been really interested to see, ever since the trailer emerged around Christmas time last year.

It’s the latest film to be written and directed by Christopher Nolan, who I’ve talked about in the past. In case you don’t know him, he is the guy behind Inception and The Dark Knight trilogy. Though he takes the occasional step into producing roles as well, as in Man of Steel, though how much influence he had on the production varies depending on whose account you go by. He is a really big name, no questions asked. There are very few directors whose name you can put on the front of a film to sell it; the only few others I can think of off the top of my head are names like Steven Spielberg, and Hayao Miyazaki. Though recently, Edgar Wright’s name was also used to sell Baby Driver (which I spoke about in last week’s mini-review).

Now the film had a phenomenal advertising campaign, which showed characters’ reactions to various things, and then was suddenly cut out. This technique is ingenious, as it gets us pumped for what it ultimately going on, and it would leave us speculating what kind of movie Nolan had for us next. Though, that was somewhat quietly tempered when the second trailer came along, and we saw a little too much of the project, which did suggest we were going to get a good film, yet exactly as expected.

The difference I would say between this and some of Christopher Nolan’s other recent movies, is unlike many of them, including the previously reviewed Interstellar, he’s not been joined by his brother in the writing department (Jonathan Nolan).

But I personally think Christopher Nolan had much more of an influence on those films, and his brother was more of a consultant, and I don’t know how much Jonathan had on those scripts.
But how did this film turn out?
I am not a massive historian, and I only know basic details of Dunkirk, so if I get a few things wrong, I apologise.

This would normally be where I go through the plot, but Dunkirk is one where there isn’t really a centralised plot. It’s an ensemble piece with a series of different plots going on, including two soldiers trying to get on any of the boats going home, played by Fionn Whitehead and Damian Bonnard; a ship captain who’s been requested to travel to Dunkirk to rescue soldiers, who is played by Mark Rylance, accompanied by his son, played by Tom Glynn-Carney, and local boy George, played by Barry Keoghan; as well as the story of a fighter pilot trying to keep the German forces from interfering with the evacuation process, played by Tom Hardy.

Dunkirk is a very ambitious film at the end of the day, trying to balance all these plots, and it does so very well. The film never spends too much on one plot at expense of the others, however it suffers from a similar problem that a lot of ensemble films suffer from. There are a lot of characters all competing for screen time. Fortunately, unlike many ensemble films, none of the characters go to waste, and all seem like they have a part to play.

The only one who is kind of under-utilised and I would have liked to see more of was Commander Bolton, who was played by Kenneth Branagh. He’s not given as much to do, but Branagh does his best to give this performance his all, which added extra dimensions to the character.

Any one of these plot lines could have made for a great film on their own, but I actually think there’s a very good reason why Nolan made it to be this way. The film actually rather reminded me of Titanic, not in the sense of the story as such, more in how it’s structured and what the director’s intentions were. James Cameron’s intentions with Titanic were clearly to humanise an event that was in recent history, resulted in a lot of deaths, and had been largely forgotten in the romanticisation of the event. Dunkirk is Nolan trying to do the same thing.

He does a very good job of this as well; the environments feel very barren and otherworldly, particularly the beach scenes. We barely see civilisation, in fact there’s only a few scenes shot in actual Dunkirk city at the very beginning of the film, and a few more later on down the line. But most shots are either of wide barren expanses, or closed and confined environments, which is to the film’s advantage. But the real advantage comes from the fact that we hardly see any German forces.

Despite the fact they are not really shown on screen, save for a few planes and the occasional gunfire, we barely, if ever see any actual German soldiers, whereas their presence is felt constantly. This is highlighted very well early on with the dropping of propaganda leaflets showing a map of Dunkirk, on which is written ‘We have you surrounded.’. Through this, you always feel as though they could attack any minute and do devastating damage, and we see a few very good scenes to back that up.

The fact of the matter is I want to say that Dunkirk is a phenomenal film; it seems like everything is done right. However, I didn’t really feel engaged with this film.

Don’t get me wrong, everything is very well done and is technically well-written, but I never engaged with any of the characters. The biggest issue with this is definitely Tom Hardy’s fighter pilot, who really does not have enough character in this film to keep me interested, and all the characters just seem to be ‘there’. They’re good characters, and all very well-written, but because of the number of plots and sub-plots to juggle (I know, tonnes of sub-plots in a Christopher Nolan film, who’da thunk it?) they are almost all cast aside.

A lot of people go on about Nolan being a excellent director, but for all of his positives, he’s never been that great of a character writer. The exception to the rule being The Dark Knight, where he appeared to be on top form for that production.

It’s also profoundly long-winded in a lot of departments. Despite the actual film being rather short, only coming in at an hour and forty minutes, it does feel like a lot of films are drawn out. This is more just nitpickery, the only thing I would say is great films feel like they really draw you in, and keep you in suspense the whole length of the film, and make me forget that I am a critic.

This film on the other hand, constantly reminded me that I am a critic, and it more felt like I was meant to be admiring what a technical marvel is was rather than what an amazing character piece it was, and I don’t think it humanised me to the piece of history in the same way Cameron did with Titanic. Before anybody gets in my grill, I have plenty of negatives to give about Titanic, I just think it did a better job that Dunkirk in that department, but I will concede that it was a three hour film with plenty of time to build on tonnes of side characters that would be called back on later.

Dunkirk did have side characters, including a couple of ‘Oh it’s him from that!’ actors, such as one moment when several soldiers are pinned down under a moored Dutch ship while the Germans use it for target practice, I found myself internally saying ‘Oh, it’s Carl from Shameless!’. There are a few of these, though weirdly enough Harry Styles makes an appearance! There’s nothing really negative about his performance, but he’s just too recognisable to be included, and it really takes you out of the immersion. It’s David Beckham in King Arthur: Legend of the Sword all over again, except this time round it’s a lot better.

If there’s one thing I have to say about this film, it’s that the benefits far outweigh the negatives, it just wasn’t a film that you could come out of saying ‘I loved it, I really want to see it again’, and I think that’s down to the fact that I didn’t connect with the film in the way that Nolan wanted us to.

Maybe it’s my personal taste, but that’s kind of where I was left by it.

It’s one of those hard things to really describe, but it’s more that I didn’t feel it with this one, and I think that’s down to it being a bit too ambitious.
The acting actually is pretty damn good.
Mark Rylance is once again on top form, and while Tom Hardy rather feels under-characterised he’s doing his best in his performance, although he’s starting to become an actor tied to a director, as Johnny Depp is to Tim Burton, Russel Crowe is tied to Ridley Scott, and Leonardo DiCaprio is tied to Martin Scorsese.

I’ve already mentioned that I really enjoyed Kenneth Branagh’s performance, but the two best performances I feel I should mention were Fionn Whitehead and Damian Bonnard, who definitely both could be up for Best Supporting Actor at the Oscars.

As for presentation, Dunkirk in many senses, is kind of a technical marvel. The location sets are brilliant; sets, brilliant. Everything looks amazingly dark and otherworldly. It suits the setting of the film perfectly, and is done perfectly to give it an authentic feel.

The costume department should also be praised, as there are some excellent costumes. But one of the real standouts of the technical department has to be Hans Zimmer for his fantastic score that is just perfect for the film, and I really hope at this point he gets nominated for an Oscar. It’s not the best score I’ve heard this year, or even the best soundtrack, but I loved it, and it’s probably one of the best parts about the film.

Dunkirk is a film I would describe as very well done and technically well-made, but it isn’t a slam dunk for me.

I think the problem is that they tried to juggle a bit too much at once, and while for the most part it succeeds, it doesn’t give a full engaging experience. It does do a decent job of bringing a human level to a part of history that in a couple of decades will be over a century ago, but I felt like this film needed a bit of a tighter focus.

It’s a pretty good film, all things considered, and I really can recommend it. I’m just not going nuts for it, and I’m not going to say that this is ’97% on Rotten Tomatoes’-worthy, though the technical department and behind-the-scenes staff really deserve props for the effort they made.

Mini Review – Yu-Gi-Oh! Dark Side of Dimensions

Released in cinemas in February, reviewed after the Blu-Ray and DVD release.

You know what, I began with minimal expectations for this film, but it turned out to be much better than I expected. It does a pretty good job of carrying the look and feel of the original Yu-Gi-Oh! series, and despite taking place past the finale, which I felt was perfectly fine and led into various good sequels, it felt like it belonged. It was good and gave finality to that era of the series.

To go into part that only fans of the franchise would get, I feel the best component to the movie was Kaiba’s character development.

I’m not going to go out and say that this was a brilliant piece of work, but for Yu-Gi-Oh! it was the best of the bunch so far for anybody who likes the card game.

Oh, and unlike the other ones, we actually get proper duels this time, quite a few in fact, taking advantage of the two hour run-time.

If you want more detail into my thoughts, check out the upcoming mini Anime Amigos vlog on the 9th of August, where we will delve into spoiler territory.

Well, that’s it for me this week, and despite the fact I’m going away to Germany for my traditional early-August music festival, I did have time to make a review, so join me next time where I’ll be giving my thoughts on Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets, based on a graphic novel, directed by Luc Besson.

All that being said, thank you for reading this review. I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I did writing it, and man is it getting harder to do my Top 10 Films of the Year list with all the good films having being released so far!

Calvin – Nerd Consultant

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One comment on “Dunkirk and Yu-Gi-Oh! Dark Side of Dimensions – Reviews
  1. ronnie says:

    Before I comment on the Dunkirk Film, I declare an interest ,my late Dad was at Dunkirk when he was 20 in 1940 the year Dunkirk happened.
    The Film was a very good film capturing the horror of War at Dunkirk.
    I thought the Film showed very well the importance of getting as many people Home as possible both on a humanitarian level and to be able to continue the War against Germany. At that time there was a very real danger Hitler could invade The United Kingdom.
    I think Calvin is right about Kenneth Brannagh being underused who did a very good job with the role he had.
    Dunkirk is now rapidly passing into History and although a Film was made about Dunkirk in the 1950’s I think they were right to make this latest Film on Dunkirk bringing Dunkirk which really happened to a New Generation of Cinema Audiences.

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