Monday, 24 July 2017

Dunkirk & War for the Planet of the Apes

Well this past weekend was pretty awesome one for film. I saw both War for the Planet of the Apes and Dunkirk, and instead of dedicating a post to just one of them, I decided to review both. Read on to find out what I thought. 


I’m a big fan of Nolan but wasn’t overly excited for his latest project, nothing against war films but they don’t usually do it for me unless they have Star in the title. This one blew me away though, a tightly executed film that felt like the third act of a film stretched into an hour and forty minutes from three different perspectives.

As soon as the film starts you know what you’re in for, the great score once again composed by Hans Zimmer moving the action along, creating enormous amounts of tension from the unseen threat and pumping in tonnes of emotion, heart and most importantly hope.

There’s mixture of great characters in here with a vast cast of excellent performers giving it their all. Mark Rylance was the heart of the film, Tom Hardy was the hero and newcomer Fionn Whitehead is the audience’s way in. And being Christopher Nolan the story is cut into a slightly more complex than it should be narrative that transcends time, sometimes distracting from the story as you try to figure where each scene places. A small criticism in a film that is largely incredible.

The sound was booming and there wasn’t a peep in my cinema that brought in a wide variety of audiences young and old, it was something to be admired. I don’t know how it will play in the States but over here in the UK the cinema was packed and it was quite an experience to see it on the big screen. There was one scene in particular, where a boat is sunk after being torpedoed, that made me think instantly of my Great Grandad that died in WW2 in a similar fashion, it was hard to watch but also something that will and has already stayed with me.

I think that’s what this film gets right, although mostly bloodless, the horrors of war are shown in a completely different way and the desperation and psychological elements engage the audience and make you think long and hard about what the soldiers had to go through. The only thing I could think of that was as good as portraying this was Spielberg’s Band of Brother TV series.

Was this Nolan’s best film? No, but it was still another great addition to filmography. It’s an experience that grabs you by throat and never lets you. It may be his most compact film but it’s still trying too hard to be complex, which is strange considering the story alone is legendary enough to behold on the big screen. It is still done in masterful form, incredibly shot, a flawless mix of live action and CGI, an experience to watch on the big screen, go watch it now. I’m rating Dunkirk a 4.5/5.

War for the Planet of the Apes

The reboot Apes films have always been good but then they kind of drop off the ‘pop culture’ radar after each film. It’s weird considering they are so widely beloved but also good because I was not expecting what I just saw…

War of the Planet of the Apes is a masterpiece in blockbuster franchise filmmaking. It’s a grim and dark film that twists and turns, it’s heavily subtitled and deeply political, how did this film get greenlit and how did this film only get a 12A/PG13 rating? Don’t get me wrong I’m glad it did, I didn’t expect what I saw in this film, each trope was subverted and every moment you thought you knew what was happening it would go the opposite way. The moral dynamics that made Dawn so engaging are back but they are done so much better and the fights seems a lot more personal and emotional, something that was lacking from the last one.

The film is so personal to Caesar’s journey and it’s intricately woven with his mirror image antagonist played excellently by Woody Harrelson. War is kind of misleading with its title, there is action and it is cool but the war is more inner turmoil than external and it’s so well realised and beautiful. Even the big ‘war’ scenes are slowed down for the personal fight and moments between one or two characters.

The cinematography and score is excellent and just to top it off the effects are insane. Like actually photo-realistic insane. It’s got to be seen to be believed but I actually felt like I could reach out and touch each character, I’ve never seen anything like it. If it doesn’t win the Oscar for best special effects next year then it will be a crime, this is the best CGI I have ever seen.

This is a fitting possible ‘conclusion’ to the Apes reboot prequel trilogy and this film really is the icing on the cake, if I was to make any criticism it would be the lack of female characters, but that aside War delivers, firing on all cylinders. The Batman is in good hands of director Matt Reeves who has shown with this film he knows how to handle characters, morality and big themes seriously and with depth and emotion. I’m rating this film a 5/5.

Yes, don't shoot me, I enjoyed War over Dunkirk but only just by a little amount...

What did you think of the films, has this been the best month for film in 2017 so far? Let me know in the comments below.

Thanks for reading!

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