I recently got back from visiting the family for
Christmas holiday vacation, i.e. sitting in a guest room watching movies on cable for 2 weeks. It’s the only time of the year I really watch movies, so I try to catch all the acclaimed and big name flicks in that brief window.
Evidently the last year and a half was a terrible period for movies, or so the reviews would lead me to believe. You see, of all the films I watched, most that won awards and acclaim were rather lackluster.
La La Land was a musical that couldn’t decide what the hell genre it ultimately wanted to be, and had a forgettable soundtrack (not a great attribute for a musical). Get Out was a middle-of-the-road horror movie that awkwardly crammed in racial elements to the thrill of a Hollywood eager to flagellate itself over not being “black” enough. Jackie was an hour and a half of a camera following Natalie Portman while she sulks around the White House doing a deaf Marilyn Monroe impression. Suicide Squad was a superhero movie that had too many characters, the primary one consisting of Will Smith doing the same sarcastic Fresh Prince character he’s done for half his career. Granted Suicide Squad wasn’t acclaimed by any stretch, but I needed to call out Will Smith for being an overrated actor.
Then there was Dunkirk. Jesus Christ. What a mess.
The Miracle of Dunkirk was an event wherein roughly 340,000 allied soldiers were evacuated from north France in 1940. The movie Dunkirk is about a guy in a plane missing targets over and over, an old guy and his son piloting a boat between England and France, and a bunch of guys hiding out in a beached fishing boat.
The movie starts with some kids running while being shot at. One kid escapes death, only to walk to the beach and take a dump in the sand. This movie is off to a great start already.
Dunkirk then does a mildly serviceable job of illustrating the scope of the massive evacuation. We see docks full of soldiers standing around waiting for ships to ferry them away from having been surrounded by German troops. Granted, they collectively give off the vibe of a bunch of holiday travelers standing around the airport, waiting for their group to be called to begin boarding. The attempt was made however, and that’s what counts.
Then we follow an old guy, his son, and a friend as they pilot a boat through the water. They rescue a stranded soldier from a sunken vessel, he spergs out once he realizes they’re going towards France, then accidentally knocks one of the kids down a staircase on the boat, rendering the kid instantaneously blind. No, this isn’t Days of Our Lives. This is Dunkirk: The Movie.
A pilot gets shot down, and the boat people rescue him in the nick of time before he drowns. This part was actually engaging and entertaining. As long as you ignore the fact that the pilot hits the glass on his jet 4,157 times in a row with the butt of a flare gun after the canopy won’t open, never trying another means of escaping. Also ignore the fact that the glass didn’t break upon being hit 4,157 times in a row with the butt of a flare gun. As long as you ignore those two things that actually happened in Dunkirk, the scene is good.
Next up, is the crowning achievement of 21st century cinema. Get prepared for this scene. This scene is so well written, you won’t be able to enjoy another movie as long as you live.
*DOUBLE SPOILER ALERT*
Get this… So these soldiers are walking along the beach and see an abandoned boat beached up on the shore during low tide. They crawl inside so that they can sail off into the sunset when the tide rises. Then some Germans off in the distance start shooting at the boat for target practice. This is a fairly good moment of tense drama we got going on here. Don’t worry though. Shitty writing is about to ruin it.
What do these soldier do while enclosed inside a boat that’s being shot it. Well, to start, one of them peeks out one of the bullet holes to see where they’re being shot from… and totally gets shot. DIDN’T SEE THAT COMING FROM 150 METERS AWAY.
So now we have guys trapped in a boat full of bullet holes, and the boat is quickly taking on water because of those 56 bullet holes in the side. You’re never going to guess what happens next. Go ahead and guess. Give up? I’ll tell you what happens next.
Ready for it?
These guys… get into a conversation… about somebody getting off the boat to lighten the load. The boat that is now half-filled with water and full of holes. Lemme run that by you again. They stand around deciding who should leave the sinking boat to lighten the load. So that the boat will sink slower I guess?
Maybe everyone should get the frick off the gosh-darn boat that is sinking? Are they deciding who gets to live by not drowning in a sinking boat?
To be honest, I’m not sure how this scene eventually resolved itself, because I was so dumbfounded that the guy who wrote Memento, The Prestige, and Inception somehow also wrote this complete and utter horseshit, that I had to get up and take a breather.
THEY ARGUED ABOUT WHO WOULD HAVE TO LEAVE A SINKING BOAT, TO LIGHTEN THE LOAD ON THE BOAT, WHICH IS SINKING, AND THE GUY THEY WERE TRYING TO KICK OFF WASN’T JUST LIKE “ALRIGHT. PEACE, BITCHES. HAVE A GOOD TIME DYING ON THIS SINKING BOAT.”
Sorry for the excessive caps lock.
A few other things happen, but it really doesn’t matter by this point in the film. The fishing boat scene happened, and nothing in the film from this point on could have possibly redeemed it.
For whatever reason, critics couldn’t drop trou fast enough to furiously wank over how great this movie was.
Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian awarded the film five out of five and called it “Nolan’s best to date”. Uh.. did you watch any of his other films, Peter? Interstellar just came out 3 years ago. His movie with the retarded fishing boat scene was his best to date? Ok.
Chris Nashawaty of Entertainment Weekly gave the film an “A”, calling it the best of 2017. Despite my above statement that this year was a weak year for movies, there were a lot of great looking movies I still have to see. From Okja, to Blade Runner 2049, The Shape of Water, Baby Driver, Logan, Mother, and John Wick 2 among others. Yet somehow a movie light on substance and heavy on forced drama was the best of 2017. Me thinks you have low standards for when things are “the best”, Chris.
A bunch of other critics said a bunch of other hyperbolic things, but I’m dragging this bitch-fest out a little too long as is.
As a last note though, I’ve seen a lot of people state that the movie “needed to be seen in theaters”. It was a great movie as a theater experience, evidently.
Well, in my opinion, a great movie should still hold up outside of the theater. How’s that for a divisive statement?
A musician could write fairly shit music, but it’s probably going to sound good in an arena with a dazzling light show, through a sound system blasting away at 120 decibels. The spectacle is great and all, but it shouldn’t cover for lackluster art.
I’ve enjoyed most of Nolan’s movies from the comfort of my home. Those movies held up just fine on their own merit, without the necessity of theatrical bombast. Dunkirk should as well. Unfortunately it didn’t. Hence, it is horseshit.
Feel free to disagree, but you are incorrect.
Good day, sir and/or madam.