Entertainment & Arts

Dunkirk: Do Oscars beckon for Nolan's war epic?

Harry Styles Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption One Direction star Harry Styles makes his acting debut in Dunkirk

The reviews are in - and most film critics have heaped praise on Christopher Nolan's World War Two film Dunkirk.

It stars Tom Hardy, Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh, and of course, One Direction star Harry Styles.

The film is set in 1940 and is about the rescue of 338,000 Allied troops from the beaches of Dunkirk, France.

The film is released across the UK on Friday.

So is it the best film of the year so far?

Here's what the experts think:

Peter Debruge - Variety

Though the subject matter is leagues (and decades) removed from the likes of Inception and The Dark Knight, the result is so clearly a Christopher Nolan film - from its immersive, full-body suspense to the sophisticated way he manipulates time and space - that his fans will eagerly follow en masse to witness the achievement. And what an achievement it is!

Read the full review here.

Robbie Collin - The Telegraph

Like all great war films, it's every bit as transfixing up close: at the wheels of the civilian boats scudding across the Channel, inside the cockpits of the fighter planes tearing overhead, and most of all on the beach, with those uniformed boys barely out of their teens, wrestling with the strange notion of defeat with honour even as they fight for their lives.

Five stars

Read the full review here.

Peter Bradshaw - The Guardian

It is Nolan's best film so far. It also has Hans Zimmer's best musical score: an eerie, keening, groaning accompaniment to a nightmare, switching finally to quasi-Elgar variations for the deliverance itself. Zimmer creates a continuous pantonal lament, which imitates the dive bomber scream and queasy turning of the tides, and it works in counterpoint to the deafening artillery and machine-gun fire that pretty much took the fillings out of my teeth and sent them in a shrapnel fusillade all over the cinema auditorium.

Five stars

Read the full review here.

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Prince Harry met the actors at the Dunkirk world premiere in Leicester Square

Nick De Semlyen - Empire Magazine

Where it does deliver on action is in the sky. Today's audiences have spent decades watching digital dogfights in Star Wars movies, themselves originally inspired by World War Two movies such as Twelve O' Clock High. Nolan gets the wow factor back by stripping away the pixels, shooting real Spitfires on real sorties above the real English Channel. The results are incredible, particularly on the vast expanse of an Imax screen, with the wobbly crates veering and soaring above a mass of blue.

Five stars

Read the full review here.

Kevin Maher - The Times

What it is, essentially, is 106 clamorous minutes of big-screen bombast that's so concerned with its own spectacle and scale (shot on huge IMAX and 65mm cameras, for big frames and big action) that it neglects to deliver the most crucial element - drama.

Character and plot don't matter because you're there, in the thick of things. It's just like - you guessed it - a video game. And that, ultimately, is the colossal disappointment at the heart of this movie.

Two stars

Read the full review here (paywall).

Todd McCarthy - The Hollywood Reporter

Although the film is deeply moving at unexpected moments, it's not due to any manufactured sentimentality or false heroics. Bursts of emotion here explode like depth charges, at times and for reasons that will no doubt vary from viewer to viewer. There's never a sense of Nolan - unlike, say Spielberg - manipulating the drama in order to play the viewer's heartstrings. Nor is there anything resembling a John Williams score to stir the emotional pot.

Read the full review here.

Christopher Hooton - The Independent

It's a staggering achievement but for some will verge on clinical, particularly as it wraps up in patriotic fervour toward the end.

In spite of my want for deeper or more oblique notes in it, Dunkirk is an unbelievably assured and thrilling war film. Nolan is at the top of his game, and what a joy it is to watch him construct such grand scale filmmaking.

Four stars.

Read the full review here.

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