Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Dunkirk Premiere Review

After seeing the premiere of "Dunkirk" last night at IMAX in Melbourne Australia, I think it's safe to say that this is one of Christopher Nolan's greatest films. Thank you, Roadshow Films! I was lucky enough to be one of many people around the world to see it before it hits cinemas on Thursday.
I wouldn't say the best Nolan's done (that pleasure goes to "The Prestige"), but it definitely redefined the War genre in terms of filmmaking such as story and structure.

*I wouldn't say this review has spoilers per se, as it's based off a real event, but I talk about the story structure which might ruin the surprise when you watch it. I do not talk about the characters fates or what roles they portrayed, only a general response to the quality of their acting and screentime. I talk about the experience in watching it in IMAX 70mm, and Zimmer's score. So if you want to continue, read on!*

As a filmmaker myself, with a love for film composing (Hans Zimmer is the best as well as many others!), writing, editing and filming, Nolan created "Dunkirk" quite differently than the usual War tropes we see in other War films.

We barely see the enemies which is amazing because like the soldiers in any war, you never truly see their faces. There is no main character, the most famous actors in the film (Tom, Cillian and Kenneth) share screentime with everybody else. Why? Because it's an ensemble film. The film is about ALL the soldiers during this part of the War, all who experienced it from the ground, the air and the water.
These different perspectives jump back and forth a lot between the three groups in the timeline of the plot as well as making it non-linear, reminding me of his non-linear structure he developed in "Memento". It is a LOT like that. That's not something you ever see in a War film.

There's never been a film quite like "Dunkirk" before and I watch nearly everything. I enjoyed that it wasn't generic, as that is usually not his style anyway so I expected it. I enjoyed that it gave light to a specific character who, unlike other War films, would be classed as the Antagonist, but isn't. Soldiers on both sides of the War suffer similarly. Whether you're judged good or bad, not everyone is the same.

The greatest thing about seeing it last night at IMAX, was that Melbourne is one of 37 theatres around the world (the only one in Australia) to have the 1570 film reel of the film. While this isn't a new thing (such as "The Hateful Eight"), "Dunkirk" is currently the only film in the world to be 75% filmed with IMAX cameras. So if you're like me and can see the difference in the technical aspects while watching a film, the resolution will be quite different, but barely noticeable in the long run (well it was quite noticeable to me because I literally analyse every film I watch. But hey, that's fun for me!).

We sat inside the cinemas. There were just over 120 of us. The screen loomed over our heads. It is the biggest cinema in the world apparently, and having been to IMAX a few times before, this was the first time I've experienced a film with full IMAX resolution (roughly 18k) and played with the vintage refitted good old 1570 film projector (previously used in the 70's and 80's before digital projectors replaced the film). As soon as the film started playing, you could hear the projector spinning in the background behind us before it was drowned out by the background noise of the film. It was like we were brought back to the 70's and 80's. I was born in 1990, but I can only imagine how amazing the film watching experience was before I was born, instead of the digital we have now.

I won't dwell too long on the actors, but a special shout out to Harry Styles (that guy from One Direction) who literally blew my expectations. I'm not a fan of the band, but I also never got onto the bandwagon against him acting in the film because I trust Nolan's judgement in hiring actors to play a part.

Fionn who was another with big screentime, was wonderful. He's a newcomer and I expect great things from him. Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy are brilliant as always. I can never fault them. Tom had more screentime than Cillian though.

The experience of watching "Dunkirk" the way Nolan intended us to watch it was quite a ride. My brother himself was extremely impressed, and just like me, he loves Nolan, Zimmer and War films. It's not everyday you have a sibling just like you, so this is an advantage when it comes to having an obsessive love for film.

Hans Zimmer's score was absolutely intense and heart-pumping suspensful. It was a mixture between the 'Why So Serious" theme as well as "Interstellar". Overall, it was basically atmospheric in nature, creating that ticking sound of uncertainty and the ominous looming nature of struggle, survival and death. I felt like I was right there in the action, feeling their fear of death and uncertainty, feeling their need to survive against all odds.

I give the film 9/10. I only put it down one point because the shaky cam gave me a frightful headache (which is common with me), but luckily the shaky cam was quite natural in its framing and it wasn't overdone like you see in the Bourne films (now that's the worst!).

"Dunkirk" is a must-watch, especially in IMAX. If your cinema or any lucky IMAX cinema near you has the 70mm film reel with the 1570 film projector, I urge you to travel there and view it the way Nolan wanted you to experience it. Trust me, you won't be disappointed and it definitely does live up to the hype!

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