Hans Zimmer

Dunkirk (2017)

War is hell. Absolute hell.

And that is exactly what Christopher Nolan has chosen to portray in his latest venture, Dunkirk. However, unlike Saving Private Ryan and Hacksaw Ridge with their glorious actions sequences, Dunkirk rather takes on a subdued approach to the war.

Christopher Nolan is an absolute visionary of a director, with his back catalogue including Interstellar, The Prestige and the Batman trilogy. It’s an absolute change of pace from showing the quest to leave the planet, to the evacuation of Dunkirk, a key point during the Second World War for the British forces.

What’s always been interesting in Nolan’s filmmaking is that he shows a diverse range of how to tell a story from Momento to The Prestige. He chooses to have Dunkirk shown in a linear method with three intersecting stories from the air, the sea and the ground. And that is where we find Tommy (Fionn Whitehead) running the streets of Dunkirk eluding German fire as ‘We Surround You’ flyers cascade around him in one tense sequence.

And the tension doesn’t stop there. For the entirety of the film, the tension never takes it foot off the pedal. The constant changing of the tempo between the land, the sea and the air was crucial to keep the tension at boiling point throughout Dunkirk.

Christopher Nolan also manages to convincingly display glimpses into the hellishness of war, channelled mostly through Cillian Murphy’s shell-shocked soldier and his apprehension to continue heading into battle. But also the recognition from the civilian perspective, as Peter (Tom Glynn-Carney) and his father, Mr. Dawson (Mark Rylance), share a nuanced nod to not disclose information to the shell-shocked soldier aboard.

The narrative choice is possibly one of the most interesting choices, but it is key for the tension to be kept at a high level. But what is more interesting there is a certain absence of a traditional protagonist held within the film, but rather having The Mole, The Sea and The Air being characters within their own right and having characters placed throughout.

Normally Christopher Nolan allows the screen to be drenched in the characters, giving them time to be invested in, but the narrative method doesn’t allow this as time became a key factor in each of the segments. But there comes in the brilliance of the cast behind Nolan’s Dunkirk. Mark Rylance and Kenneth Branagh managing to exhibit the perfect amount of emotion that is needed regardless of how bleak the situation is and regardless of the screen time, especially when Home arrives.

Long-standing music collaborator Hans Zimmer chose to intertwine his score with occasional ticking, giving that reminder time is incredibly precious in these situations. This motif is carried throughout the three segments, as Farrier (Tom Hardy) keeps a close eye on the time to gauge his fuel.

Dunkirk is an incredible piece of filmmaking and Christopher Nolan showed a wonderful skill of narrative structure as the film progressed through it’s 100+ minute runtime and the motif use of time. The cast gave unbelievable performances, especially for the screen time each member received. It is potentially the tensest I’ve been in a cinema when watching a film and it was incredible.

Without the need to show the explicit war sequences, Christopher Nolan managed to give Dunkirk an incredible feel for the war by the incredibly loud action sequences from the get-go. By having the air sequences shot incredibly close to the nose was great and incredibly effective for what was needed on the screen. Overall, there’s little to dislike with Dunkirk. Christopher Nolan continues his incredible visionary filmmaking and remains one of the best directors in the business today.

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Batman v Superman: The Dawn Of Justice (2016)

The long awaited sequel to Man of Steel and the re-imagining of Batman has finally landed on our screens and it’s all thanks to Zack Synder. After being disappointed with Man of Steel, but excited for Affleck’s Batman I braved a screening of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice among the dire reviews the film has been receiving.

Due to the reimagining of Batman, the origin has to take place, but this time it settles for a quick snapshot of scenes of how Bruce Wayne became an orphan. However, the basis of Dawn of Justice takes place 18 months after the battle in Metropolis between General Zod and Superman. Superman becomes a controversial figure during this battle as his warpath ruins people lives. (namely those working for Wayne Finanical) 

Thus out of the wreckage is born the rivalry and hatred emanating from Bruce Wayne/Batman (Ben Affleck). My biggest fear for this film, after hearing the introduction of Wonder Woman and Aquaman was it to become a big glut of superheroes each competing for screen time, much like Avengers Assemble. 

It’s safe to say, this did not happen, as the bulk of the story relies on this rivalry (and I mean rivalry in a very loose term) as Synder only teases Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman story enough for the mystery to remain unsolved regarding her true nature. This all comes about as Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) pits Batman and Superman against each other leading into the big hurrah. I won’t say much more due to potential spoilers in the story.

The story and how it unfolds was completely different to what I was initially anticipating. I struggled to think how Lex and Diana (Wonder Woman) would fit into the story as the two men waged war on each other, but the story flowed nicely teasing and introducing their characters at apt times and even packed out the action sequences to good effect.

BATMAN V SUPERMAN

Understandably this film is not perfect by any means. For me, there seemed to be a lot of ‘filler’ like Bruce Wayne training whilst cutting the kryptonite. The film is a whopping 151 minutes, and when it boils down to the last 15 minutes or so, it begins to wear thin as they set up for the upcoming Justice League film.

One big triumph for me is the fact they haven’t relied on the slapstick and comedic flair that has become a natural part of Marvel films. DC on the other hand relied on the action-packed sequences and creating these strong, intriguing characters and not to mention taking a serious approach to these characters. Affleck’s rough-around-the-edges Batman was fantastic and seemed to show a relentlessness toward villians. (Bale’s Batman specified no killing) Jesse Eisenberg’s Lex Luthor was strange. I am by no means an avid comic book fan, but Eisenberg’s Lex seemed over the top and far too easily agitated. I expected a smooth, slick and composed Lex Luthor, not one showing sporadic thoughts and continually venting nonsense throughout his scenes.

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Synder has a talent of creating these vast worlds and the cities of Metropolis and Gotham are as dizzying and immersive as expected, the true triumph however is the ‘dream’ sequence and Superman’s montage of saving people, as these are some absolutely gorgeous scenes. This coupled with Hans Zimmer soundtrack is always bound to add to the enjoyment factor, but there was something else about Zimmer’s soundtrack, creating intoxicating beats, including one track that wouldn’t go amiss in Mad Max: Fury Road. 

As I said, this film is by no means perfect, but it’s still really enjoyable. A creative reimagining of the Batman franchise, with Zack Synder heading the charge and the creation of worlds is a joy to watch unfold. For mainly plot reasons and spoilers, I don’t want to divulge in the story, but apart from a few standalone points, the story is enjoyable and carries itself over the rather daunting 151 minutes. Unlike the Marvel films, this is the beginning of a serious approach to the superhero universe, rather than the lighthearted undertaken by Marvel.

I left the cinema feeling rather positive, but a little confused with a few of the plot points including the dream sequence, Lex’s peculiar behaviour and why they included the Rocky-esque montages. Background knowledge seemed to have played a part when visiting this film, but doesn’t hang too heavy over the films head, but may help with a few of the more finer plot points. That being said, with the strong characters, immersive landscapes and gorgeous Zimmer soundtrack, the positives outweigh the negatives for me.

Affleck’s Batman was everything I wanted it to be and was possibly my favourite thing about this film.