Dunkirk (2017)

Director: Christopher Nolan

Writer: Christopher Nolan (Screenplay)

Starring: Fionn Whitehead, Kenneth Branagh, Cillian Murphy, Mark Rylance, Tom Hardy, Aneurin Barnard, Barry Keoghan, Harry Styles

 

Plot: Allied soldiers from Belgium, the British Empire, Canada, and France are surrounded by the German army and evacuated during a fierce battle in World War II.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Epic War Thriller

 

Story: Dunkirk starts as we English soldier Tommy (Whitehead) desperately making his way to the beach on Dunkirk for the evacuation of the British Soldiers, all 400,000 are waiting for this moment, as Commander Bolton (Branagh) is arranging this on the beach as the soldiers are being picked off from the air. Back home Mr Dawson (Rylance) is taking his son Peter (Glynn-Carney) and friend George (Keoghan) by his small weekend yacht to Dunkirk as the private boats are being called upon to rescue the soldiers. In the air spitfires pilots Farrier (Hardy) and Collins (Lowden) are leading the battle from the skies as they look to defend the returning ships.

The three stories play out through the different time leading up to the final moments of the film in what is known as one of the greatest rescue missions of all time in any war.

 

Thoughts on Dunkirk

 

Characters – Tommy, Gibson and Alex are three soldiers stuck on the beach of Dunkirk, they try their hardest to get off the beach of Dunkirk, we see their struggles like many of the soldiers who would have wanted safety in the horrors of war. Mr Dawson, Peter and George show three figures who couldn’t fight in the war but will do everything for their own part in saving the soldiers. The Shivering soldier shows us the effects of war on these soldiers as he doesn’t want to return to the horrors. Commander Bolton shows us how a leader should act on the battle field, being prepared to wait for his men to be saved before himself. Farrier and Collins show us the risk from the air and just how dangerous this side of the battle. We might not learn too much about the characters backgrounds but we also don’t need to, this story is about the heroic story not what these men did before became soldiers.

PerformanceTom Hardy is easily the stand out star of this movie, but it does help that he plays the character with the most intense scenes. Cillian Murphy shows us once again he doesn’t need to be the main star of a movie to be the star and Mark Rylance follows up his recent war time Oscar win with another brilliant supporting performance. We also get to see Kenneth Branagh give us the great leader role. Extra praise must go to the unknown actors here too, Fionn Whitehead in the leading role, fantastic, Aneurin Barnard who I recently saw in a terrible horror film was also fantastic, Tom Glynn-Carney and jack Lowden both seem to shine next to Rylance throughout too. The biggest talking point about this film came in the casting of popstar Harry Styles, I have always defended this choice, and even the biggest haters of this ‘singer’ will be left applauding the guy who is wonderful in this role.

StoryThe story is known as one of Britain’s greatest rescue missions, when all hope looked lost the miracle that stop 400,000 soldiers being slaughter happened, yes, we do know the end of this story from the start. The story is split into 3 times, one covering a week, one covering a day and the other covering hours but this is designed to build up to the one moment showing the struggles the character’s involved must face. I believe this does reward by the end but at times could be difficult for some people to follow.

Action/History/WarThe action sequences are fantastic throughout the film, we don’t see the blood and gore of the war like in Saving Private Ryan or Hacksaw Ridge and for me that was good. The history of this war time event will live long in the memory of those involved and is easily one of Britain’s finest moments of unity.

SettingsEach setting looks fantastic and you can fully believe you are part of this war with these soldiers.

Special EffectsAll the effects are created to show us the stark reality of the war for the men involved, we don’t have anything going over the top which also helps.

Scene of the Movie – Spitfire over Dunkirk, this scene feels haunting throughout.

I always get annoyed by one thing in a movie, this is that moment I would say the scenes when Farrier is looking at the instruments in the cockpit, everything just went over my head there.

Final ThoughtsThis is the best British story from a World War II film that could stand on the same levels as Saving Private Ryan any day of the week.

 

Overall: Breath taking experience from start to finish.

Rating

 

 

War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)

Director: Matt Reeves

Writer: Mark Bomback, Matt Reeves (Screenplay) Pierre Boulle (Novel)

Starring: Andy Serkis, Judy Greer, Woody Harrelson, Steve Zahn, Ty Olsson, Amiah Miller, Sara Canning, Max Lloyd-Jones

 

Plot: After the apes suffer unimaginable losses, Caesar wrestles with his darker instincts and begins his own mythic quest to avenge his kind.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Blockbuster of the Year

 

Story: War for the Planet of the Apes starts as two years have passed after the events of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and Caesar (Serkis) has had his ape herd in hiding with the humans desperately searching to finish the job on the apes.

The conflict between the humans now led by The Colonel (Harrelson) and the apes has intensified and after Caesar is pushed past his limits of peace he sends the ape herd to safety and goes on his own mission with his three most trusted allies Maurice (Konoval) often the voice of reason, Rocket (Notary) who would fight to the death to save Caesar and Luca (Adamthwaite) who sees his own kind betraying the apes to work for the humans.

Without giving too much more away we see how Caesar searches to find an end to the war be it peaceful or not, so his herd can just live in peace instead of watching out for humans wanting to kill them.

 

Thoughts on War for the Planet of the Apes

 

Characters/PerformanceCaesar is the hero of the previous two films, he leads the apes, he wants peace between humans and apes but this time he is pushed two far as we see a darker side of Caesar come out. We get a full story arc for Caesar through the films now but his nature has always stayed true, protect the apes from humans. The Colonel is the villain of the piece, he wants to eliminate all apes and he will not blink in his methods, he does have plenty of twists to his story arc too. Maurice has been by the side of Caesar since Rise and still his voice of reason when making any decision, the heart this character shows also brings the human child along too. Bad Ape adds the only comedy to the movie, but we didn’t need to much either, Nova shows the consequences of the war that has now been raging for 17 years has had on the Earth. Rocket is the loyal soldier willing to die. We do have other characters that don’t get flushed out as much but otherwise they do all fit their role in the film.

Performance wise, Andy Serkis completes his third outing as Caesar and shows just how fantastic he is, give this man an Oscar nomination. Woody Harrelson is a great villain and easily the best human villain the trilogy has seen, I saw parts that reminded me of what Negan is like in the Walking Dead where he comes onto the screen gives a speech seemingly never blinking and having you just want to hear more from his. The rest of the motion capture cast are all brilliant too and the humans we see are good too.

StoryThe story does continue on the Planet of the Apes saga, we get to see how the end of the last film effected the world with the military ruthlessly hunting down the apes now. We get to see just how far Caesar could be pushed with his arc being told perfectly, the film does also go in a direction I wasn’t expecting which I did like too. If you have followed and enjoyed the first two this will feel like the bow on top of the packet it is that interesting of a story.

Action/Adventure/Sci-Fi/WarThe action sequences are tied in with the war side of the film as most are the elaborate battle sequences which all work and do something different on each battle. The adventure side of the film does suffer now though as we do get part adventure but in the end, we just fall into focusing on the other elements of the film. the sci-fi side of the film does show the future world that apes look to control.

SettingsThe settings bring another fresh look to the trilogy, first it was the big city, then it was the woods and the city now it is the mountain range with snow being added into the mix, the settings all work and look great through the film.

Special EffectsThe effects are brilliant, the motion capture is fantastic and this film shows just how to use special effects to their upmost.

Final ThoughtsThis has completed one of the best film trilogies of modern cinema, sure we could knit pick a couple of moments but otherwise the emotional rollercoaster you go on will leave you needing to take a breath by the end of the film.

 

Overall: Brilliant, stunning and the best modern cinema trilogy.

Rating

 

 

War Machine (2017)

Director: David Michod

Writer: David Michod (Screenplay) Michael Hastings (Book)

Starring: Brad Pitt, Anthony Hayes, John Magaro, Anthony Michael Hall, Emory Cohen, Topher Grace, Ben Kingsley, Scoot McNairy

 

Plot: An absurdist war story for our times, writer-director David Michôd (Animal Kingdom) recreates a U.S. General’s roller-coaster rise and fall as part reality, part savage parody – raising the specter of just where the line between them lies today. His is an exploration of a born leader’s ultra-confident march right into the dark heart of folly. At the story’s core is Brad Pitt’s sly take on a successful, charismatic four-star general who leapt in like a rock star to command NATO forces in Afghanistan, only to be taken down by a journalist’s no-holds-barred exposé.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Good War Comedy

 

Story: War Machine starts as highly respected and inspiration General Glen McMahon (Pitt) getting recruited to Afghanistan to see how the war is going over there, Glen brings his trusted men Pete Duckman (Hayes), Cory Staggart (Magaro), Greg Pulver (Hall), Willy Dunne (Cohen), Matt Little (Grace) and Andy Moon (Cyler) to bring the base together fixing the divide and keep the American side of the war happy back home.

We watch how Gen McMahon looks to recruit enough soldiers to make his plan to stop the problems happening in Afghanistan by using the counter insurgence tactics which have famously never worked before. Glen leads his close-knit group around Europe to find the rest of soldiers required from the allies of the United States as he continues his idea of peaceful removal of insurgence instead of just killing them.

 

Thoughts on War Machine

 

Characters/PerformanceGeneral Glen McMahon is assigned to Afghanistan to finish the war against the insurgence, he is respected and gets results by doing things his way. He wants to change things and make it feel like a war over a holiday image he sees it looking like. Greg Pulver is the loyalist man to Glen, he has been by his side from the start and is a loose cannon at times. The rest of the characters do all include the type of figures you would expect all getting the screen time required for the characters importance.

Performance wise, Brad Pitt is fantastic in this leading role showing us he can do comedy through a straight-faced role. Outside of Pitt it would be fair to say everybody else does a good job through this film fitting the chemistry required for the role.

StoryThe story is part parody and part light-hearted humour of how the war in Afghanistan could look like, more politics than conflict. We do also get the reality of war thrown at us and this shows us just what the problem with the war in Afghanistan. The story does feel long in places as this is two hours long but it is worth it for the reality check it gives.

Comedy/War The comedy comes from the reality check of how naïve the war in Afghanistan was, it’s not a laugh a minute it is a laugh of that was stupid wasn’t it. The war side of the film comes from trying to solve the problem without conflict.

SettingsEach setting looks good for the film and shows us just how this was for the soldiers would have come off comfortable for the soldiers over the previous wars.

Final ThoughtsThis is a comedy that is worth watching, it does have good moments on reality but it also has the moments that show how pointless the battle came off as.

 

Overall: One to watch.

Rating

 

 

Their Finest (2017)

Director: Lone Scherfig

Writer: Gaby Chiappe (Screenplay) Lissa Evans (Novel)

Starring: Gemma Arterton, Sam Claflin, Bill Nighy, Jack Huston, Paul Ritter, Rachael Stirling, Richard E Grant, Jeremy Irons

 

Plot: A former secretary, newly appointed as a scriptwriter for propaganda films, joins the cast and crew of a major production while the Blitz rages around them.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Charming War Time Story

 

Story: Their Finest starts in the middle of World War II England, Catrin Cole (Arterton) takes a job on what she thought was a secretary role but it turns out to be a scriptwriter role for propaganda films to show how important the women were during the war.

Getting hired with a story about twin women that help in the Dunkirk rescue, the film must go on with Tom Buckley (Claflin) leading the writing, it turns into a battle between the two to show the strength of the women instead of the male hero in film. Full of himself actor Ambrose Hilliard (Nighy) is hired to the film and continues the clash between the genders but can this film inspire the way it is meant to?

When the Secretary of War (Irons) hears about the film, he commissions the inclusion of an American to help sell the war effort to America and how the everyday person is willing to fight and now the film is ready to be shot.

 

Thoughts on Their Finest

 

Characters/PerformanceCatrin is a secretary who finds herself working on propaganda scripts during World War II. She makes an impact on the film making process by bring forward a story of two brave women who tried to help in Dunkirk. This is a strong minded leading lady who doesn’t want to let the men in her life control her. Tom Buckley is the lead scriptwriter that clashes with Catrin before seeing the potential in the story and offers the chance to be a love interest for Catrin through the movie making process. Ambrose Hilliard is the big-name actor the studio always goes for, he is reluctant to take the film offer but soon learns what he can offer the production.

Performance wise, Gemma Arterton is great in the leading role showing she can take the roles that are around the strong women characters. Sam Claflin is also great in his role getting away from the early career where I often wondered if he could be a leading star. Bill Nighy gets to have a lot of fun in his role where he also gets the serious moments down too.

StoryThe story of how the film world wanted to inspire people to continue the fight against the Germans during World War II, this side of the story I found very interesting, I did also like the idea of trying to show the importance of women during the war and just how this film being made was to show this. What I found slightly frustrating was what felt like the tagged in romance side of the film which at times felt very forced.

Comedy/Romance/WarThe comedy works to the levels they need to without being a laugh a moment, the romance side of the film as I previously said felt forced with the war side of the film being very important to see how the nation was being effected by the conflict.

SettingsThe settings show the Britain during World War II, we see the destruction aftermath from the bombings and the struggles the people went through during the war.

Final ThoughtsThis is one for all the history fans out there, we get to see how an idea of a movie could give people hope during a time where people could feel hopeless. The film making process has been done before and sure we can enjoy this side of everything but the strong minded leading woman is always going to be a draw as we keep looking back to see just how important they were during the war effort.

 

Overall: One for all the people that enjoy a good charming film.

Rating

 

 

Zulu (1964)

zluDirector: Cy Endfield

Writer: John Prebble, Cy Endfield (Screenplay) John Prebble (Article)

Starring: Stanley Baker, Jack Hawkins, Ula Jacobsson, James Booth, Michael Caine, Nigel Green

 

Plot: Outnumbered British soldiers do battle with Zulu warriors at Rorke’s Drift.

 

There may be spoilers the rest of the review

 

Verdict: Classic Story of Heroism

 

Story: Zulu starts as we see the aftermath of one of the Zulu warrior’s attacks on the British military post before we see how Otto Witt (Hawkins) and his daughter Margareta (Jacobsson) is trying to discuss peace. He learns that the Zulu warriors are about to attack the Rourke’s Drift post one of the strongest military posts the British have.

When Lieutenant Chard (Baker) arrives at Rourke’s Drift to help construct a bridge he clashes with LT Bromhead (Caine). As the Zulu approach the military post Chard and Bromhead clash on defensive techniques in what is the story of 4000 Zulu warriors against a mere 140 British soldiers in what is one of the most famous battles in military history.

 

Thoughts on Zulu

 

StoryThe story is easy to follow but when you look at history you are left to wonder (without doing research) why the British were at war with the Zulu’s in the first place. The story only shows one epic battle that the British actually won against what seemed like impossible odds at the time.

History/WarWhen you look through the history books we have seen the British have been involved in many wars but this one could well be one of the greatest victories against the odds in our military history.

Characters/PerformanceThe characters are based on the real men who were fighting in the battle of Rourke’s Drift in what is considered a battle for true heroism. The performances are all great throughout the film showing how organised the British soldiers once were when it came to battle for King and country.

SettingsLooking at the settings we see they used South Africa as the main setting which makes us understand the climate and condition the soldiers would have had to fight under.

Final ThoughtsThis will always be one of the classic war films that shows just how the British managed to overcome the impossible odds, we get to understand the military decisions being made throughout which makes this one of the greatest of all time.

 

Overall: Classic that will always be considered one of the greatest.

Ratingcard