Archives for posts with tag: Christopher Nolan

Grade B+

 

Near the beginning of WWII, hundreds of thousands of British soldiers and their allies were trapped by the German forces on the beaches of Dunkirk.  The ships to rescue the allied forces were few and far between, and those few that were sent were under attack from German bombers and U-boats.  The British, desperate to save at least a small portion of their trapped soldiers, decide to commandeer small, civilian boats to assist in the rescue.  This is the story of “Dunkirk.”

Told from three timelines that eventually intersect, “Dunkirk” will confuse the typical moviegoer who doesn’t fully pay attention.   One timeline starts a week before the civilian rescue; one timeline starts about a day before the civilian rescue; and the third timeline starts about one hour before the civilian rescue.   This is a complicated way of telling the story, but it is effective and absolutely necessary to keep the tension high throughout the movie and to get the audience emotionally invested in the major characters from the beginning.

Timeline one: Tom Hardy plays a British, Spitfire fighter pilot who flies to Dunkirk to engage German bombers and fighters.

Timeline two: Mark Rylance plays a civilian who takes his small boat to Dunkirk to save the soldiers trapped on the beach.

Timeline three: a young, British soldier spends days trying to escape Dunkirk in any way he can.

When I started seeing things that were familiar — the same parts of the movie told from different angles and with either more or less detail — even I was trying to figure out what was going on, but quickly figured out what Director Christopher Nolan was doing, and became very impressed with his choice of storytelling.

My most memorable, movie moment of “Dunkirk” was the scene when Hardy was still flying his plane that ran out of gas, providing air cover for the soldiers below him.

This movie would have been given an A rating had it not been for the confusing ending.  **SPOILER ALERT** Why did Hardy fly so far away from the British soldiers to land his plane, leading to his capture by the Germans?  Why not glide to an open spot on the beach close to the British?  I understand there were still tens of thousands of allied soldiers on the beach and he didn’t want to hit any of them as he landed, but come on!  Are you telling me the soldiers on the beach wouldn’t have gotten out of the way?  I am guessing Nolan wanted a dramatic ending — and it was dramatic — but that drama was ruined because it made no sense to me.  What better way to up the morale of the British and French troops by safely landing on the beach after downing several fighters and bombers despite being low on fuel and actually running out of fuel?  This man’s a hero!  Still killing the enemy with a fighter plane that ran out of fuel!  Still protecting his fellow soldiers as he glides over the beaches and shores!  And then he…keeps gliding far away from the allied troops and lands where the Germans are.   Huh? What?  Are you kidding?  Sorry, Nolan, you made a bad choice.

— M

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In this third Christian Bale, Batman movie, Gotham City’s Dark Knight (played by Bale) has not made an appearance in years because Bruce Wayne’s/Batman’s body and soul have been worn out from years of fighting crime and being hunted by the police.  Bale is just fine being a recluse and nursing his physical and psychological wounds as cops handle Gotham City’s criminal elements — until a new threat arrives: Bane (played by Tom Hardy).   Using new gadgets that add strength to his weakened body, Bale suits up again and goes toe to toe against Hardy.  The fight goes horribly wrong for Bale, as he underestimates the power and skill and determination that Hardy has; and Bale finds himself in a seemingly hopeless situation as Hardy proceeds with his plan to destroy Gotham City.

Director and screenwriter Christopher Nolan has given us another dark, deep and disturbing work of art in “The Dark Knight Rises.”  The movie explores subjects such as: corruption in the police force; lying for the public good, and how the lies can quickly get out of hand and become worse than telling the truth in the first place; the need to leave a loved one because the loved one’s self-destructive lifestyle will do harm to those around him; finding in yourself the strength and purpose to rise out of a literal and figurative pit; and how much of yourself are you willing to sacrifice in order to achieve your goals.

In this movie, we get to see a few new toys in Batman’s arsenal.   The most interesting is what I think is called The Wing, basically a hovercraft.  And there is the handheld, Electro Magnetic Pulse gun that will destroy the electronics in any device.   And yes, Batman still doesn’t use a gun.  He has cannons that can demolish buildings, but he uses no guns.  Why? Because his parents were killed by guns.  This has always been a problem I had with the Batman character, and why he isn’t one of my favorite comic book characters.  In the comic books, Batman is always saying that guns are for weak, cowardly criminals.   Hey, a gun is a tool.  It can be used for good or bad.   And we know Batman has lots of tools (gadgets) that he uses.  Does that make him weak and cowardly, or crafty and intelligent?  You use what you can to get the job done.  If his parents were killed by someone using a knife, would Batman not use any blade in his arsenal, and instead use guns?

Guns or no guns, Batman doesn’t make an appearance until almost halfway into the movie.  I’m sure Nolan got an earful from studio execs about that one.  But I believe Nolan did the right thing.  It allows the audience to be on pins and needles waiting for Batman to show up, and when he does finally show, it makes the experience more rewarding.  Like waiting until you’re very hungry to eat your favorite food.  Nolan defied Hollywood convention in not showing the costumed hero until much later in the movie, and it paid off handsomely.

I have two memorable, movie moments from “The Dark Knight Rises.”  In second place — SPOILER ALERT HERE — is the last shot of the movie when Gotham Police Officer Blake goes into the Batcave, and steps onto a platform that quickly rises to reveal all that is within.  Oh, Officer Blake’s first name is Robin.

My most memorable, movie moment of “The Dark Knight Rises” is the scene where Michael Caine (who plays Alfred) is telling Bale that he is leaving because he refuses to watch Bale continue to fight crime as Batman and most likely end up being killed.  Caine tells Bale that Bale has done enough as Batman, and that he can help Gotham better as Bruce Wayne.  Caine sees no end to Bale’s crime fighting as Batman if he doesn’t stop at this moment, and the pain of seeing Bale waste his life on his nightly crusades is too much for Caine to bear.  This is the most powerful scene in the movie, dealing with wanting and needing to leave someone you love very much because you can no longer take seeing that person continue with his/her obsession that you know will ultimately lead to that person’s destruction.  For those who have never been in that situation you won’t understand Caine’s decision to leave.  You’ll think that Caine should have just stuck it out and help Bale do what he needed to do.  For those who have been in this situation, you’ll understand the pain that Caine is dealing with; and know that he is leaving only because Caine has reached his emotional breaking point that will manifest itself into some physical sickness if he stays.  Sometimes you have to let people go and let them do what they have to do.

“The Dark Knight Rises” is an entertaining and emotionally satisfying ending to the Nolan/Bale Batman trilogy, worthy of being bought on BD to add to your collection of great movies. Of course, the very last shot offers hints of more to come.  Typical of big budget, profitable, Hollywood movies: a little hedge in case another movie is greenlit; but if not, then the last movie stands on its own as a great ending.

M

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