Brittany Runs a Marathon
John Wick: Chapter 3 - Parabellum
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The musical scores, from none other than soundtrack master Hans Zimmer, fit the narrative and history like a glove. The heart-piercing screeches of the German Luftwaffe planes that descend on the British and French soldiers stranded on the beach are complimented with Zimmer's notes that could easily pass for rolling bouts of thunder. The Luftwaffe's appearances and Zimmer's music coalesce to make for thrilling and breathless viewing, as the viewing audience take a sharp intake of breath, as these intense sequences play out in front of us. The focus on the wailing of planes, gunfire and bombings contrasts with the lack of dialogue, which combines to fully immerse the audience in to the evacuation of Dunkirk. Nolan has created an unparalleled depiction of the scale of the Dunkirk evacuation. The nearest comparable offering on this subject is one scene in Joe Wright's Atonement. The focus is very much on Robbie's (James MacAvoy) vision of Dunkirk, in particularly the wounded and the stranded soldiers. The scale of the evacuation operation is not the focus, the characters' mindset is. Another film that Dunkirk will inevitably be compared to is Spielberg's classic, Saving Private Ryan. That had the most realistic and awesome opening in war drama film-making history, and it's authenticity, narrative and drama has ensured it's place in film history, and rightly so. Dunkirk is now a close second for me in the war epic genre- it's spectacle and scale is the best ever, but one thing holds it back from film immortality...
Despite the masterful epic that Nolan that he created, the one thing that it lacked was the personal touch. Spectacle took centre stage, and the characters' narrative took a backseat as we were given very little information about Whitehead, Hardy and Rylance's characters, something that Saving Private Ryan does especially well with Hanks et al, regardless of the magnitude of the war's spectacle. At one hour fifty, Dunkirk is one of Nolan's shortest films, and I just wonder if he were to include some more character narrative that takes it past the two hour mark, Dunkirk could have been faultless. Whitehead is seen as a frame of reference in terms of main characters, so perhaps he could have received more coverage in order to eke out the personal touch that the film lacked.
Nevertheless, Nolan's direction is fantastic. He has organised his epic through non-linear storytelling and with viewpoints from The Mole (land), The Sea and The Air, he has managed to create a unique way of displaying the conflict in its entirety. Is this the modern pinnacle of on-screen spectacle? I think it is! 6,000 extras, authentic Second World War vehicles, shooting at Dunkirk in Northern France, just ten kilometres from the Belgian border contributes to the immense sense of scale. Nolan bucks against the over-the-top CGI trend that has plagued the recent major blockbusters, and thank goodness he does as the realism he achieves in shunning CGI effects contributes to its wonderful authenticity. The cinematography, that has a great chance of achieving awards success, is exceptional. We are treated to sweeping scenes of Dunkirk beach and we gaze in awe at the thousands beyond thousands of soldiers waiting for a miracle. And then our insides twist and turn as the claustrophobic scenes aboard sinking vessels are portrayed so realistically that we could be aboard the doomed ships along with the soldiers fighting for their lives.
The first of two moments that have stayed with me long after watching the film were the sight of the thousands upon thousands of ships that sailed from England to rescue the soldiers stranded on the beach. It was spine-tingling and it definitely brought a tear of pride in regard to the humanity and bravery they displayed. Churchill aimed to get 30,000 troops back from Dunkirk- and due to the courageous Brits at home, he got 300,000. The soldiers that made up the 300,000 consisted of not only British troops, but French, Dutch and Belgian troops too. The second spine-tingling moment was the roar from the soldiers in response to Spitfire pilot Farrier (Hardy) downing a Luftwaffe that was bearing down on the beach. That brought the hairs on the back of my neck up. It was a sensational piece of drama.
Dunkirk is Nolan's best shot at Oscar glory yet. The film is a thrilling education in one of the most famous conflicts of the Second World War, covering the fight for survival on the land, on the seas and in the air. The authenticity shines through in every detail, from a pilot's shell-shock, to the relentless action, deathly silences and the sense of impending doom that plagues the soldiers. A thrilling, intense and epic war drama.
* This review will not contain any 'wonder' or 'wonderful' puns!*
Diana, she's not referred as Wonder Woman in the film, is introduced as a magical child formed from clay and Zeus' thunderbolt, who lives on Themyscira with the Amazons. She is pure of spirit, a pacifist and a warrior. Jenkins directs the origin story admirably, with scenes which displayed her personality and inherent traits that would become the essence of who she is and what she stands for. She was created as mankind's hope to defeat Ares, who Zeus feared would return to wreak havoc on mankind. Despite her noble heritage and exhaustive training as an Amazonian warrior, she is isolated from mankind. That changes when American airman, Steve Trevor (Chris Pine, Star Trek) crashes into her world, with a German fleet in hot pursuit of him. His arrival unwittingly brings Diana the news of the war to end all wars, and thus, she is determined to see that this war comes to a peaceful end, by the death of Ares, who she firmly believes is responsible for the First World War.
Steve's mission is to deliver a notebook belonging to Germany's 'Poison Doctor', who is producing a gas that would kill thousands upon thousands of soldiers and civilians, which would ultimately destroy the impending armistice agreement. Persuaded that his cause is just, Diana joins him to London to deliver the notebook, and to begin her quest to seek out Ares and defeat him.
Set during the First World War, Jenkins is able to push forward important themes like female empowerment and standing against oppression. Gadot's Diana is the perfect embodiment of those two themes. Her performance betters those given by her DC comrades Savill's Superman and Affleck's Batman, especially given that her character is seen as a hero with moral fibre and wisdom, along with the warrior staple that other superheroes have. The fighting scenes were excellently crafted, from the use of slow-motion cinematography, to the brief inclusions of the WW soundtrack. Jenkins and Gadot have done and hopefully will do, outstanding work concerning Diana, her story and her heroic deeds. Gadot delivers a stunning performance as the heroic Diana, one with poise, strength and love.
Wonder Woman fulfills the heroic demands of this demanding genre, but it also tells a tale of the fight for women's rights, as well as showcasing the meaningless of mankind's obsession with warfare. Both of these issues are still continuing in the modern day, which could be construed as a potential message to (male) leaders across the world, to show them how far, or short, things have progressed since the First World War. Not only does Wonder Woman deliver on the dramatic content and terrific story, it also has underlying substance that elevates it above most films within this every-growing genre.
My favourite comic book films are, The Dark Knight (The Nolan-Bale trilogy is in a league of its own), followed by Deadpool, The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy. Wonder Woman is in that company. The well constructed origin story, fantastic plot, competent supporting cast, decent script, and of course, the powerhouse performance by Gadot, all contributed to a unwavering, and brilliant film. Despite the lacklustre Man of Steel and Batman Vs Superman films, the fact that this film has performed excellently at the box office, with critics and most importantly with the fans, has heightened my expectations for the Justice League film. A truly wonderful experience. Damn!
"An insane general triggers a path to nuclear holocaust that a war room full of politicians and generals frantically try to stop."
My first introduction to Dr. Strangelove was during a university module on 'Philosophy in Film'. My lecturer regaled how magnificent a comedy it was, the wittiness, the characters and the underlying or overt messages that Kubrick was imparting on the viewer. I understood it all, but this 'dark comedy' did not make me laugh...it only raised a smile. Maybe I had become over-sensitised with all the jokes during my classes and that affected my viewing of this film this time round? This viewing was a bit...underwhelming.