DUNKIRK Blu-ray Review
During WWII in 1940, the Germans pushed Allied forces back to an French town called Dunkirk. There were somewhere around 400,000 soldiers who needed to be transport out of danger and the Navy commissioned civilian ships from Dover to help. They are separated by the English Channel and every effort to leave has been thwarted by the Axis.
Tommy is a private in the British army who is trying to find any possible way to get leave and he is beginning to get more creative as the time passes. Above him, an RAF squadron of Spitfires has been sent to fend off German bombers and fighters who are trying to pick off the soldiers on the foamy shores. Tired, hungry, and scared, the hundreds of thousands of soldiers have to wait to either be killed or saved.
DUNKIRK is written and directed by Christopher Nolan. This is his first time doing a war film and it is such an amazing experience. It shows that he really could pick a genre out of his hat and make a knockout film. Like INTERSTELLAR before this, Nolan shows that a filmmaker doesn’t have to be typecast as a director of a certain genre but that he can make a good film no matter the subject. It’s a gift that few directors have but like Steven Spielberg, Nolan’s movies are superb.
In DUNKIRK, there is this calm in the opening that relaxes you when the soldiers search for supplies until the first snap of a rifle firing on the British troops. The film gives the audience some relief and a false sense that everything is ok and BAM!, something happens. In true Nolan fashion, he chose an interesting way to tell the story with the different “settings” having their own point in time to bring the whole ordeal together in something resembling real-time.
As far as the acting and casting, I don’t think that there is a single actor who seems out of place. There are a few newcomers mixed in with the seasoned actors. In no real order, you have Tom Hardy, Cillian Murphy, Fionn Whitehead, Mark Rylance, Kenneth Branagh, Harry Styles, and Barry Keoghan. A few have worked with Nolan in the past but everyone feels like they have given their all to make this film incredible. What I mean is that there is passion, pain, sadness and fear. This mix of emotions is what makes the experience more visceral and even terrifying at times. Saying that, I hope his next venture is a real horror movie.
Fionn Whitehead – Tommy, a British Army private
Tom Glynn-Carney – Peter
Jack Lowden – Collins, an RAF Spitfire pilot
Harry Styles – Alex
Aneurin Barnard – Gibson
James D’Arcy – Colonel Winnant
Barry Keoghan – George Mills
Kenneth Branagh – Commander Bolton
Cillian Murphy – The Shell-shocked officer
Mark Rylance – Mr. Dawson
Tom Hardy – Farrier, an RAF Spitfire pilot
The video is a 1080p AVC presentation that is outstanding. 70% of the film is in the IMAX format so you get the aspect ratio changes on screen when it changes between the formats. This change is the same thing that happens in INTERSTELLAR and THE DARK KNIGHT. I never really found it distracting and because there is so much more IMAX time, that the switches are fairly quick. The detailing in the shots are on point with the fabrics on the tattered and worn uniforms show the weathering.
The details of people’s faces also makes the situation of the characters feel more realistic. There is grime on the soldier’s faces that gives them the look like they have gone through the ringer. Other clear details can be seen in the cockpit of the plane with the gauges easy to read and like the uniforms, they look like they have real-world weathering.
The coloring is a little muted which doesn’t make very much bright. It helps create the mood and age of the situation. The brightest thing on the screen is the reds of the explosions or the blue of some of the parts of the channel. Almost everyone onscreen has skin tones that look somewhat pale and completely drained of color but completely on purpose. All in all, this is one of the best Blu-ray presentations I’ve seen in a long time.
The audio is a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 that has been approved by Nolan to give the experience that he is looking for in a home theater. I’m a little surprised that the audio isn’t something a bit newer like DTS:x or Dolby Atmos. That being said, I feel like the audio is at reference level. There is never a time where I feel like the audio is bad or not realistic. As I mentioned, that first snap of the bullets in the opening scene have movements from back to front and crosses the sound field from the echoes. The highs are very clear and the LFEs pound when they are used. The people’s voices come through clearly and sound very natural. They are layered over the score and effects. The only time that there is ever an issue is with the pilots communicating to each other, sometimes it is very hard to understand them. To be fair, that does make it more realistic with the communications not being as good in the air as on the ground during the war. The best word that I can use to sum it up is immersive. As you’re following these characters around, you get the same sense of urgency that they’re experiencing in each situation.
SUPPLEMENTS & PACKAGING
The featurettes on the disc are broken down into categories and then subcategories. This makes it easy to follow if there is a particular aspect that you are looking to learn about from the film.
Revisiting the Miracle
Expanding the Frame
The In Camera Approach
Rebuilding the Mole
The Army on the Beach
Taking to the Air
Inside the Cockpit
Assembling the Naval Fleet
Launching the Moonstone
Taking to the Sea
Sinking the Ships
The Little Ships
Turning Up the Tension
The Dunkirk Spirit
-US Coast Guard Promo
3-disc set w/ 2 Blu-rays and 1 DVD
1080p AVC MPEG-4
Aspect ratio: 1.78:1 / 2.20:1
English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
English Dolby Digital 5.1
THE BOTTOM LINE:
This is another superb film by Christopher Nolan. He is able to have this riveting movie and does something that you might not notice until the credits roll: (don’t worry, this doesn’t fall into spoiler territory because that isn’t how I do business) none of the characters have what you would call typical story arcs. He keeps the focus on the event rather than building backgrounds about the inconsequential people in this situation. If you really think about it, the characters are the different areas i.e. The Mole, The Sea, and The Air. Those are the moments that build and change.
The Blu-ray itself has reference quality video and audio with beautifully filmed scenes in IMAX. The extras are extensive and can make you appreciate the gorgeous cinematography. This is a release that I highly recommend picking up and giving your home theater a real workout whether on Blu-ray or 4k UHD.