Movie Review: Dunkirk

Contains Spoliers. dunkirkHaving received high praise from critics and reviews, I went in expecting a lot. From a story telling angle, I was curious how they were going to make what is essentially a (necessary) retreat into a compelling story.

The first seconds of the film are great scene setting: a squad of soldiers is walking through empty streets. All of a sudden they come under fire and flee. One by one the men are shot as they run; a single soldier manages to escape. Within seconds the audience is imbued with a sense of loss, loneliness and the nearness of danger.

The cinematography was good, and I agree the story line showed the spectrum of human responses of justifiable fear and bravery. The use of sound – and absence of – was great. (I must be getting old, because the volume it was played at in the cinemas was actually a detraction from my enjoyment. I think this is a trend in all the movies I have seen lately. Logan was so loud the sound was actually distorted).

It was only later that night I worked out the time scales in the movie. Early on it shows “Land: 1 week”, “Sea: 1 day” and “Air: 1 hour”. I take it to the mean that the story is a blending of those three timescales, given that the airforce pilots were ordered to fly low “to allow 40 minutes ‘fighting time’ over the beaches”. This is not made particularly clear to the audience, probably to not hamper their experience.

It also had no blood (or very little), which was interesting. I can only assume that was a conscious decision to avoid so-called “war porn”, and focus on the story instead of the brutality.

I’d summarise it as a worthwhile representation of Dunkirk. As a movie though, I didn’t find it particularly engaging. I wasn’t emotionally invested in any of the characters or their plight. It’s certainly not a movie I would re-watch any time soon (in contrast to Hacksaw Ridge or Enemy at the Gates). I’ve give it a 7 out of 10.

Guardians of the Galaxy #2

Recently a new friend asked what my favourite movie was and I couldn’t answer. There are lots of movies that I enjoy and some I hate, but I can’t name a favourite.

I can easily name my wife’s favourite movies. It doesn’t take a genius-level of observation to realise if she watches the same movie back-to-back for an entire day that she likes it. I have no such movie stuck on loop.

The other possible metric is how often I’ve watched a movie, which brings me to the original Guardians of the Galaxy. I’d seen the promos and, thinking it was a sci-fi, thought it looked lame. When I eventually watched it with the mindset of not sci-fi but just a fun movie I found that I really enjoyed it. It didn’t take itself seriously, was quite funny and I can honestly say I’ve never seen a villain stalled by a “dance off” before. Over the years whenever the opportunity presented itself I’ve watched it (probably six times in total).

Recently I went to see Guardians of the Galaxy 2. Unwisely, I went in with high expectations.

The jokes seemed forced and were often predictable (not to mention considerably cruder than I remember #1 being).

And the ending… minor character dies (bad guy choosing to be heroic) and is cremated. Estranged friends arrive for a final farewell and put on a fireworks display. It might have been emotional and touching if it wasn’t completely corny.

And of course to add to the cheese the ending wouldn’t be complete without the lovers making up, the two feuding friends having peace and the delinquent’s behaviour understood.

The one shining light (other than the little dancing Groot, of course) was the basic premise: boy finally finds father, only to discover father is the villain.

My judgement: wait for TV. And only then, if you’re really, really hard-pressed to find something else.

My Version of Logan

Earlier I wrote about how, in contradiction to the masses, I didn’t like the movie Logan because of its ultra-violence and the general sense of depression.

Reader Sabretooth commented on my blog and got me thinking more about Logan. In a flash of inspiration I came up with an alternative plot that was so good, it deserved more than to be buried in the comments section…hence this post.

Now I’ve heard that the plot was based on a storyline called “Old Man Logan”. I’m putting that aside entirely. What if this was the alternative plot was something like this:

Act 1: We see Logan, Professor X and the other mutant-sniffer (sorry whoever you are) trying to rescue other mutants who are being hunted down by a band of humans armed with Stark-like technologies. The good guys fail; the humans manage to capture/kill the mutants (which fits the story line of mutants being ‘eradicated’). The sniffer dies and we see Professor X starting to succumb to neurological issues but convincing Logan of the importance of ‘carrying on their work’: the mutants must be saved.

Act 2: 20 years on, Logan is still searching for mutants to save but they’re pretty much all gone. Professor X is unwell more often than not, and Logan has spent a long time alone. Logan hears about a group of young mutants and goes to save them, but he is put in a bind: the bad guys have them trapped. He can save the young mutants, or a incapacitated Professor X, but not both. At Professor X’s direction, Logan reluctantly saves the kids.

Act 3: Logan and the kids grow to be fond of one another as Logan gets the kids to a safe location. I can’t understate how important it is to sell this to the audience. Logan does it for the kids, he does it for the Professor. Maybe Laura is a lab-created Logan+Jean Gray mix and he has real paternal feelings for her? For whatever reason, the audience needs to be SOLD on the relational bond between kids and mentor.

Act 4: Logan, while away from the kids is captured by the bad guys. (Why he’s away doesn’t matter too much, but I’m sure a good reason could be found. Maybe the bad guys lead him into a trap by pretending the Professor is still alive). Logan is shot with some kind of injection which weakens him temporarily, but not for long. Logan does what an angry, indestructible, Adamantium-infused guy does. Naturally he escapes the bad guys and heads back to the kids. Somehow (I haven’t solved all the problems for you: perhaps on the way out of the facility) Logan realises that he’s been given an injection of nanobots that have bonded to his Adamantium and allow him to be tracked. Bonded to him, they can’t be removed.

Logan, tragically realises that in order to save the kids, he must never see them again. Cue: Huge Jackman’s manly tears here.

This alternative plot line would allow Logan to be sad at the passing of a friend, heroic in saving the kids and ultimately heroic in accepting isolation. He can pass into the horizon and obscurity (effectively dead), without dying. The story of Logan could end more poignantly, and doesn’t require his death.

What do you think?

Movie Review: Logan

As someone who grew up watching the x-men cartoons, probably long after it was age-respectable, I really like the x-men. And it almost goes without saying that Wolverine is my favourite. (It doesn’t hurt that the bladed-fury has most recently been played by fellow Aussie, Huge Jackman, who is a skillful singer/actor and all-round nice guy). I love the super powers of the mutants and their heroic struggles in a world where literally anything is possible.

According to the review sites the latest Marvel offering Logan is quite popular with audiences. Not with this reviewer, and I’ll tell you why.

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