The tension-filled war thriller from Christopher Nolan, Dunkirk, has arrived on blu-ray, but is it worth your time and money to pick up? Check out my full review to find out.
As the title implies, the film tells the true story of the British retreat at Dunkirk and the herculean efforts of the community to bring those soldiers home when all seemed lost. The movie presents its story from three different perspectives (and time periods); one of a soldier stuck on the beach and desperately trying to get out, a civilian boatman who answers the call to travel across the channel to help with the rescue, and a fighter pilot out to provide air support.
While each of these perspectives take place at different time periods of the evacuation, it really isn’t all that difficult to keep up with, and seeing how they ultimate converge adds a great deal of tension and sense of accomplishment; having you cheering right alongside the soldiers. It’s a unique way to the tell the story, and something Nolan uses wonderfully to play on your own emotions throughout.
It’s not your typical war film, providing more of a ‘slice of life’ perspective on this one specific aspect of World War II. Deaths for characters happen suddenly (as typically does in war), giving you little time to reflect or grieve before it thrusts you forward. While there’s no major battle being fought, the sheer amount of tension (and ultimate relief) packed into the film is impressive.
Seriously, throughout the entire thing, I was on the edge of my seat, wondering what was going to happen next, and how it would all play out. Despite learning nothing about the primary characters other than what’s going on within the movie, it’s easy to become attached to them and the struggles they’re facing. It’s bizarre, but I can barely recall their names, yet still feel they’re among Christopher Nolan’s best character work. Long after the credits have rolled (and watching other films) I’m still thinking about what happened to them next.
Sight and Sound
Nolan has always been a stickler about viewing films in the biggest and best way possible. This continued (and expanded) with Dunkirk, and so much of it’s promotion being about seeing it large in IMAX and in 70mm where possible. Obviously, there’s no way to replicate that with your home entertainment setup, but the blu-ray transfer Warner Bros. has done for the flick is impressive nonetheless.
The image is sharp, with every fine detail (from the grain of sands on the beach in their uniforms, to the tiny silhouette of soldiers on the beach in the super long shots) presented in great clarity. Despite having a more muted color pallet, with plenty of grays, darks, and neutral tones, nothing in the frame feels boring or washed out. The crystal clear image makes everything stand out in its own way, while the blacks are deep enough to ensure nothing gets lost.
The sound design on the film was very important. There’s not much dialog in the Dunkirk, and much of the story is conveyed through the action taking place on screen. As such, the sound design had to be perfect to make sure the story moved forward. Here the surround sound makes the story come to life, as bullets tear through the sky and seemingly whipping by your head.
Between the great sound and picture transfer, the blu-ray for Dunkirk is a very immersive experience. While it may not be the super, duper, mega screen Nolan wanted you to see it on, it’s a high quality blu-ray release.
The Special Features
Dunkirk comes with a number of special features loaded onto a separate dedicated disc. This is something Warner Bros. doesn’t normally do, but in this case they wanted to make sure as much space as possible was available on the disc for the movie.
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
Other: Coast Guard Promo
The series of featurettes are broken down into five different chapters that cover everything from the idea of the movie all the way through to post-production. You’re treated to a look at how the filmmakers took such care in recreating the setting, and the fine details behind everything.
When you watch all the featurettes together, you end up with an in depth behind the scenes documentary that’s actually longer than the film itself! In all, it's a great look behind the scenes and how they recreated everything with such historical accuracy.
An Impressive Film, Regardless of the Screen Size
Sure, you may have missed out on Dunkirk in 70mm when it arrived in theaters, but it's no less impressive on your TV at home on blu-ray. The transfer quality is amazing, putting you right in the middle of the intense action unfolding, while the special features offer up plenty for movie, and history, buffs to enjoy.