You'd be forgiven for feeling bombarded by all the chatter surrounding Dunkirk, the new World War II film from director Christopher Nolan.

First, there was the blitzkrieg of advertisements that dropped in the past week or so. Unless the movie had already been on your radar Dunkirk simply appeared out of nowhere in a shock and awe campaign that made it impossible to miss.

It's a good thing the posters and print ads looked pretty good. Old school fighter planes, expansive blue skies, dinky sail boats. And, of course, Nolan's name topping the bill. As sure a sign of cinematic quality as you're gonna get these days.

There was enough going on to make you look to see when was it screening and then splutter some unprintables upon seeing that it was in cinemas now. This was no slow burn awareness campaign. It was red alert, all systems go.


The days of dawdling to the cinema at your leisure are long gone. You've got two, maybe three weeks, tops to "get around" to seeing a film before it's shunted into inaccessible and unloved time slots or pulled off screens altogether.

Phase two of the bombardment has been the barrage of overwhelmingly positive reviews in the last couple of days. You can't walk into a sign for Dunkirk without tripping over some glowing words about Dunkirk.

Really, it's enough to put you off. Don't let it. If you have even the slightest interest in cinema you should go and see Dunkirk.

Preferably on the biggest screen with the loudest sound system you can find.

If you can't make it to a cinema - maybe your car's in the shop, you don't get paid until the end of the month or you've misplaced your shoes - then don't ever bother watching Dunkirk. It's now or never. Seriously.

This is a big screen movie in the truest sense of the word. It's a proper cinema experience that simply cannot be replicated in the comfort of your own home. Just forget about it and don't waste your time.

Most films lose power scaling down to the small screen, but action films fare especially badly in the transition from the movies to the home.

Dunkirk is the first film since 2013's equally awesome space adventure Gravity that needs to be seen in the cinema. Like Gravity, Dunkirk is largely driven by its brilliantly realised visuals and its adrenaline-pumping, brutally intense action.

Nolan's war film, gritty and awfully realistic, however is much more accomplished than that Sandra Bullock-led space flick. For starters it's all setpiece. Right from the very start it's full-on and unrelenting. The brief downtime is there only for quick exposition dumps and to allow you to wipe the sweat from your brow. Things get intense quick and do not let up.

The sound design is especially tremendous and appropriately dreadful. An awful, high-pitched roar, like a flood of wasps, fills the cinema before revealing itself as the engine noise of attacking bombers. Every time it happens - and it happens a lot - is nervy and terrible.

Then there's the cinema's subwoofers, which work overtime. A pounding bass beat matches your heart rate before speeding up as the action intensifies, dragging your nerves and heart rate along with it. It's a powerful trick. Leaving the iMax cinema I heard more than one group of people discussing how drained they felt.

This, then, is true movie magic. Dunkirk puts you right there in the cockpit as a cagey, high-stakes game of cat and mouse plays out between enemy fighter pilots. You feel under fire and confused when unseen forces ambush the heroes. You are right there, trapped and helpless, as the endless waters of the English Channel claim the lives of countless soldiers as they futilely struggle for air.

That Dunkirk puts you right there without the need for 3D glasses is even more impressive.

To be sure there are things wrong with Dunkirk - Nolan's love of time-shifting does him no favours here, the scale of the flotilla seems well off and there's a few moments of cheese - but it's churlish to dwell on them when the film is so genuinely and physically affecting.

Dunkirk is drowning in well-deserved five-star reviews. In six months from now, when the Blu-ray comes out and it hits iTunes, you'll start to see that perfect high score be dragged down by people rating and watching this cinematic experience on their TV.

They won't be wrong. At home Dunkirk will not be a good movie. Right now, however, it's unmissable.