Christopher Nolan’s World War II epic Dunkirk is currently at 98 percent on critic aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, the highest mark to date for the acclaimed writer-director to date. Opening in theaters Friday, Dunkirk is the 10th feature film directed by Nolan, who garnered critical acclaim and a Best Original Screenplay nomination for his second film, the mindbending crime thriller Memento in 2000.
Since that point, the auteur has consistently delivered films that have enthralled both audiences and reviewers, with the high point coming in 2008 when his second Batman film The Dark Knight scored more than $533 million at the domestic box office and a stunning 94 percent “fresh” score from Rotten Tomatoes.
Nine years after hitting his critical high mark with The Dark Knight, Dunkirk appears to be primed to take over the coveted spot of Nolan’s best-reviewed film to date. As of Monday night, Rotten Tomatoes had the film ranked with an astounding 98 percent “fresh” rating with 40 reviews counted. Scoring stellar reviews from the likes of Variety, The Wrap, and EW, Dunkirk as of this writing, has 39 “fresh” reviews and one “rotten” review.
The review, from Compuserve, was given a grade of C by critic Harvey S. Karten, “Dunkirk lacks an overriding theme that could get the audience cheering or even a single thrill that could knock them out of their seats.” The critic also takes issue with Nolan’s non-linear storytelling sensibilities for the film, which is told from three different perspectives — from the air, the land, and the sea.
Of course, one fair to negative review isn’t going to derail Dunkirk, considering that Nolan’s last film, the sprawling 2014 space tale Interstellar, ended up with a 71 percent score on Rotten Tomatoes (Nolan’s lowest rating out of his first nine films) yet earned $158.8 million domestically. For the most part, Nolan’s films land Rotten Tomatoes aggregate scores in the 80 to low-90 percent range. Memento and Insomnia, for example, each earned “fresh” scores of 92 percent, while Batman Begins, Inception, and The Dark Knight Rises scored ratings of 84, 86 and 87 percent, respectively. On the lower end, Nolan’s The Prestige had a final rating of 76 percent, and his debut film Following, in 1999, had a 78 percent rating.
Since 316 critics weighed in on Interstellar, Dunkirk clearly has a long way to go before the film locks in its final Rotten Tomatoes rating. And while it will more than likely drop from its current 98 percent rating, there’s no question that it’s starting off with enough momentum to be certified “fresh” when enough reviews are counted. Whether the positive reviews for Dunkirk will actually equate into a lucrative box office is yet to be seen, especially since early estimates peg the film to open in the neighborhood of $30 million to $40 million at the box office this weekend.
And while those numbers are far lower than your average summer movie opening, accountants at Warner Bros. most likely won’t be sweating it. After all, the positive reaction from critics will go a long way come fall when critics start laying the foundation for awards season with their annual honors.
Source: Rotten Tomatoes
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