Chris Nolan has a pretty successful track record of hit movies. I now wish I had seen all of the Batman films in the theater. Inception and Interstellar were mind trips on the big screen.
Dunkirk is his first foray into historic events and quite a good one at that. I never learned about the Dunkirk evacuation in high school or college history classes. WWII in general history classes was a summary of major events and not all that informative.
So Dunkirk the movie was an ambitious big budget movie that intentionally does not resemble most war movies. It is more of a docudrama than a feature. Dialogue is kept to a minimum. The sound design was the best part, especially the bullets hitting metal, I jumped out of my seat a few times. Nolan is known for practical effects work and used actual airplanes, ships and 6,000 extras.
Also it was filmed on the actual beach where the events happened.
I have not read any reviews or criticism though I'm sure there will be some as you just can't please everyone.
Overall I would say Dunkirk was a bit slow at times and maybe not for everyone, but an important entry in the cinematic catalog of WWII films along with Saving Private Ryan, Schindler's List, The Longest Day and Band of Brothers. See it in the theater before it goes to DVD next week.
I liked Dunkirk a lot. I thought it was an interesting way to do a WWII movie without it just being the sprawling epic journey that most war movies are. It felt very self contained (in a good way). It started in the middle, and it didn't even have a full resolution.
It was the smarmy indie movie version of a WWII story, only it *also* had the budget of a blockbuster WWII movie. That could be a turn off for some people, for sure. But I dug it.
I would also recommend that if you plan to see this at all, see it in theaters for the sound design alone. I can almost guarantee it will win Oscars for Sound Design and Sound Mixing. Possibly cinematography and editing as well.
I really liked this movie and I'm glad I was able to see it on the IMAX before it was too late. I really liked how they structured the story, I can't get into it because it will ruin part of the movie. It had very little dialogue and that didn't bother me at all. If you haven't seen it yet race to the IMAX before it is gone.
On a side note, the theater I was in had a trailer for a Marvel TV show called the In Humans. That felt out of place.