Media reviews from August 17, 2017

Media reviews from August 17, 2017

Dunkirk (PG-13)
Warner Bros. Pictures

I’ve seen my share of war movies. They often go something like this:

Opening credits. Battle scene. Blood and guts. Blood and guts. Gory scene you wish you could forget. Conclusion.

Closing credits.

Even if the movie had a positive message, it likely was lost in a mass of violence.

But there are exceptions, and one of them is the new movie “Dunkirk.”

Based on a true story, it spotlights a pivotal moment from World War II in which some 330,000 Allied troops were evacuated off the beaches of Dunkirk, France, after being surrounded by German forces. Facing a devastating loss to the Nazis and needing a miracle, the troops — comprised of British, German and Belgian forces — survived when hundreds of private boats from Great Britain crossed the English Channel and ferried the men to larger ships.

Without that daring and risky mission in May and June of 1940, Hitler may have conquered all of Europe long before the United States even got involved.

“Dunkirk” is directed by Christopher Nolan, the same moviemaker who brought us the mind-bending films “Interstellar” (2014) and “Inception” (2010). But while those former films were sometimes hard to follow, Nolan opted for simplicity in “Dunkirk.” It includes little dialogue, a modest musical score and a straightforward plot as it alternates between scenes on the land, at sea and in the air. All total, there are only about eight major characters.

This minimalistic approach may seem gimmicky but it works. It’s easy to forget you’re watching a movie. This is one of the reasons “Dunkirk” may be my new all-time favorite war film. Here’s another reason: The violence is minimal — at least for a war movie. Yes soldiers are killed and bodies do fly through the air and ships do explode but it is largely bloodless. To me, the most disturbing parts of the film involve soldiers caught in a capsized ship, trying to escape before drowning.

“Dunkirk” includes about eight coarse words; although, honestly, the thick British accents can make it tough to know what is said. The film contains no sexuality or nudity.

With countless examples of sacrifice and courage and a good-versus-evil worldview, “Dunkirk” is an inspirational war movie you want to watch again and again. And even though God is mentioned only once (that is, in a positive light), it’s impossible not to see His hand at work in the Allies’ survival.

Jesus once told His followers, “Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends” (John 15:13). That happens a lot in “Dunkirk.”

Entertainment rating: 4 out of 5 stars
Family-friendly rating: 3 out of 5 stars


Still in theaters

War for the Planet of the Apes (PG-13)
Chernin Entertainment

In this third installment of the “Planet of the Apes” reboot, the incredible talking primates are fleeing through the forests of California, trying to escape a rogue army of men led by a madman known as “The Colonel” (Woody Harrelson). His goal: Kill the apes before they take over the world. And that’s possible, as a pandemic has shrunk the human population. The film has its entertaining moments, but the theme is troubling: Apes are good, humans are bad. Still, it can be a decent tale about man’s depravity.

Violence: extreme
Sexuality: none
Language: minimal

Spider-Man: Homecoming (PG-13)

Marvel Studios, Columbia Pictures, Pascal Pictures

Peter Parker is like a lot of 15-year-olds you’ve met: insecure and a bit awkward. Yet he’s got this side gig that’s quite cool: He dons a red costume, swings from skyscrapers and stops crime. That’s not enough for him, though. He wants a slot on the Avengers. But Tony Stark/Iron Man keeps rejecting him. “Homecoming” features a solid lesson on contentment and gives us a very creative plot that is spoiled somewhat by sexual humor and language.

Violence: moderate
Sexuality: moderate
Language: moderate


Streaming this month

Amazon Prime

  • “New in Town” (PG, 2009) — A businesswoman (Renée Zellweger) from Miami is sent to frigid-cold Minnesota to oversee a blue-collar manufacturing plant. It’s hilarious. It’s also one of the cleaner Hollywood romances out there. Rated PG for language and some suggestive material.
  • “Valkyrie” (PG-13, 2008) — Based on a true World War II story, German Col. Claus von Stauffenberg (Tom Cruise) leads a failed plot to assassinate Hitler. Rated PG-13 for violence and brief strong language.


  • “Sing” (PG, 2016) — A theater owner attempts to save his business by holding a singing competition. It’s a funny animated film, although some parents may find the music and dance choices problematic. Rated PG for some rude humor and mild peril.
  • “I Am Sam” (PG-13, 2002) — A mentally challenged father (Sean Penn) fights to keep custody of his 7-year-old daughter.

A Hollywood film with a life-affirming message. Rated PG-13 for language. It will be available Aug. 18.


  • “Charlotte’s Web” (G, 2006) — Based on the classic novel by E.B. White, this live-action version tells the story of a spider who helps save a pig from the dinner table. A delightful children’s film with lots of life lessons. Rated G.
  • “Spider-Man,” “Spider-Man 2” (PG-13, 2002 and 2004) — There have been three versions of Spider-Man in the past 15 years; this was the first one and starred Tobey Maguire.

Both are rated PG-13 for violence and action. They also contain some sensuality and language.

  • “New in Town” (PG, 2009) — See above.
  • “Valkyrie” (PG-13, 2008) — See above.


Michael Foust covers the intersection of faith and entertainment as a writer and podcast host for Heirloom Audio. He also is the husband of an amazing wife and the father of four small children.