Love London Love Culture rounds up the reviews for Sam Mendes’s World War I film.
Empire: **** “Despite the film’s heart, sincerity and intention, it is a string of set-pieces. What’s going to happen next? Which terrain will we visit? What sort of attack? After a strong first half it becomes less engaging — at its weakest, it feels a bit like a Tomb Raider game, the thrills and spills coming off a little superficial, the action in service of the camerawork.”
The Guardian: ***** “Sam Mendes’s 1917 is an amazingly audacious film; as exciting as a heist movie, disturbing as a sci-fi nightmare.”
The Telegraph: *** “One of the most devastating manoeuvres in the history of negative Oscar campaigning was carried out in the 1999 season, when word was successfully put about – by the office of Harvey Weinstein, no less – that Steven Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan didn’t amount to much more than its undeniably impressive opening 27 minutes.
You sense that slur would be received as rapturous praise by Sam Mendes’s 1917, which in spirit is those 27 minutes and nothing but, showily stretched out to feature length.”
The Hollywood Reporter: “Despite the vast complexity of the storytelling technique, the tale itself, written by Mendes and Krysty Wilson-Cairns (the latter known for writing nine episodes of Penny Dreadful), is very simple, and satisfyingly so, hinging on the single matter of whether or not an otherwise inevitable slaughter will be avoided.”
Vanity Fair: “No matter the time of day, no matter the painterly slant of light, what was experienced by so many people 100 years ago likely rarely, if ever, seemed beautiful. It often does in 1917. To modern moviegoers’ benefit, I‘ll admit. But also, just maybe, to true history’s vague disservice.”
The Wrap: “As such, the movie is more successful as a thriller than as a thoughtful examination of war and its horrors; Mendes seems less interested in bigger ideas about the nightmare of battle and its effects on his characters than he is in Hitchcockian audience manipulation. ”
Slant Magazine: “In placing such striking horrors amid long, rambling takes that call attention to the challenge of their choreography, Mendes’s film makes too much sense of a war it only truly honors when embracing the cruelty of its chaos.”
Entertainment Weekly: “If movies aim to show us that war is hell, they can also often make it feel like a highlight reel, all blood and glory and noble sacrifice.”
NME: **** “1917 may suffer slightly from a lack of narrative originality and an over-familiar setting, but Mendes, his crew and cast have made a believably human film about men caught up in a truly inhuman conflict.”
The Sun: “Sam Mendes’ eighth outing in the directors chair is about as ambitious, dazzling and exciting a war film as you’re going to get – and it may just net him his second Oscar.”
Den of Geek: ***** “The combined efforts are a tour de force in filmmaking by all involved. Mendes and Deakins have seemingly taken the “single shot” concept to its furthest extreme, with their camera following young men into rivers filled with bodies, and through towns turned into infernos.”
The Independent: *** “While the two-take structure works well for ramping up the claustrophobia, it also necessitates constant action. And so, far from giving us the sense that these are ordinary soldiers, Blake and Schofield are put through the kind of elaborate set pieces that wouldn’t feel alien to Indiana Jones.”
BBC.com: ***** “Director Sam Mendes wisely takes the opposite approach, personalising the experience through two young British soldiers sent on a harrowing, high-stakes, night-long mission, he creates a film that is tense, exhilarating and profoundly moving. “
1917 is released in cinemas on the 10th January.