Opinion, Reviews

Christopher Nolan: Beyond ‘Batman’

Dunkirk marks the 10th movie from Oscar-winning filmmaker Christopher Nolan. He is considered to be one of the greatest directors’ still working in Hollywood. With the expectation of “Insomnia,” he has also produced, wrote or co-wrote all of his films.

His movies are always different, and yet the same. The psychological intensity can be seen in all of his works – basically, every one of his movies is a thriller.

For starters, Nolan is not American, he’s English. He began his career making independent films with “Following,” and then with “Memento.” After becoming successful, he started working for the big budget studios. Though you could view that as selling out to ‘The Man’.

It’s worth noting that his younger brother, Jonathan, has worked on his movies before. He has co-written many of his brother’s films, including “The Dark Knight” and “Interstellar.” In fact, “Memento” is based off a short story called “Memento Mori” that Jonathan had published.

Nolan will probably best remembered for redefining the superhero genre. He brought the Batman franchise back with “The Dark Knight Trilogy”, which had been in hibernation since “Batman and Robin.” “Batman Begins” brought a gritty atmosphere for the Caped Crusader, proving that a superhero movie can be more than mere kids’ stuff. With his next film, he proved they can be great movies as well. “The Dark Knight” is considered to be one of the greatest superhero movies of all-time, if not the greatest. Some believe it to be one the best films to be released in the last decade. Even if the film series itself wasn’t an accurate portrayal of the comics, it’s still highly acclaimed by moviegoers and critics.

Many of Nolan’s movies are household names. However, others are more underrated: such as “Insomnia” and “The Prestige.” Both are now thought of as overlooked classics. Having watched the two, I agree with that belief – especially for “The Prestige.”

It’s takes talent to create movies with a twist-ending that can be re-watchable. Many movies with a “twist-ending” are only worth watching once. If you know the twist, the film’s not fun to watch anymore. Despite this true statement, both “Memento” and “The Prestige” don’t just hold up after the first viewing, they improve after multiple viewings. It’s is satisfying to pick up on little details that you missed the first time. Nolan isn’t afraid to leave unanswered questions in his movies, allowing the audience to put the pieces together themselves to come up with their own theory. Was Leonardo DiCaprio in the real world or still in a dream at the end of “Inception”?

Nolan’s films can also be disturbing at times. The Joker’s actions in “The Dark Knight” are unnerving. There are moments in “The Prestige” and “Dunkirk” that feel uncomfortable, but less severely. Surprisingly, all three of this movies are rated PG-13.

His movies tend to have great performances. Heath Ledger’s Joker will go down in film history for his acting. And Ledger had never played a villain before. In “Insomnia,” Robin Williams stars as a creepy psychopath. The movie made Robin Williams creepy. Of course, Nolan’s ability to direct actors isn’t perfect. After all, he didn’t tell Christian Bale to change his Batman voice…

People say that Nolan is one of the greats, but some think he is overrated. I personally think he is an awesome director. Like all filmmakers, he is not loved by everybody. His critics do bring up good points about his movies. Nolan tends to focus on interesting plots rather than interesting characters. One could argue that great characters could make any story interesting.

His main characters are always the same – a man that feels guilt from something, which is usually the death of a loved one. This loss motivates the character’s actions throughout the story. This is true for the protagonists of “Memento,” “The Dark Knight” trilogy, “Inception” and so on. Thankfully, “Dunkirk” avoided this repeated trope, for the most part.

I love some of Nolan’s movies, but not all. “The Dark Knight Rises” was a disappointing finale for the trilogy. It is the weakest of the three. The only good parts are the stunts and Tom Hardy’s performance as Bane. “Interstellar” could have been better as well. Despite having an amazing plot, the characters were not the best.

But even his critics would admit that Christopher Nolan is a good director. Now is he great or overrated? Honestly, I love his movies. I’m not sure if he’s one of the all-time great directors, but his movies are classics. “The Dark Knight” is one of my favorites, and I highly recommend watching “The Prestige.” “Dunkirk” was another good film by Nolan, and I look forward to the next one.

One Comment


I agree mostly, but I do think he is of the greatest. Right now he definitely is; of all time, a draw Hitchcock.
Interstellar was built upon Nobel prize winning physics, but humanity is saved by the inter dimensional bond between a father and a daughter. As a sci fi buff and father, it made me appreciate my own bond with my own daughter.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *