Hollywood Elsewhere will be catching Chris Nolan‘s Dunkirk early this evening, or exactly five hours after this afternoon’s Detroit screening. I’ll post reactions to the former late this evening or tomorrow morning, but in the meantime: “Steven Spielberg laid claim to the Normandy beach landing, Clint Eastwood owns Iwo Jima, and now, Christopher Nolan has authored the definitive cinematic version of Dunkirk,” writes Variety‘s Peter Debruge.

“Unlike those other battles, however, Dunkirk was…a salvaged retreat, as the German offensive forced a massive evacuation of English troops early in World War II. And unlike those other two directors, Nolan is only nominally interested in the human side of the story as he puts his stamp on the heroic rescue operation, offering a bravura virtual-eyewitness account from multiple perspectives — one that fragments and then craftily interweaves events as seen from land, sea and air.

“Take away the film’s prismatic structure and this could be a classic war picture for the likes of Lee Marvin or John Wayne. And yet there’s no question that the star here is Nolan himself, whose attention-grabbing approach alternates among three strands, chronological but not concurrent, while withholding until quite late the intricate way they all fit together.

“Though the subject matter is leagues (and decades) removed from the likes of Inception and The Dark Knight, the result is so clearly ‘a Christopher Nolan film’ — from its immersive, full-body suspense to the sophisticated way he manipulates time and space — that his fans will eagerly follow en masse to witness the achievement. And what an achievement it is!”