Review: 1917 is powerful, bolstered by stunning cinematography, direction

With two Golden Globes already on the shelf, World War I film 1917 goes into this year's Oscars with big hopes for gold.

First, Kiwi audiences can judge the film for themselves. It's just hit cinemas here.

It's set in Spring, Europe, 1917. Two young British infantrymen are called to their superior's dug-out. Lance Corporal Blake (Dean Charles Chapman) is told his brother's unit is about to launch an attack into an ambush.

The phone lines have been cut, and the only way to save him and thousands of others is to hand-deliver the message to abort before dawn the next day and across enemy lines.

For Blake it's personal. For his friend Schofield - the more battle-hardened of the two - he odds of their success and their survival are far more in focus.

It's completely terrifying to witness. The horrors of war are driven home with urgent kinetic intimacy. It's very, very powerful. Roger Deakins' cinematography is meshed with the vision of Sam Mendes - this simple plot becomes incredibly potent. 

It's hard to watch, but it feels important that we do. 

Four-and-a-half stars.