1917, the at-turns bloody and beautiful World War I film from American Beauty and Skyfall director Sam Mendes, achieves many things in its two-hour runtime.

A visceral impression of the horrors of war that takes viewers, quite literally, on an immersive journey. Arguably, however, the most impressive of the film’s numerous feats is how it takes cinema -- a medium set to celebrate its 124th birthday later this month -- and makes it feel, if not exactly new, then at least capable of new tricks.

Such is the power of 1917’s visual storytelling, which transports viewers to the trenches and no man’s lands of northern France with all the immersive, so-real-you-can-almost-touch-it detail of a virtual reality simulation. The plot follows two young lance corporals, Blake (Game of Thrones’ Dean-Charles Chapman) and Schofield (George MacKay), as they race against the clock to deliver a message that could save a British battalion from certain death. We follow the duo through rat-infested trenches, booby-trapped tunnels and crater-strewn fields; ultimately we don’t empathise with the characters so much as become them.