Oppenheimer Movie Review

Oppenheimer is written and directed by Christopher Nolan and stars Killian Murphy as the title character and is the real-life exploration of J. Robert Oppenheimer, an American scientist, largely known as the father of the atomic bomb. Anytime Christopher Nolan releases a new film, there’s a lot of excitement. Obviously, he’s made tons of great movies and is one of my favorite filmmakers.

He’s also one of the few filmmakers operating today that really cares about cinema and actually is given the budget to be able to make films that support it. He shoots on film. He does everything practically. He wants as little CGI as possible and has claimed that there is not one CGI shot in the entirety of Oppenheimer. I don’t know if he’s including things like cleanup in that.

If he never even had a single VFX cleanup shot, my spirit just left my body like that’s astounding. As is this entire film, it’s three hours long, it is dialogue heavy, but we’re also gifted with being able to be inside of Oppenheimer’s mind when he’s trying to imagine these things early on in the film. Those sequences are also visually dazzling, combined with an incredible score by Ludwig Gourdeson returning from working with him on “Tenant” and watching all of the rated R-3 hour dialogue heavy shot on film with black and white sequences movie in IMAX today, I couldn’t help but feel like I wasn’t in 2023.

And it’s tough to know where to start having seen the film just once because no one is excellent at editing his films in a way where it feels like there truly is no fat. The baggage is not existent. The actors deliver the dialogue fast. We jump between time periods fast. The scenes move fast. The three hours feels more like two and a half. Somewhere 30 minutes evaporated while I was watching Oppenheimer.

And there is just no way that you’re going to get everything on first viewing because there are so many character nuances happening, moments of history that are being depicted in the blink of an eye, things you might have heard about or seen on covers of magazines flashed by so quickly and you’re like, “Oh, that was that. I remember hearing about that.” Or, you know, pieces of the movie feel so important but no one sort of lets them take a back seat in a way that makes them feel less cinematic.

And I mean that as a compliment. It doesn’t feel like no one is treating his subjects like they are characters in a movie. It feels very much like he is allowing them to just be people. There are massive A-list stars, Oscar winners in fact, who have like two scenes in the movie. They’re just showing up to be in like two scenes. That says something about people who want to work with Nolan, how they basically drop anything to be in a Nolan movie.

But it also is Nolan’s way of treating these people not like celebrities and like the characters they’re playing. The first time I noticed this was early on in a scene where Oppenheimer is being questioned and this is a sequence that we go back to a lot in the film. Not that sequence, his wife played by Emily Blunt is just sitting behind him. And occasionally you will see her in coverage, but she doesn’t get a close up or even really an acknowledgement that that character is there until that character becomes important to the scene. And that’s Emily Blunt sitting back there.

That’s not some random person we’ve never seen before. And it makes the scenes feel like you’re watching a documentary. Poit de Van Hoitemos cinematography, once again, stuns. He’s a master. And as good as this movie is technically. At the end of the day it’s really the performances that make this movie absolutely shine. Robert Downey Jr. is terrific here. I have not seen him this good in a movie in, um… Wow, maybe Kisqis Bang Bang. Like I love him as Iron Man, but he’s played the same character for a long time.

This is a phenomenal performance and I would not be shocked if he was nominated for Best Supporting Actor, but Killian Murphy in his first lead role in a Nolan film. It should absolutely receive an Oscar nomination. His work is amazing here. He not only looks a lot like Oppenheimer, but every scene he is just captivating. And it goes beyond his incredible eyes. It’s just that he is always on. Never for a second that I look at him and see the guy from Red Eye or Scaracrow or any of the other films he’s been in.

I saw Oppenheimer and I saw his version of him. Truly a remarkable performance. And the film is filled with them. Florence Pugh in her limited screen time is excellent. Emily Blunt in her limited screen time is excellent. In fact, she might have my favorite scene in the movie where she’s given a chance to answer some questions from some authority figures and really stuns in that scene. There will be a lot of people who find the film boring because it’s a three hour rated or adult drama with black and white scenes and a lot of dialogue.

And if that’s not your cup of tea, well… You know, go watch another movie, I guess. There’s a lot of other things you can watch. I really love the fact that I got to see a film like this in theaters tonight. And I hope that other people do too. Now I do have to mention one thing and that is the sound mix. The sound effects are incredible. The musical score is great. But like a lot of Nolan’s recent films since Dark Knight rises, his dialogue pass feels muted. It feels echoey. And I would say I discerned about 75% of the dialogue.

So there’s a large chunk of the movie where I was like, what did they just say? And I know a lot of these complaints were lobbied towards Tenet. A lot of these complaints were lobbied towards Dark Knight rises. And it’s back. I don’t know exactly what is going on, but I found myself straining to listen to a lot of scenes. And then there were others that sounded fantastic. And I understand that Nolan is probably going for some sort of documentary-esque realism with scenes where people are walking around in crowds.

And you can’t quite understand what they’re saying because in real life it feels that way too. But as much as I enjoy realism in my films, I also want to understand what people are saying, especially when the looks on their faces seem to indicate something important, which just said, and I didn’t quite hear it. So if you had that issue with some of Nolan’s recent films, you’re probably going to have it again here. I saw the film in IMAX.

It was exceedingly loud. I don’t know if it’ll play the same way at a regular theater. I can’t answer that question. I’m pretty sure that IMAX theater I saw it in was pretty state of the art. So I don’t know what else to say about the dialogue in Nolan’s recent films. It’s been said enough. I just clearly a choice. Beyond that aspect of the sound mix that I’m sure will be a little easier to digest when you watch the film with subtitles, this is truly a monumental achievement.

It’s a character study of a very complex person who could be viewed as a hero and a villain to so many people that the movie does a terrific job of balancing that legacy. You should definitely see Oppenheimer. It’s fantastic, especially to support what feels like one of the last filmmakers who’s making films along these lines. It really just seems like these budgets are given to a handful of people, Nolan being one of them, and I’m glad that he’s taking that money and making challenging adult dramas. Guys, thank you so much as always for reading

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