The much-awaited theatrical release of 2023, Oppenheimer, is finally here. Shot in 57 days, as revealed by Cillian Murphy, the movie has been making headwinds all across the globe.
When the ace director, Christopher Nolan, said that no CGI graphics were used in the making of Oppenheimer, the audience’s expectations rose further.
It is based on the life of J. Rober Oppenheimer, an American Theoretical Physicist, who is often called the “father of the nuclear bomb.”
Moreover, the film is three hours in length, a rarity these days.
How does it fare? Here is my Oppenheimer review.
It is about the life of Robert J. Oppenheimer who created the first nuclear bomb with the aim of deterrence.
But when his efforts transpire into the actual creation of the bomb, Oppenheimer faces the wrath of his inner self, which is further accentuated by the shelling of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Seeing the physicist’s waning commitment, his enemies within the government begin painting him as an Anti-American.
Directed by Christopher Nolan, Oppenheimer stars Cillian Murphy (Robert Oppenheimer), Emily Blunt (Kitty), Robert Downey Jr. (Lewis Strauss), Matt Damon (Leslie Groves), and Alden Ehrenreich, among others.
Further, the movie is based on the book American Prometheus: The Triumph and Tragedy of J. Robert Oppenheimer by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin.
What Works for Oppenheimer?
It has an intricate screenplay. This might be the first time I am using the word “intricate” as an adjective for the screenplay.
The makers of Oppenheimer have ensured to piece each frame together with the utmost craft. They shuffle the screen with a strange dynamic tempo which is complex yet intriguing.
Oppenheimer’s satiable storyline, based on the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer, provides a fascinating glimpse into history.
Witnessing glimpses of Dr. Albert Einstein adds an extra layer of satisfaction to the overall narrative.
The storytelling is a true work of art, and the narrative unfolds with precision, keeping viewers captivated from start to finish.
Since Oppenheimer is based on a book, we anticipated the film’s writing to be deep. However, I still found certain scenes got the added depth due to the cinematic adaptation.
Moreover, the characterization is top-notch in the movie. Though I will talk about performances later, casting the likes of Cillian Murphy and Matt Damon was the best decision.
They not only propel the plot but also allow the audience to connect emotionally with the characters’ struggles, ambitions, and inner conflicts.
Moving forward, the movie adeptly navigates through various elements of Oppenheimer’s life, including the intense bomb-making process and the aftermath of its creation.
Each aspect is carefully crafted to keep the plot engaging and allows it to evolve seamlessly as it becomes more intricate.
As the movie progresses, it becomes emotionally potent, especially during Robert Oppenheimer’s heartfelt conversation with Albert Einstein.
This powerful scene strikes a chord with the audience, leaving a lasting impact and evoking strong emotions.
In the end, Christopher Nolan’s direction deserves high praise, as he skillfully brings his vision to the screen.
Camera angles, the black-and-white transitions, and a specific focus on the reflective display of art are some of his high points.
Also, the film’s visual splendor enhances the storytelling, capturing the essence of each scene with breathtaking precision.
How are the Performances?
Cillian Murphy spectacularly lives Robert Oppenheimer on the screen. He brings even the tiniest bits of the scientist’s demeanor into play and explores them to the last breath.
His dialogue delivery is charismatic, and so is his personality. While Murphy has always developed a unique style to carry characters, Oppenheimer is probably his most articulate presentation (sorry, Thomas Shelby).
It is a task to depict a real-life individual in a work of art, and Cillian has profoundly succeeded in doing so.
Robert Downey Jr. keeps it simple. He smartly makes himself non-existential while ensuring the overall impact doesn’t suffer.
He depicts Lewis Strauss, showcasing the government official’s disdain for Oppenheimer with a mix of coldness and calculated intensity.
Downey Jr.’s compelling performance makes Strauss a formidable antagonist, adding tension to the story.
Matt Damon’s portrayal of Leslie Groves, the military general overseeing the Manhattan Project, is commanding and authoritative.
Damon’s ability to convey Groves’ unwavering determination and sense of duty adds weight to the character and the ethical dilemmas faced by Oppenheimer.
Emily Blunt shines as Kitty, Oppenheimer’s confidante and emotional anchor. Blunt’s portrayal brings out Kitty’s strength and resilience, adding a layer of emotional depth to the narrative.
She cannot be ignored at all.
What Doesn’t Work for Oppenheimer?
Oppenheimer demands an engaged and attentive audience, particularly for viewers outside the United States and those less familiar with historical events.
The movie requires some prior knowledge about J. Robert Oppenheimer and the context of the Manhattan Project.
For example, one of the people I went to watch Oppenheimer with said after the interval that he had only heard something about “quantum physics” when it came to the film, which is why he expected the movie to be rooted in Sci-Fi.
Oppenheimer involves history in decent quantity. Read about the man, at least his Wikipedia page, that’s the least you can do before stepping foot inside the theater.
What’s wrong with us is that in the huge gamut of sparkling commercial cinema, we have forgotten about stories with substance. We must undo this or we don’t deserve to criticize artistic displays.
Furthermore, the movie delves into historical events surrounding the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer, and while it adds depth and substance to the narrative, it may not appeal to audiences seeking purely entertaining or action-packed experiences.
Those uninterested in historical contexts might find it challenging to fully appreciate the film’s nuances.
Another reason I might add is Oppenheimer has been marketed as a mass-oriented film in certain regions, including India, which may lead to unmet expectations for some viewers.
Instead, the movie caters more effectively to a niche audience interested in thought-provoking stories, character-driven plots, and historical dramas.
Those seeking constant action and high-octane sequences may find Oppenheimer to be slower-paced.
The film focuses on character exploration and the emotional impact of historical events rather than relying heavily on adrenaline-pumping moments.
Should You Watch Oppenheimer?
In a world dominated by flashy commercial cinema, Oppenheimer reminds us of the value of stories with substance.
Though some moviegoers may prefer lighter, escapist fare and might not connect with the film’s depth and intellectual themes, Oppenheimer is something that I wouldn’t want anyone to miss.