"Oppenheimer" Film Review

Oppenheimer (2023) - IMDb

"Oppenheimer" Film Review

Rating: 5/5

By: Nathaniel Simpson

    Mr. Nolan, you have simply done it again. "Oppenheimer", which is based on the biography of the father of the Atomic Bomb, J. Robert Oppenheimer, is daring, brilliant, entertaining, and is simply a masterpiece in every sense of the word. Whether it is the fantastic performances from the likes of Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Robert Downey Jr., and Matt Damon or Nolan's brilliant direction and screenplay, this movie will chill you to the bone, presenting a brilliant biopic that also serves as a forewarning for the future. In my opinion, Nolan's latest outing is easily one of his best. 

    J. Robert Oppenheimer (Murphy) is a nuclear physicist, learning from the best in Europe before bringing his studies back to the United States. He starts to develop a reputation which eventually leads him to be the leader of the infamous Manhattan Project, the special task that gave the world the most powerful weapon known to man - the Atomic Bomb. Nolan presents the story of his live not only in color, but black and white in beautiful IMAX, 70mm format. He goes over every major event in Oppenheimer's life basically, showing what made him the man he became to be. 

    In terms of biopics, I think this is easily one of the best, if not the best. Nolan presents this story in a way that not only informs the audience about the life of this brilliant man, but makes it incredibly entertaining at the same time. I mean, come on, that has to be a very difficult task to make three hours of men sitting around talking about science entertaining. Yet, Nolan simply does it seemingly effortlessly, making it seem like it is normal conversations everyone has every day. At the same time, he has definitely done his research, and show how he is able to expertly guide the viewer through the world of nuclear physics and make them not feel confused at all throughout the runtime. 

    In terms of story, Nolan demonstrates how he has such a masterful grip on the story he is telling. This is a very complex story with lots of characters and lots of events that take place. Yet, Nolan is able to fly through with ease, helping the viewer along the way in terms of quick-cut shots of people we may have forgotten throughout the film or by relating events to one another that makes sense to the audience. I find myself questioning who is who and what is what in many biopics as there is so much to tell in that short time, but with this picture, I didn't feel that way one bit. 

    I adore the tonal changes throughout this movie that reflect the way Oppenheimer feels throughout the movie. The movie shifts and adjusts towards how he feels about the Atom Bomb and his role in all of this, and Nolan expertly showcases this in every part of this film. Not only does this tell the true story of how the bomb came to be, but the emotional side to it as well plays a major factor in the events that transpire. 

    At the same time, I simply don't think this could have worked as well as it did without Murphy. This movie is a tale of faces, mainly Murphy's. Throughout the entire three-hour runtime, in which Murphy is in most of the scenes, the camera lingers on his face, making the viewer interpret what he is feeling at that exact moment. I truly think Murphy is one of the best actors in terms of facial expressions and communicating feelings without ever having to say a word; it's beautiful and haunting all at once. The film is also focused with a number of other faces, trying to communicate how they feel, but Murphy's is simply the best. In regard to his performance as the world-famous scientist, he really captures the essence of what made Oppenheimer the person he is. From his mannerisms to the way he conducts himself, it really seems like Murphy stepped into the shoes of Oppenheimer and lived his life for him.

    Of course, the star-studded cast, which consists of Blunt, Downey Jr., Damon, Florence Pugh, Jack Quaid, Rami Malek, Devon Bostick, Josh Peck, Tom Conti, Gary Oldman, Benny Safdie, Kenneth Branagh, Alex Wolff, Casey Affleck, Michael Angarano, and so many more, are great as the minor characters. Each one has fantastic on-screen chemistry with Murphy, and really fit the roles they were given. I especially want to applaud Blunt, Damon, Downey Jr., and Pugh, who I think deserve to be exceptionally acknowledged for their fantastic work here as Kitty Oppenheimer, Leslie Groves, Lewis Strauss, and Jean Tatlock, respectively. 

    Let's of course talk about the obvious popular factors present here - the cinematography, the IMAX format, and the detonation of the bomb seen in the movie. These three aspects are brilliant in their own rights, and really make the film unique in terms of IMAX blockbusters. Hoyte Van Hoytema really shows his knowledge of how to make iconic, beautiful shots, which this film is jam-packed of. I'm positive future students will be studying his work for this film. The IMAX really immerses the viewer into the film, making them feel like they are part of the community where Oppenheimer and his team crafted this terrifying weapon of mass destruction. And the explosion? There's simply no words. You have to see it for yourself, and on the biggest screen you possibly can. 

    Another thing I would like to mention here is the beautifully haunting score by Ludwig Göransson. He is able to elevate the dialogue scenes and add different emotions to various moments sprinkled throughout the runtime. He is able to take a simple scene of dialogue, and add so much fear and tension to it that it makes the viewer grip their seat till their knuckles turn white. Now, THAT is how you compose a score for a film like this. 

    There is no doubt in my mind that Nolan delivered a beautifully haunting masterpiece that I think will go down as one of his absolute bests. This movie simply does everything to perfection, and is both a very enjoyable and stressful time from beginning to end. This is so far the best movie I have seen this year, and I think it will be very hard to beat this movie anytime soon.