A Review Of “Oppenheimer”
As someone who doesn’t know much about science, had never heard the name Oppenheimer before, and has nightmares about nukes frequently, Oppenheimer might not really seem like a movie I would watch. Honestly, I’m not sure I would’ve watched it if it wasn’t for the whole “Barbenheimer” event, and the fact that it’s a Christopher Nolan movie helped a little, as well.
I have developed a new habit recently of trying to avoid seeing or hearing anything about movies before I go see them, trailers included. So I went into Oppenheimer not knowing anything about it except it was roughly about nukes. Sounded interesting enough, I suppose.
Now is the time for the SPOILER WARNING! Alright, let’s get into it.
Oppenheimer ended up being pretty different than I thought it would be. I expected a war movie, a decent amount of action, and the nuclear bombs being dropped as sort of the climax. What I got instead was a political film that showcased the life of the man behind the bomb. In fact, the bombs being utilized wasn’t even shown, but the effect of them on the political climate of the world and on Oppenheimer’s conscience most certainly was.
It was hard to follow at times, especially the first forty-five minutes or so. The beginning was artsy in a way that I found hard to grasp, but became more straightforward as the movie progressed. I’m not the best at following political jargon, and I don’t know anything about physics, so I felt a little lost at times. Another big problem for me understanding what exactly was going on was the fact that the movie switches between being in color and being in black and white. I had a hard time understanding why they chose to do it this way.
The movie did a decent job of making the average person understand more or less what the problems with the science were, and when they made progress on the science. You could understand their sense of achievement or their frustrations, even if you didn’t exactly understand the words that came along with it. Things went right, or things went wrong, that much was clear, at least. And when they did attempt to explain things like fission or fusion, it didn’t feel completely overwhelming, the information felt digestible.
The non-linear storytelling was kind of hard to follow, as they jumped around Oppenheimer’s life frequently, cutting from past to present and then to other parts of the past. It was a big jumble. I’m also not the biggest fan of non-linear storytelling in general, because I get lost pretty easily. They also replayed certain scenes, I guess to put emphasis on them, but still kind of confusing.
For the majority of the movie, I flipped between “I don’t really get what’s happening” to “oh, okay I think I get it now”. Rinse and repeat. I was lost, I felt like I figured it out, and then I was lost again. Not like, painfully lost, but at least a little annoyingly so.
One interesting thing about this movie is that they don’t necessarily paint Oppenheimer in a positive or negative light. He is a man with flaws and issues in his personal life. He feels very human. The movie does nothing to showcase him as a hero or as a villain, just as a person that did something that made him extremely famous. Whether that fame is good or bad is to be decided.
Much is the same with the discussion of the bomb regarding the war. As it is in real life, the big question of “should the power to destroy the world be in our hands” is prevalent throughout. At what point does a scientific venture become something that could doom us all?
Aside from the content of the film, it’s a star-studded cast, with great performances from Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Rami Malik, Jack Quaid, Matt Damon, Florence Pugh, and Robert Downey Jr. With a cast like that, you can be rest assured this movie does not pass the Bechdel test! Jokes aside, everyone played their characters quite well.
It’s a very interesting movie, but it definitely wasn’t my typical pick for films. I don’t regret spending the money nor the three hours on it, but I also don’t have a huge interest in re-watching it any time soon. There are some movies that don’t really feel as long as they are (such as The Revenant), but I think I really felt all 180 minutes of this one (I also felt all four hours of the Justice League Snyder Cut).
This movie was less about the bombs themselves, and more about the people that built them, the government and military’s hand in it all, and the repercussions of unleashing such a power into the world. It’s about the ability we have to annihilate others, and how we feel when that power could be in someone else’s hands.
Overall, I thought it was good. It’s definitely worth a watch, if you’ve got three hours.
Have you seen Oppenheimer? Did you do a double feature with Barbie? Let me know in the comments, and have a great day!