What do Oppenheimer and Christopher Nolan have in common? They are both the father of an atomic bomb.

Oppenheimer, Christopher Nolan’s latest biopic about J. Robert Oppenheimer, is a three hour journey into the life behind the genius mind of the “father of the a-bomb.” Shot in 70mm IMAX, this movie promised to be an “epic thriller that thrusts audiences into the pulse-pounding paradox of the enigmatic man who must risk destroying the world in order to save it.” As a lover of all things historical, I wanted to love this movie. I wanted to walk away feeling better knowing the story. Unfortunately, this is not the experience I walked away with.

oppenheimerOppenheimer is a movie that is centered on three parts of his life: Oppenheimer’s life, his security clearance investigation and Strauss’s confirmation hearings. The film bounces through these three events in flashback style, with the latter two being shown in stark black and white imagery. It is confusing at first, but you catch on. This “triple story in one movie” makes this a hard three hours to sit through. Combine that with the fact this is a dark, depressing story of a man who struggled with a genius mind and the inability to stand up for himself, you have yourself a feature you cannot look away from once you start, but may never look at again.

The story of the atom bomb primarily focuses during the time of World War II. Americans were dabbling in the Communist Party(or at least what they thought it was), women meant nothing, and the men all wore suits everywhere. These details were not lost in the movie. The movie spends an appropriate amount of time at Los Alamos, the compound where the scientists built and tested the atom bomb, although a completely separate movie of just the time at Los Alamos would have been appropriate.

There are sex scenes in Oppenheimer, and they are totally unnecessary, if not uncomfortable. While Oppenheimer’s affairs were part of his story, the depth that they were portrayed were distracting from his story. There was one scene that was so absurd, the audience laughed uncomfortably. If Nolan was hoping for the “sex sells” cliché to be in his favor, the tawdry scenes were not.

Christopher Nolan uses sound to immerse the audience throughout the movie. When Oppenheimer feels overwhelmed, the sounds are loud, almost to the point of being unbearable. With anticipation, the scene features stark silence. Be prepared for a few jumps when the sound kicks back in. The CGI explosion was a thing of slow-motion beauty. It was hard to watch this beautiful image, all while knowing this event had the capability to destroy an entire area. Because Nolan uses sound and imagery to immerse you, you feel the awe and sadness behind this event.

You cannot overlook the stars of this movie. The film stars Cillian Murphy as J. Robert Oppenheimer, Emily Blunt as Kitty Oppenheimer, Matt Damon as General Leslie Groves Jr., Robert Downey, Jr. as Lewis Strauss, and Florence Pugh as Jean Tatlock. There are appearances by Matthew Modine, Kenneth Branagh and Rami Malek. This award winning cast shone during the darkest parts of this movie.

Oppenheimer deals with the moral question of making a weapon of mass destruction that could, potentially, destroy all of mankind. Introducing atomic warfare into the world is something that cannot be undone, and the weight of this conundrum rested heavily on Oppenheimer’s shoulders. Cillian Murphy, while at times slightly resembling Judge Doom from Who Framed Roger Rabbit(it’s the hat), carried this weight impeccably. You cannot help but feel the pressure he is under with this moral dilemma.

oppenheimerA bright spot in Oppenheimer were the few scenes that featured his encounters with Albert Einstein, played by Tom Conti. For as much delight that was expressed from the audience, maybe a movie about the life of Einstein should be next.

Back to my opening sentence – “They are both the father of an atomic bomb.” Is Oppenheimer a bomb? “This is the most important thing to happen to the history of the world.” I think the importance of the history of this event may have been lost on the inclusion of immersion techniques and powerful storytelling. This makes Oppenheimer, unfortunately, a “one and done” movie for me.

OPPENHEIMER – In Theaters 7 21 23
Site | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | YouTubeReddit | Twitch | #Oppenheimer

What do you think?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.