The student news site of Moravian University

The Comenian

The student news site of Moravian University

The Comenian

The student news site of Moravian University

The Comenian

‘Oppenheimer’ Review

Atom Bomb Baby
Photo courtesy of Warner Bros
Photo courtesy of Warner Bros

Oppenheimer is the best movie I’ve seen all year. After years of memes and buildup for the release of “Barbenheimer”, they have finally graced the silver screen and I could not be more impressed. If you wish to see the opposite side of this box office coin, check out Joel Hendricks’ review on Barbie.

Recently I’ve felt Christopher Nolan could be a little hit or miss with his movies after the somewhat disappointing releases of Dunkirk and Tenet. Thankfully, though, not only does Nolan bring his A game here, but he’s quite possibly made his shining magnum opus. Oppenheimer is riveting from beginning to end and has a disturbing and thought-provoking message that will leave you pondering it for days.

The cast absolutely knocks it out of the park here. Almost every major cast member delivers a career-high performance which is impressive considering it includes the likes of Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Robert Downey Jr., Matt Damon, and Florence Pugh. This cast is filled to the brim with amazing actors and actresses, and they all somehow deliver engaging and memorable performances.

In particular, Cillian Murphy as J. Robert Oppenheimer and Robert Downey Jr. as Lewis Strauss deliver Oscar-worthy performances and are the movie’s standouts. They both deliver extremely nuanced and complex performances that only get better as the movie progresses. Murphy acts his butt off in this movie and it shows because he chews up his screen time like a piece of bubblegum.

I’m just blown away by how this movie has a cast this large and there isn’t a single weak link in the bunch (Yes, pun intended).

The score, composed by Ludwig Göransson, is magnificent. Nolan movies always have good scores, but it is especially good here and is only really rivaled by The Dark Knight in my opinion. It complements every scene perfectly and is pivotal for the delivery of the story.

This film does not have a linear narrative which is not unheard of for a Nolan movie. It jumps around a variety of different parts of Oppenheimer’s life yet the movie still feels cohesive. On top of that, this movie is very rewatchable because it constantly recontextualizes itself throughout. What seems like minute details at first will become extremely important later on. 

Because of this fractured structure, though, this movie can feel pretty unevenly paced. This is especially true in the first half where it constantly jumps from one scene to the next, leaving little time to let the scenes sink in. I somewhat understand because the movie already has a long runtime but the first hour feels like it’s sprinting so it can get to the good stuff.

Despite being entirely focused on Oppenheimer’s life, this movie feels like a grand epic in part because of how large the cast is and how important the mission they are on is. If you somehow haven’t gathered, this movie follows the creation of the atomic bomb through the Manhattan Project during World War II. This film doesn’t glance over a lot of the ethical implications of it though. Despite what some moronic Tik Tok and “X” users might say, the film extensively questions whether dropping the bomb was justified or not and emphasizes the sheer horror of this invention regardless of what you think about how the US used them.

Did the dawn of the nuclear age sign the death warrant for humanity? Have we set the timer to count down to our own destruction?

The movie also brilliantly uses both black and white and colored scenes. The black and white scenes are meant to be from an objective perspective (usually with Robert Downey Jr.) while the color scenes are meant to be from Oppenheimer’s subjective perspective. These cinematographic switches are not jarring in the slightest. In fact, this feature adds significantly to the development of the story and Oppenheimer as a person.

To my memory it’s not mentioned in the movie but while at college, Oppenheimer was diagnosed with Schizophrenia. Because of this, all the scenes in color add much more value to the overall movie because it allows Nolan to show exactly what Oppenheimer is thinking and feeling in a specific scene through both visual and audio cues that represent his visions and sometimes psychosis. 

This is such a great way to visually show what a scene will entail and Nolan makes sure it’s not just a cheap gimmick for pretentious film nerds to wet themselves over. He uses this to completely recontextualize scenes that you have already seen, adding much more context and weight to them.

Oppenheimer delivers a gripping and fascinating portrayal of a man who gave humanity the key to its destruction, an American Prometheus. He isn’t glorified nor is he vilified, he’s portrayed just as a flawed man. Almost everything from the cast, performances, editing, directing, soundtrack and more is just astounding. This is an important movie that will hopefully go down in the history books as one of the best blockbusters of the decade.

Score: 9.5/10

View Comments (1)
More to Discover

Comments (1)

Any comments that are considered racist, sexist, using expletives or slurs, based on factually inaccurate information, or are derogatory in any way will be deleted.
All The Comenian Picks Reader Picks Sort: Newest

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

  • F

    FatimahSep 4, 2023 at 11:44 am

    So glad you mentioned his schizophrenia and how it is magnified not through verbal expression but through the array of visual and auditory effects!