By Luis Sanchez
It has been approximately 20 minutes since I left the movie theater, and I am still speechless as to what I have just witnessed. This is what cinema was made for. Before I begin, I would like to clarify that there is an abundance of things to cover for this film, but I am unable to touch upon all of them in order to provide a general and open review of the movie as a whole.
Oppenheimer is a biographical film based on the 2005 biography American Prometheus by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin. Written and directed by Christopher Nolan, it follows Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer as he takes part in the Manhattan Project and contributes heavily to the production of the first atomic bomb. It stars Cillian Murphy as Oppenheimer, Emily Blunt as Katherine “Kitty” Oppenheimer, Matt Damon as General Leslie Groves, and Robert Downey Jr. as Lewis Strauss. With its cast alone the film gathers a lot of attention and is able to effectively convey to the viewer a complex plot that will keep you at the edge of your seat.
The film actually carries two stories: the creation of the atomic bomb and Strauss’ Senate confirmation hearing as Secretary of Commerce. Overall, I believe that both plots worked well together and actually complemented each other. In the beginning it felt as if both stories were on opposite ends, and I grew worried as to whether it would pay out in the end; however, the film does well on making them meet in the middle.
This movie takes the viewer on an educational ride where you will grow confused at times, but being patient will pay it all off. For the first hour or so of the film (it has a runtime of three hours) I was extremely overwhelmed. The film flipped back and forth between both stories which, as I mentioned before, felt as if they were on opposite ends. In addition, the film would flip back and forth rapidly. I believe there is not a singular “scene” in the first hour of the film that lasts for more than five minutes. The same goes for dialogue: the most two characters exchanged back and forth was perhaps for 10 lines, and the scene would once again change. Nevertheless, I believe this was done on purpose to provide more of an emphasis on the climax of both stories, when we see the scenes begin to last longer and the conversations slow down. Although, I still believe that some scenes could have been cut out to make the movie shorter. Taking those scenes out wouldn’t have made the movie better, but it would have allowed me to come home earlier.
There is also an intelligent play of visuals that further builds tension for the climax of the bomb. If the viewer pays close attention she may be able to catch a few references to theoretical physics in these visuals. Another thing to praise Christopher Nolan for is his minimal use of computer generated imagery (CGI) which helps keep the viewer grounded and feel more “inside” the story of Oppenheimer.
The audio effects of this movie deserve applause. We live in a time where a movie goes beyond what we see but rather what we feel. The more senses appealed, the greater the emotion evoked. I find it insane as to how I could simply close my eyes and only listen to this film yet still be able to feel what Oppenheimer was showcasing. There is great timing and contrast between the loud and the quiet. There is so much more to say but it is difficult to describe through words. The contrast, the parallels, the story. Sometimes the audio was more meaningful to me through what it did – not the voices. The audio was impactful at the right moments, sometimes lifting me off my seat more than any horror movie I’ve ever seen!
In the end, Oppenheimer is a masterpiece. I already want to go see it again, and I am most definitely reading the book before the summer ends.
I rate this movie 9.6/10 which is the highest I have ever rated a movie in my time writing movie reviews for CECELIA. A round of applause for Christopher Nolan! I would not be surprised if this film was nominated for an Oscar. I recommend you go and watch it in the movie theaters because that’s how it is meant to be experienced.
Remember, theory will only take you so far.