Jeff's Reviews

Thoughts on every movie I've ever seen.

Oppenheimer (2023)

Directed by Christopher Nolan

Starring Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Matt Damon


A chilling biography of a man and a pivotal point in human history.

Murphy is fantastic in the lead role, capturing Oppenheimer’s bright but sad eyes, slight frame, and doing a particularly wonderful job with his exquisite voice, delivering an authentic, gravelly American accent without any trace of his native English. Blunt is similarly good in her role. Really impressive cast all around. I guess at this point, everyone wants to work with Nolan. But it’s sad how few Americans are playing these quintessentially American parts. Wonderful old age make-up in the closing scenes.

The movie is crafted with stylish visuals and an impressive score of droning horns and strings, both of which artificially increase the tension and drama of the repetitive and relatively boring scenes of people talking in room. If you strip away that score and manipulation, I think everybody would be talking about how long and boring this movie is.

In classic Nolan form, he plays with the element of time and mixes up the film stocks as he jumps around. For this story, I’m not sure it was necessary, just another manipulation to make the story seem more dynamic than it really was.

Photography throughout is creative and powerful, but I found the climactic explosion to be a bit lacking. I respect Nolan’s reliance on practical effects, but the explosion could have been jazzed up a bit with the delicate touch of CGI. There are hints of some impressive imagery early in the film in Oppenheimer’s visions, including high-speed photos that show the detailed heart of a nuclear explosion, but the Trinity explosion itself as shown in the film is nothing more than a bright flash and fire.

Given that this story is about not only Oppenheimer, but the birth of nuclear weapons, I find it strange that there is no mention of the bombing at Pearl Harbor and no visuals of the Hiroshima explosion. I get that the movie is already long, but if you are telling a story about the dawn of the nuclear age, these are historically significant moments that should have been dramatically woven into the film.

While Nolan has established himself as one of this generation’s great directors, I think this is one of his weaker films.

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