FILM REVIEW - Oppenheimer
By The Masked Medic
Okay, so films in the cinema are rare just because I don’t have the time sometimes, but, you know with this summer of film coming up, there was just no way that I was going to miss a couple of these films. First on the agenda, which should be first on everyone’s agenda, is the Universal produced, Christopher Nolan directed; Oppenheimer!
‘Oppenheimer’ is a film that takes a close look at the life of Robert J. Oppenheimer, the man that created the atomic bomb. As with all Christopher Nolan films, there is clearly some thinking to be done, and the film takes place in several different timelines and is told via different people’s accounts. It starts with the early work of Robert Oppenheimer, including his time at university as he attempted to prove that he was capable of understanding concepts far greater than those being taught. He travelled meeting people instrumental in his pursuit of knowledge such as Niels Bohr. While teaching at the University of California and the California Institute of Technology he learns of the experiment which has successfully split the atom. He realizes the potential this has and is recruited by US General Leslie Groves to create a bomb the American Army can use against the Nazis in Germany, which is particularly pertinent given that Oppenheimer was Jewish. He recruits a team of scientists and together with the US Army, they create a base in Los Alamos in New Mexico. Here they set about to do the unstoppable and create an atomic bomb. As time goes on, however, Oppenheimer realizes the potential catastrophe that could result in the dropping of this bomb. When the Germans surrender, all eyes turn to the Japanese and in 1945 America decides to drop the bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Following this, the film focuses on Oppenheimer’s life and his relative fall from grace. But just who was pulling the strings from the background?
One of the things that I love about Christopher Nolan’s films is that he always knows who’s going to do a fantastic job in his lead roles and believe me in this film there were many. Leading the film as Robert Oppenheimer was regular Nolan collaborator, Cillian Murphy. From the first time I saw Murphy as Dr Jonathan Crane in “Batman Begins”, I knew that he was someone to watch and evidently, Christopher Nolan agrees. This is their third film together and by far Cillian’s best performance. His ability to play a character so brilliant but also so troubled is unmatched. In hindsight, there was no one else who could’ve done the role justice. Now, with a lot of films, when you have a lead actor that puts in a fantastic performance, it’s easy for supporting actors and actresses to fade into the background. But that really wasn’t the case here. There were lots of them so I’ll try to summarise my favourites. Playing General Groves was Matt Damon. There’s a running joke with my siblings that we can get our dad to watch any film if we say that Matt Damon is in it, and perhaps due to that, I’d begun to ignore his performances. But damn, he knows how to act and he only seems to be getting better with age. Emily Blunt and Florence Pugh played Kitty and Jean, Oppenheimer’s wife and lover respectively. Both put in solid performances. The standout performance for me though was Robert Downey Jr. who plays Lewis Strauss. He’s been working hard to rid himself of the ‘Tony Stark'-like typecasting he got himself into and this was an excellent way to show how much more he is. Given my previous criticism of his acting abilities, I’m happy to take it all back. The man knows how to act.
With Christopher Nolan films, you know that you’re always going to get something good. I’d argue he’s easily the greatest filmmaker of our generation and no one comes close to his track record. ‘Oppenheimer’ in my opinion was an interesting film for him to take on because as a historical piece, there’s only so much you can do to create varied opinions of what’s happening. That being said, Nolan did a fantastic job of showing us very little of the film’s true plot in the trailers. As far as the actual film goes, although, I don’t believe it’s Nolan’s best work by a mile, there’s no doubt it’s an excellent watch!
Okay, cinematography. You already know what I’m going to say. It’s elite. From the very first scene till the very last, there is no waste in creating iconic shots. There are several scenes which are in black and white and they’re contrasted well with those in colour. The exciting thing is that after a while I didn’t even realize that they were switching between the two, it was seamlessly done. If we’re talking about the soundtrack, then I’d say it was very good. Now I know that there will be some contention here to this comment but yes, Hans Zimmer is the GOAT. But many of his apprentices are now featuring extensively in blockbusters and Ludwig Göransson did a fantastic job and his work on sci-fi projects shows that he’s one to watch. Overall, an excellent movie! Don’t worry the double bill is about to feature next!