July 22, 2024

OPPENHEIMER (2023) – Is it just me or is this simply overrated?

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Rating: ⭐⭐ 1/2

I finally watched this after holding back from watching it in the cinemas when it was first released a few months back. The main reason for my restraint was the film’s length which clocked in at 3 hours. I felt that watching in the comfort of my home theatre at whatever time suited me, was a more conducive option. After reading so many accolades thrown to the movie you cannot blame me for having high expectations from this Christopher Nolan movie. I got hold of my brand new 4K Bluray copy of the movie and eagerly put it on the player for an exceptional home movie night. Alas I was going to be let down by the movie which fell short of my probably unrealistically high expectations.

First of all, let me clarify here that just because a movie is about a great man or an important historical event, that does not automatically mean that it must be a great movie. Oppenheimer disappointed me in a number of ways. The constant jumping between multiple timelines was not easy to follow especially when the main way to know what timeline storyline is being shown is by looking at the age of the characters. There were also numerous characters that were being introduced and many for brief moments. I felt that none of these characters which the exception of Oppenheimer himself and perhaps his nemesis, Lewis Strauss (played by Robery Downey Jr), came across strongly or with any particular individuality. For example, I find no chemistry between Oppenheimer and his wife Kitty (played by Emily Blunt) and fail to be convince by the attraction which resulted in her leaving her husband for him. In fact, I thought Emily Blunt who is usually excellent in whatever movie she is in, came across as rather one dimensional and was given little to make her character stand out.

I also felt that even the main character of Oppenheimer was not given enough of a background to his childhood or what factors contributed to his exceptional academic performance and eventually the acclaimed physicist. Instead, we have recurring scenes of people greeting Oppenheimer like he was some sort of superstar in the scientific world. Could he have been just born with the talent?

Cillian Murphy (left) vs the real Oppenheimer (right)

The much-touted association with IMAX is a bit of a joke because the entire movie has very little visual or sound effects worthy of the technology on display. Reviewers claiming that they can see so much more details and feeling like they are right there in the action must be imagining things because many movies today are just as clear and impactful without trumpeting that they are filmed on IMAX cameras. The few instances where we see flashes of conceptual images of atomic reactions and the actual explosion at the test site, were the only instances which provided the oomph. So, let’s not kid ourselves or everyone else for that matter on how this movie MUST be watched on an IMAX screen.

There was also none of the customary epilogue with some text at the end to provide some concluding up to date facts on what happens next to the main characters and where they are today. This would have provided a more complete closure to the story.

For me, the film’s strongest moments came late into the movie when the bomb was tested and what transpired after that. I could feel the emotional and sense of guilt suffered by Oppenheimer, and I feel this final portion highlighted Cillian Murphy’s performance better than the earlier portion. But this may be a case of too little too late to make the difference to the overall experience of watching the film. As I started off saying, this movie has an important story to share and that makes it a worthy watch. It just failed to wow me enough to place this in my personal year’s best list.

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