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Film REVIEW: Oppenheimer (2023) - ★★★★★

Dubbed the ‘father of the atomic bomb’, J. Robert Oppenheimer was the scientific genius who created the most terrifying weapon in history and lived the rest of his life in its shadow.

Anchored by Cillian Murphy’s über-intense performance in the title role, the Oppenheimer movie is a shattering historical drama whose IMAX immersion recreates a world on fire.

based on American Prometheus by Martin J. Sherwin

Stars: Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., Florence Pugh, Josh Hartnett, Casey Affleck, Rami Malek, Kenneth Branagh.

Genre: Biography, Drama, History

Themes: American Politics, Manhattan Project, Nucleur Physicist

The story of American scientist, J. Robert Oppenheimer, and his role in the development of the atomic bomb.

Its simultaneous release with Greta Gerwig's Barbie led to the "Barbenheimer" phenomenon on social media, which encouraged audiences to see both films as a double feature. The film received critical acclaim, with particular praise for its cast, screenplay, and visuals.

In Cinemas Now (Age 15)


Daniel - ★★★★★

"This was an absolutely amazing movie that is defo in my top 10.

The cinematography was stunning and the acting was perfect. My favourite scene was when they dropped the nuclear bomb because of how much tension there was before you could actually hear it. This movie is definitely the best I’ve seen as far as it goes cast wise with some of the greatest actors of our generation starring in the film. Even though this films run time was around 3 hours, because of the amazing pacing it felt like it passed very quickly. My favourite character was J. Robert Oppenheimer because of the great performance by Cillian Murphy.

Overall this was an amazing masterpiece of a film I could recommend to anyone who enjoys movies."

Stewart - ★★★★★

"Agree with all Daniel's points above, it's a phenomenal movie, grand scale epic storytelling from a filmmaker at the top of his game alongside an outstanding cast lead by Murphy's brilliant performance. See it on the IMAX!"

Have you seen it yet?


Oppenheimer movie buzz - Why is everyone talking about Christopher Nolan's new historical drama?

When Christopher Nolan releases a movie, you cancel all other plans.

Whether you caught his audacious breakthrough Memento [2000], came aboard with the Dark Knight trilogy or were thrilled by a flawless filmography that includes The Prestige [2006], Inception [2010], Interstellar [2014], Dunkirk [2017] and Tenet [2020], you’ll salute the director as a master of the Big Idea whose films bend time, space, rules and narratives.

Now, with his new Oppenheimer movie, Nolan explores a true knife-edge moment in the early 1940s.

“When they were first talking about building an atomic bomb, and the possibilities of it, there was this idea – this moment – where they realised that there was a small possibility they might set fire to the atmosphere and destroy the world when they push that button,” Christopher Nolan told Total Film.

“And they went ahead and pushed it anyway. I found that to be an absolutely compelling moment in history that I wanted to take the audience to.”


Who or what was Oppenheimer?

Often described as ‘the father of the atomic bomb’, J. Robert Oppenheimer was a theoretical physicist and a pivotal figure in the infamous Manhattan Project that created the most devastating weapons the world had ever seen.

As director of the top-secret Los Alamos laboratory, developing a weapon of death on that scale was a scientific milestone but a moral quandary that haunted Oppenheimer for life, and that conflict burns behind Cillian Murphy’s eyes throughout Nolan’s film.


Oppenheimer plot - What happens in Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer?

The Oppenheimer film is based on Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin’s acclaimed 2005 biography of the late scientist, American Prometheus, examining both his moral agonies at creating the bomb and the terrifying global rush to armament sparked by his work.

We’ll be taken to such seismic moments as the Trinity Test of July 1945, when nuclear weapons were detonated for the first time under test conditions – all recreated by Nolan in Oppenheimer without computer graphics, and so terrifyingly realistic that you can practically warm your hands off the cinema screen.

We’ll surely witness the shattering fallout from the so-called ‘Little Boy’ and ‘Fat Man’ bombs, whose deployment on the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945 effectively brought World War II to an uneasy end.

But we’ll also be shown smaller, sadder, more personal moments, as Oppenheimer is brought low in his later years by accusations of Communist collusion – and finally dies of throat cancer in February 1967.

Just don’t look for absolute historical accuracy. As Christopher Nolan reminds us, the Oppenheimer film is seen through the eyes of the man himself and is “a very subjectively told story”.


Oppenheimer star - What do we know about Cillian Murphy in Oppenheimer?

Christopher Nolan says he always tries to write screenplays without a face in mind, but having collaborated with Cillian Murphy on no fewer than five previous films (from The Dark Knight to Dunkirk), he couldn’t resist giving the Irish actor the movie lead he deserves.

One glance from Murphy’s arctic eyes is enough to carry a movie, but the actor still put in the graft for Oppenheimer.

“I prepped by doing an awful lot of reading,” he told The Guardian of a man whose contradictory nature he considers closer than we might think to his flagship character, Peaky Blinders’ Tommy Shelby.

“I’m interested in the man and what [inventing the atomic bomb] does to the individual. The mechanics of it, that’s not really for me – I don’t have the intellectual capability to understand them, but these contradictory characters are fascinating.”


Oppenheimer cast - Who else might we spot in the Oppenheimer trailer?

The Oppenheimer cast is an embarrassment of riches.

Emily Blunt (Edge of Tomorrow, The Devil Wears Prada) plays botanist and Oppenheimer’s wife Kitty, while also taking key roles are Florence Pugh (Black Widow, Little Women, Don’t Worry Darling), Rami Malek (Bohemian Rhapsody, No Time To Die), Matt Damon (The Martian, the Bourne series), Gary Oldman (Darkest Hour), Kenneth Branagh (Belfast) and Josh Hartnett (Black Hawk Down, Pearl Harbor).

Perhaps most notable, Robert Downey Jr. (The Avengers, Avengers: Endgame) plays Lewis W. Strauss, the chairman of the US Atomic Energy Commission, whose relationship with Oppenheimer would bitterly break down in later years as he pressed for the revoking of the scientist’s security clearance.

“We all know that Robert Downey Jr. is one of the great movie stars,” said Nolan in Total Film.

“It’s so easy to forget that he’s also one of the greatest actors of all time. Watching him lose himself in that performance, and completely lose himself in a character in this way, was just an incredible reminder of just what an amazing actor he is.”


Oppenheimer cinematography - Is Oppenheimer a black-and-white movie?

It’s a mix.

Certain significant parts of Oppenheimer are presented in monochrome – a classic Nolan technique that goes right back to early films like 1998’s Following – with sudden, explosive shifts to colour that send the flames licking out across the auditorium.

Meanwhile, Nolan has long been noted for his pioneering use of large-format film and he pushes the envelope once again on Oppenheimer.

“We challenged the people at Kodak photochem to make this work for us and they stepped up,” Nolan told Total Film of a movie that represents both a technological breakthrough and a future IMAX classic.

“For the first time ever, we were able to shoot IMAX film in black-and-white. And the results were thrilling and extraordinary.”


Oppenheimer is released 21 July 2023 – and while the story, performances and historical heft would make an impact under any circumstances, it doesn’t hurt that the big screen and surround sound will give you every bead of sweat and rumble of detonation.

“Oppenheimer was there at the moment the world irreversibly changed,” says Christopher Nolan.

“And cinema is perfect for taking an audience to a point in time it could never otherwise access. So for me, the excitement of Oppenheimer’s story is to be able to give the audience this extraordinary experience that he lived through.”

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