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Is It Just Me, Or Did Oppenheimer Kind Of Suck?

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I’ve always been a fan of Christopher Nolan. I love Memento, I love the Batman Trilogy, and I found Inception to be a legitimately creative big budget film, which, you already know, is a rarity.

So when I saw those dramatic photos of Cillian Murphy that popped up on the internet last year, I was excited. I had envisioned a sleek, visually ambitious, but intellectually stimulating film that would cover the horrors of war. What I got was… something else.

The first thing I want to point out is that there is no reason to see this film in either IMAX or 70mm, despite the emphasis on seeing the film in the way “Nolan intended.” There is absolutely no advantage in doing so unless you find the prospect of  paying nearly $20 for a movie ticket exciting. If so, be my guest.

I don’t mind if a movie isn’t heavy of special effects. I think Hollywood has an overreliance on CGI over substance, but a big part of Oppenheimer’s marketing campaign was tying it to the idea that the visuals in the film were compelling to such a degree, that the only way to truly experience the it is in an IMAX theater. That was fucking bullshit. The vast majority of the film is just people talking, and the explosion scene felt like a slap in the face to all the idiots that shelled out money to see it on an IMAX screen.

However, this could be forgiven if the story, which is legitimately interesting, was told in a way that wasn’t boring, but that wasn’t the case either.

In real life, Oppenheimer was undoubtably a complicated man. He appeared to have leftist, maybe even communist leanings and while the film does explore this, it doesn’t do it in a way that is satisfying.

Did Oppenheimer struggle internally with his connection to Berkeley’s Communist Party while also empowering the United States to become the world leader in military capability? The film shows people challenge Oppenheimer for his Communist connections, but he coyly plays them down. There’s isn’t much in the way of exploring how he actually felt.

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Then there’s Oppenheimer’s Jewishness, which considering one of the enemies were the fucking Nazis, you’d think that would be worth exploring in greater detail. What was Oppenheimer’s connection to his Jewishness? There are some moments in the film that try and explore this, but they feel hollow. There are a few lines here and there that depict Oppenheimer showing concern of what if means if the Nazis get the bomb first, but despite Germany being a main antagonist in the film, their developments and what they meant to Oppenheimer or anyone else on his team were largely left in the background.

What was supposed to be the big payoff of the film is when they test the bomb. This was supposed to be the scene that justified all the IMAX hype. It was arguably the most underwhelming part of the movie.

The last hour of the film is just Oppenheimer arguing to keep his security clearance  and trying to prove that he isn’t a communist while Lewis Strauss (Robert Downey Jr’s character) goes on boring villain monologues about how much he hates Oppenheimer.

The movie then ends with Oppenheimer and Einstein talking about living with what you created. This was supposed to be the emotional crescendo of the film, but it wasn’t. It was just an awkward zoom in of Cillian’s face and then the credits rolled.

Other than that, great film. Lol.





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Abraham Woodliff - Bay Area Memelord

Abraham Woodliff - Bay Area Memelord

Abraham Woodliff is an Oakland-based writer, editor and digital content creator known for Bay Area Memes, a local meme page that has amassed nearly 200k followers. His work has appeared in SFGATE, The Bold Italic and of course, His book of short stories, personal essays and poetry entitled Don't Drown on Dry Ground is available now!