The cinematic event of the century known as Barbenheimer has arrived and with it comes an array of discourse over which will perform better at the box-office, some even declaring you have to pick a side for such a battle. Barbie and Oppenheimer share a release date and that's just about it so, if you truly love cinema, checking out both films from two renowned filmmakers is the only option. Christopher Nolan's Oppenheimer sets out to blow our minds with a character study like no other, Nolan utilising modern technology for maximum impact.

This epic thriller thrusts audiences into the pulse-pounding paradox of the enigmatic American scientist, J. Robert Oppenheimer (Cillian Murphy),who must risk destroying the world in order to save it, by creating the atomic bomb.
Oppenheimer is an ambitious character study from Christopher Nolan, epic in its scale and subject matter while also being delivered in such powerful fashion. A non-linear narrative aids Nolan in keeping such a frantic tempo to this that it starts to feel like an unstoppable freight train building to an almighty collision. Didn't really know what to expect going into the film but it certainly surprised me in its approach, Nolan focusing heavily on the psyche of his titular subject with some creative and haunting sequences towards the latter stages of the film. For such an important moment in the history of the world, Nolan takes his time to tell it how he wants to and the results are spectacular.

Every aspect of Oppenheimer just clicks into place seamlessly to make it such a fascinating cinematic experience but the most fascinating element of it to me is Jennifer Lame's editing. It's some astonishing work to keep track of where we are in the timeline but aiding this three hour epic feel more like two is almost magic. Honestly, this behemoth of a film absolutely flies by. The pristine presentation of the film in 70MM IMAX really does make Hoyte van Hoytema's cinematography pop while Ludwig Göransson's score perfectly suits the time-based project the film depicts. The film's highlight is the Trinity Test, worth the IMAX admission price alone, breathtakingly gorgeous in the format with some stellar sound design to boot.
Coming to the performances, Cillian Murphy leads the film with a sensational turn as the determined Oppenheimer. He's always been an actor that can do so much with his eyes and he utilises them again throughout to great effect, whether it be feeling the pressure of a tight schedule to have the bomb ready or the guilt of being the man ultimately responsible for the creation of such a device used to harm innocent people, as well as potentially leave the future of the world hanging by a thread. It's a heavy toll to be burdened with creating such a destructive force and Murphy's journey as the character reflects this superbly.

The supporting cast, even if they appear in the film for a matter of a few scenes, is made up of instantly recognisable actors, it's actually ridiculous. Robert Downey Jr. has shown he has serious acting chops before, maybe not as much in the MCU, and he's great here as Lewis Strauss. No one else really feels as if they have significantly more screen time than others but the likes of Matt Damon, Emily Blunt and Florence Pugh show their quality and make even smaller roles feel memorable, Blunt with a scene towards the end in particular.

Oppenheimer is a showstopper of a film from Christopher Nolan, culminating with yet another unforgettable closing sequence from one of the best directors to ever do it. With both this and Barbie being released on the same day, cinema is well and truly alive.

Verdict: ★★★★★


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