Oppenheimer - 4K Blu-ray Review

Michael Scott

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Oppenheimer


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Movie: :4.5stars:
4K Video: :5stars:
Video: :5stars:
Audio: :5stars:
Extras: :4stars:
Final Score: :4.5stars:




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Movie

This year has been full of movie surprises. Last week I didn’t expect to find a 10 sequel to the Saw series to be one of the best of the franchise, nor did I expect a silly looking movie about Barbie dolls to become this years biggest smash sensation hit. Couple that with the fact that Christopher Nolan was putting out 3 hour epic about the story of the scientist who made the atomic and I was SURE that this summer was going to be bland. Don’t get me wrong, but Oppenheimer had all the ear marks of a niche Nolan film that was going to appeal to film enthusiasts, but the general population would naturally shun the over long drama for something more palatable. So color me shocked when Barbie blew up astronomically, and actually took Oppenheimer with it. Double featuring Barbie and Oppenheimer exploded on social media, with it being memed to death as Barbenheimer. I thought it would last a week or two and then fade off, but Oppenheimer followed Barbie to the top, becoming one of the biggest surprise hits of the fall.

Oppenheimer tells the story of one Robert Oppenheimer (Cillian Murphy, who turns in the performance of his life) and his rise to becoming one of America’s most well known men during the 1940s and 50s. You see, Robert Oppenheimer was none other than the man who helmed the U.S. creation of the Atomic bomb, and hailed by a nation as the man who brought World War II to a close. During WWII Lt. General Leslie Groves (Matt Damon) appoints Oppenheimer to work on top secret “Manhattan Project” and race the Germans to the finish line at creating a nuclear weapon before the Nazis could create one, thus effectively winning the war.

Told through a series of fractured timelines, Nolan crafts a cunning tale of greed, narcissism, hubris, naivety, all wrapped up in the guise of thriller. I have no idea how Nolan took the dry and rather academic life of one Robert Oppenheimer and turned it into a thriller, but he did. The entire film you know exactly how the film is going to turn out if you’re even the mildest history buff, but I was enraptured the entire 3 hour run time. The story (while fractured) is told in 3 distinct phases. The first being Oppenheimer’s naive stage of life, where he is optimistic about how the bomb will be used, and how little “blame” is on his shoulders. The second is more grim and foreboding, as everyone starts to realize the magnitude of what they’re creating. And of course we have the final hour of the film where Nolan portrays the repentant and grieving Oppenheimer who spent the rest of his life trying to make up for the devastation he feels he caused.

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Now here’s the kicker. I know there’s a lot of controversy over the real life Oppenheimer, and whether he really is the good guy the movie made him out to be. I’ve heard him called a Narcissist, a crazed publicity hound who just wanted to play god. I’ve heard him called a tragic hero, and everything in between. Since I have zero knowledge outside of history book texts regarding the figure, I have to go off of what the movie tells me and leave my real life opinions at the door. And what we have on film is a rather engaging drama that veers into thriller territory for the final act. It’s expertly directed, with Nolan using his trademark diversions in the narrative to keep us guessing on how the hearing is going to go that brackets all of this bomb making works, and manages to pretty much include every actor in Hollywood in the film. Honestly, I feel as if his producers asked him how many known actors he wanted in the film and Nolan simply replied “yes”.

While the movie is one of the largest ensemble movies I have ever seen, with some great stand out performances by Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Jason Clarke and Florence Pugh, there are two roles that just stand out as jaw dropping performances. And those two performances would be Robert Downey Jr. as Lewis Strauss, and Cillian Murphy as Oppenheimer himself. Both of them give absolutely legendary and career performances. Downey is near unrecognizable as the slimy politician, but it’s really Murphy who gives us the most perfect performance I’ve ever seen. He falls so deeply into the role of the most famous bomb maker in history (pun intended) that I have a hard time looking over his career and finding a performance from his repetoire that comes CLOSE to how well he performs here. Simply put, this is a must watch if only for the performances by those two men alone.




Rating:

Rated R for some sexuality, nudity and language




4K Video: :5stars: Video: :5stars:
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Being Nolan, there’s no digital source here, as he made direct use of 65mm and 65mm IMAX cameras to capture Oppenheimer (even going so far as to make a specialty run of 70mm Kodack black and white film stock to use for the black and white scenes) and it looks GORGEOUS in 4K. The Blu-ray is next to perfect, but the 2160p experience is simply superb. The film makes great use of differing color palettes, ranging from the weirdly dark and orange hues of Oppenheimer working on the bomb, desaturated gray tones inside of the Los Alamos base, black and white flash backs, and some startlingly bright and natural looking outdoor scenes as contrast (such as when talking to Albert Einstein by the lake). Fine details are jaw dropping, showing every bit of detail on Oppenheimers face depending on how much aging makeup he had on at the time, as well as a barely noticeable layer of film grain. The IMAX shifting ratio wasn’t really noticeable to my eyes, but I did catch it shifting once or twice (usually with those really bright outdoor shots that I mentioned), and overall this is just digital perfection.








Audio: :5stars:
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Yes, yes, I know. This is Nolan and Nolan is a stickler for his 5.1 mixes and refusing to use Atmos or DTS:X object bases audio mixes. He’s a rabid fan of being a purist to old 6 channel tracks and is heavily involved in the mixing of his tracks, so no Atmos for your guys today. That being said, this is a killer track that is on top of the world right here. It’s loud, powerful, mixed with a soft and reserved clarity that is reserved for the more dialog centric portions of the film. Much like the video, Nolan paints a picture with the audio here, making great use of silence, echoes in the hall, and even the warbling and almost chaotic sound of his score to build intensity. That moment when they test the bomb out in the desert is a thing of beauty. That sudden rush, followed by dead silence, only for the shock wave to catch up to the listening position and just SLAM you back in your seat is probably the single best portion of the entire audio track. Not to mention how Nolan uses the frenetic cacophony to cue the audience in sheer “offness” of how Oppenheimer himself thinks. Simply put, this is an utterly amazing track that makes great use of the surrounds, the dialog, and how to use sound (and lack of sound) to really set the mood. Probably one of my favorite mixes of the year even with the “plebian” 5.1 DTS-HD MA mixing.












Extras: :4stars:
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• THE STORY OF OUR TIME: THE MAKING OF OPPENHEIMER*
-- NOW I AM BECOME DEATH - The cast, crew and producers join Christopher Nolan in sharing the personal stories that made them passionate about the project's ambitious design for bridging multiple genres.
-- THE LUMINARIES - OPPENHEIMER's all-star cast discusses how they synthesize the script's dramatic narrative with the real lives of historical figures to embody their complex characters.
-- THE MANHATTAN PROJECT - To visualize Oppenheimer's ability to see different dimensions and to recreate the historic Trinity test, filmmakers developed unique techniques to craft stunning effects without using CGI.
-- THE DEVIL OF DETAILS - A look at how production designer Ruth De Jong and team recreated the entire town of Los Alamos with period-accurate props, spectacular sets and painstaking attention to authenticity.
-- WALKING A MILE - Costume and makeup craftspeople populate OPPENHEIMER's immersive environments with iconic figures by utilizing thousands of pieces of clothing and cutting-edge prosthetic applications.
-- CAN YOU HEAR MUSIC? - Working closely with Christopher Nolan, Ludwig Göransson composes a deeply personal, historically expansive score ranging from the organic to the alien to accompany the visual landscape.
-- WE CAN PERFORM THIS MIRACLE - Christopher Nolan's closest collaborators demonstrate how his artistic vision creates camaraderie that drives his talented crew to continue breaking new ground in filmmaking.
• TRAILERS
• INNOVATIONS IN FILM: 65MM BLACK-AND-WHITE FILM IN OPPENHEIMER - FotoKem opens the door to its film labs, where new technologies are invented for using color and black & white 65mm film to visualize OPPENHEIMER's dual timelines while pushing the format further forward.
• MEET THE PRESS Q&A PANEL: OPPENHEIMER - Chuck Todd moderates a conversation where Christopher Nolan, author Kai Bird, and physicists Dr. Kip Thorne, Dr. Thom Mason and Dr. Carlo Rovelli reflect on the fascinating science and doomsday concerns OPPENHEIMER illustrates onscreen.
• TO END ALL WAR: OPPENHEIMER & THE ATOMIC BOMB - Explore how one man's relentless drive and invention of the atomic bomb changed the nature of war forever, led to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of people and unleashed mass hysteria.













Final Score: :4.5stars:


I went into Oppenheimer completely blind and ended up really enjoying the movie. I can stand 2.5 hours movies and below, but 3 hour films usually require an intermission, but for some reason I was just entranced the entire time. Only once did I even get up for a drink of water, and back to the seat I was. It’s not a perfect film, but I can definitely see why Nolan got so much praise for this one. Much like Dunkirk this is not going to be everyone’s cup of tea. The film is 3 hours long, fractured with it’s narrative chronology, but is filled with absolutely career defining performances all around. Not to mention the disc itself is basically this year’s demo disc. My recommendation is going to be a FULL two thumbs up all around.


Technical Specifications:

Starring: Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., Florence Pugh, Josh Hartnett, Gary Oldman
Directed by: Christopher Nolan
Written by: Christopher Nolan, Kai Bird, Martin Sherwin
Aspect Ratio: 2.20:1 HEVC / 1.78:1 HEVC (shifting aspect ratio)
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, French, Spanish DTS 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Studio: Universal
Rated: R
Runtime: 180 minutes
Blu-Ray Release Date: November 21st, 2023
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Recommendation: Great Buy

 
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tripplej

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Thanks for the review. Will get this one.
 

Todd Anderson

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I’m on the fence about this film. I appreciate it for being some grand work of art (and especially appreciate being able to understand the dialog), but it was a chore to watch.

There’s some very compelling plot lines that investigate morality and implications of invention. But, I found myself not caring about other aspects of the film… especially Downey’s aspirations and Oppenheimer’s drive to keep his status in the scientific and political communities.

I have a real love/hate with Nolan. Some of his works strike me as pure artistry and breathtaking story telling… others stretch a bit too far past entertainment and begin to feel more like an albatross I need to carry just to say I carried it.

Not sure if I’ll watch Oppenheimer from start to finish again. Who knows, if I do, it might strike me differently!
 

Michael Scott

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I’m on the fence about this film. I appreciate it for being some grand work of art (and especially appreciate being able to understand the dialog), but it was a chore to watch.

There’s some very compelling plot lines that investigate morality and implications of invention. But, I found myself not caring about other aspects of the film… especially Downey’s aspirations and Oppenheimer’s drive to keep his status in the scientific and political communities.

I have a real love/hate with Nolan. Some of his works strike me as pure artistry and breathtaking story telling… others stretch a bit too far past entertainment and begin to feel more like an albatross I need to carry just to say I carried it.

Not sure if I’ll watch Oppenheimer from start to finish again. Who knows, if I do, it might strike me differently!

that's how I am with Nolan too. I loved this, but was very frustrated with Tenet....wanted to beat my head against the wall.
 

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Thanks for the review. I watched Interstellar when it first came out and I didn't care for it much. Gave it another watch last week and really enjoyed it. I didn't like Inception though. I just ordered this one. By the way it is sold out in many places.
 

Todd Anderson

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Asere, I know you and I love Interstellar! One of my top 5 favorites

I look forward to getting your take on Oppenheimer. I think I owe it to myself to give it another watch… after all, Interstellar didn’t hit me well the first time I saw it. I actually left the theater 1/2 way through the film (tho, if I’m being honest, it had more to do with the fact that the IMAX cinema I saw it in had a washed out image and the audio was cranked to ungodly levels of loud.
 

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I'm trying to figure out how I would like this movie... just doesn't seem all that interesting to me. The trailer does nothing for me at all, but I see a lot of folks like it.
 

Michael Scott

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I'm trying to figure out how I would like this movie... just doesn't seem all that interesting to me. The trailer does nothing for me at all, but I see a lot of folks like it.

Nolan's films are definitely not for everyone, and while this one isn't as esoteric as his sci-fi films, it most definitely is a slow burn drama thriller.
 

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The sound and cinematography are top notch
 
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