The reviews are in and critics have been blown away by Christopher Nolan’s new movie Oppenheimer.
Chronicling the rise and fall of theoretical physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer, widely considered the “father of the atomic bomb,” the historical epic was praised almost universally for its chilling treatment of the development of early nuclear bombs and for Cillian Murphy’s lead performance.
Also receiving much praise was Nolan’s amazing cast of A-list actors, including Robert Downey Jr., Matt Damon, Florence Pugh and Emily Blunt, in small supporting roles.
The film even received a perfect five stars from Brian Viner of the Daily Mail, who wrote that Nolan “superbly” balances suspenseful elements with “profound questions about the morality of leaving Hiroshima and Nagasaki as nuclear waste.”
Oppenheimer has been the subject of ‘Barbenheimer’ memes for weeks now, due to its co-opening weekend with Greta Gerwig’s equally anticipated Barbie movie, though Nolan’s epic has slightly outperformed the rosy comedy in rotten tomatoes.
It is a success! Oppenheimer received a staggering 96 percent on Rotten Tomatoes from the highest-profile critics surveyed by the site, indicating near-universal praise.
Ahead by a Nose: The movie managed to beat Barbie out with critics, though that comedy still has a fresh rating of 89 percent.
Oppenheimer currently boasts a 96 percent fresh rating from the site’s highest-profile critics, while Barbie has a still-impressive 89 percent fresh rating.
Although Murphy is far from unknown after appearing in several of Nolan’s previous blockbusters and starring in the hit crime series Peaky Blinders, many critics said Oppenheimer was the most majestic showcase of his skills to date.
In a positive review for the Los Angeles TimesJustin Chang wrote that Murphy was “superbly spare but intensely expressive” as Oppenheimer, and compared the film to Paul Thomas Anderson’s dark historical drama There Will Be Blood because of its vision of “an indelible American darkness taking root in Western soil.”
He New York TimesFilm critic Manohla Dargis listed Oppenheimer as a ‘Critics’ Pick’, noting that Murphy played the physicists with ‘feverish intensity’.
Although he criticized some of the smaller parts of the A-listers, including a small role by Rami Malek, he praised the compelling scenes of scientists debating their future weapons of mass destruction, and said that one of the “joys of the film is experiencing the kinetic thrill of intellectual discourse by proxy.”
Ann Hornaday wrote for the washington post that Murphy “commands Oppenheimer” as his deceptively still, little center,” and applauded his visceral physique and the way he “seems to grow more skeletal, ethereal, a wraith whose main hallmarks are his crystal-blue eyes, ever-present cigarette, and feline purr of a voice.”
He gave the film a perfect four stars and declared it a ‘masterpiece’.
Several critics praised Nolan’s visual style as one of the most compelling aspects of the film.
Matt Zoller-Seitz, managing editor of rogerebertgave the film four stars and praised Nolan and cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema’s masterful use of extreme close-ups, particularly when Murphy is on screen.
He wrote that the film “rediscovers the power of great close-ups of people’s faces as they grapple with who they are, and who other people have decided they are, and what they have done to themselves and others.”
Star Turn: Critics from the Los Angeles Times, The Washington Post, and the New York Times praised lead star Cillian Murphy, while the impressive cast also received praise.
Insights: Matt Zoller-Seitz, managing editor of RogerEbert.com, gave the film four stars and praised Nolan and cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema’s masterful use of extreme close-ups, particularly when Murphy is on screen.
He is back! One of the most lauded of Nolan’s high-profile cast was Robert Downey Jr., who plays Lewis Strauss, the chairman of the United States Atomic Energy Commission and Oppenheimer’s former colleague-turned-nemesis.
One of the most lauded of Nolan’s high-profile cast was Robert Downey Jr., who plays Lewis Strauss, chairman of the United States Atomic Energy Commission and a longtime colleague of Oppenheimer’s.
But their growing feud led him to urge FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover to investigate Oppenheimer in the mid-1950s, and Strauss’s unsuccessful nomination as Secretary of Commerce in 1959 was thwarted in part by his earlier battle with the academic.
David Rooney wrote for the hollywood reporter that Downey “gives the most outstanding performance in the drama,” despite a cast of “heavy fish.”
In a somewhat backhanded compliment, he alluded to Downey’s years playing Iron Man almost exclusively before finally breaking free for more adventurous fare, calling his portrayal of Oppenheimer a “reminder of the skills many of our best actors have cast aside as they frolic playing witty superheroes for big wads of money.”
Others also singled out Tom Conti for his portrayal of Albert Einstein and scenes of him in conversation with Oppenheimer that are a respite from the film’s darker sections.
In a mostly positive review of The GuardianPeter Bradshaw had much to commend but added that “for better or worse, [Nolan] uses non-Jewish actors for Oppenheimer and Einstein, two of the most famous Jews in history, and indeed fails to fully understand the anti-Semitism Oppenheimer faced as an assimilated secular American Jew.’
Among the rare negative reviews, Kristy Puchko complained about mashable that Florence Pugh, who plays psychiatrist and activist, and Oppenheimer’s first lover, Jean Tatloc, is “reduced to weeping and nakedness.”
He also criticized the script’s treatment of Emily Blunt as Oppenheimer’s wife, whom he felt was forced to defend him throughout the film.
Wasted: Among the rare negative reviews, Kristy Puchko complained to Mashable that Florence Pugh, who plays the psychiatrist and activist, and Oppenheimer’s first lover, Jean Tatloc, is “reduced to weeping and nakedness.”
Head to head: Despite objections, Oppenheimer seems to have gotten ahead of fellow opener Barbie with critics, though the comedy starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling is expected to dominate the box office.
Despite objections, Oppenheimer appears to have outperformed the opening film Barbie with critics, though the comedy starring Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling is expected to dominate the box office.
However, Oppenheimer will benefit from the more lucrative premium ticket prices, which many Nolan fans will gravitate towards.
The film achieved an unprecedented three-week block on IMAX screens, and several theaters across the country will present it on original IMAX 70mm film, the format in which Nolan shot the film, while smaller theaters still equipped with rare 70mm projectors will show the film in the regular version of that format.
70mm film, which is larger than traditional 35mm stock, has superior definition and color reproduction compared to 35mm, although both formats have largely been supplanted in theaters around the world in favor of digital projection.