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The Echo
Taylor University, Upland, IN
Monday, June 24, 2024
The Echo
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“Oppenheimer” Nukes the Box Office

The film made $82.4 million at the box office during its’ opening weekend, according to CNBC

The latest and greatest hit film from Christopher Nolan has arrived at the theaters, and it is leaving mushroom clouds around the world. 

“Oppenheimer” (2023, rated R) was released on July 21st, 2023 alongside Warner Brothers’

“Barbie.” This created the nationwide marrying of both films, making the cultural phenomenon “Barbenheimer.” It is nearly impossible to talk about the global impact of either film without mentioning the other.

“Barbenheimer was some of the most fun I've ever had with a movie release,” Donovan said, an employee at the Muncie AMC Theaters location. “There is a lot of cultural energy behind both Barbie and Oppenheimer.” 

As of September 2023, Barbie and Oppenheimer grossed a combined total of over $2 billion dollars at global box offices, according to Collider.

Focusing on Oppenheimer (portrayed brilliantly by Cillian Murphy), there is a lot worth mentioning. The film has a runtime of over three hours, packed with long scenes and story beats that makes Nolan’s other films blush. 

“It’s [Christopher Nolan]’s first take at a biopic, so it is very interesting to see how he makes boardrooms and interrogations interesting,” Lincoln Reed, Taylor University assistant professor of film and media arts, said.“He wasn’t afraid to take a nuanced view of a complex person.”

Cillian Murphy did a fantastic job of showing the constant moral battle going on in Oppenheimer’s head that is evidenced by Oppenheimer’s signature thousand-yard stare portrayed throughout the film. Every actor in this movie really brought it. 

This film had too many stars for this review to get into, but rest assured, they all brought their own unique flavor to the screen. Especially considering that the actors were portraying real people, and very accurate to their real-life counterparts.

When making a film of a true event, it is critical to get the details right. One specific issue worth highlighting was brought up by Alvis Foster, senior medical physicist of radiation oncology and radiation safety officer of I.U. Health Ball Memorial Hospital Cancer Center. 

Foster’s concerns were in regards to the explosive charges around the plutonium bomb.

“They portrayed it as a fairly simplistic problem that they solved, when it really took around a year and a half to figure out,” he said.

A common criticism of the film was the lack of actual Los Alamos content. 

“There really wasn’t much reason for them to put a lot of those technical details in, but I would’ve enjoyed seeing that portrayed in the film,” Foster said. 

While Los Alamos does make up a large part of the film, most modern moviegoers were likely expecting there to be more of an emphasis placed on the construction of the bomb and the testing. 

It can be harder for viewers to connect more to the legal jargon that makes up the third act of the film, which is where most criticism comes from. The effort put into the scenes of the bomb was astounding, and likely left a lot of viewers wanting more, just to thrust them into the trenches of lawyers and hearings.

“That’s what I was expecting, more of the creation of the device, when in actuality it was more about his post-war headaches,” Reed said.

A topic that has circulated since the film first released in theaters was the presence of graphic nudity on screen. Christopher Nolan, as a director, has shied away from such topics and even such imagery in his films, making the three scenes with graphic nudity feel unnecessary. 

Is this film worth a rewatch? If you have three hours to waste and a deep desire for either good stories or incredible production value, absolutely. Who is this movie perfect for? Anyone with a general interest in World War Two, the atomic bomb, or the titular Oppenheimer himself. “Oppenheimer” earns its rank alongside the best with a score of 9 out of 10.

Agree with me? Disagree? Wanna talk about this film? Any film? Suggest one? Feel free to email me at devin_smith1@taylor.edu