Anyone else think Oppenheimer is overrated?

I saw the movie last week and I thought it was good but not amazing. There were a couple key problems.

1) Nolan is usually bad at character-driven films. If you're titling the movie after the man's last name, I'm expecting to be drawn into a deep study of his life, personality, motivations, etc. Nolan was the wrong man for the job. The characters seemed a little bland like they do in all his movies. 

2) The film didn't capture the significance of the era. WW2 and the following Cold War were probably the most critical moments in human history: a battle against the greatest force of evil to ever exist, and a genuine possibility of the end of the world. I wasn't on the edge of my seat as America raced to build the bomb before the Nazis. I wasn't in fear when we found out that the communist Russians had a nuke too. I wasn't in awe of the awesome powers unleashed by science. The stakes didn't feel high.

Combining these with the fact that 75% of the movie felt like a trailer, I thought it was an okay movie experience. There were a few key scenes (the Trinity nuclear test, the cabinet discussion on nuking Japan, the President Truman scene) that made up for the flaws, but it's not a masterpiece by any means.

I think Oppenheimer is a step in the right direction away from the Marvel superhero crap Hollywood fed us the past few years, but people clearly still care more about marketing hype than an actually solid movie. Call me pretentious, I guess.

 

3 hours turned out to be too long for me to sit through, especially with some of the dry narratives here and there. But looking back, I think it might supposed to be like that. The whole film feels more like an overly objectified, nearly cold, retrospective of the history, and it surprises me that it does not even dig too deep into Oppenheimer's inner struggle (for which I like). 

My favorite scene of the film was when Oppenheimer was asked when did his sense of guilt and the urge to stop H-bomb emerge, before or after he made the nuclear weapon. Even though the question comes from the mouth of an "antagonist," it was actually "the question" of the film IMO. 

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agree with above guy about it was supposed to be like that, I liked the movie though. the movie wasn't about the other characters, it's literally called Oppenheimer, every extra character helped develop or add to the story of Oppenheimer. Would you really want to see some flashbacks about his wife with her old husband or something? Nolan is big on explaining things in his movies I feel like, like the wife just explains what happened with her old husband, so maybe this is a bad example but we don't need character development when Nolan can just explain everything, maybe that is a lazy approach, who knows, but point still stands, the movie is called OPPENHEIMER,,, not 'The Development Of The Atomic Bomb And Why That Era Was Significant' lmao. as far as point 2 same thing, we didn't need a race where it was cutting back and forth between the Nazis building their bombs and us building our bombs, that would be a waste of time for a movie CALLED OPPENHEIMER...

 

if you want all the historical details watch a documentary... this isn't a documentary it's Hollywood, it's about pushing the plot forward with pace and having big explosions... you want the rest of history watch a documentary...

 
Most Helpful

I'm a rather critical and well-watched cinema/TV fan, especially compared to my other friends in their mid-20s. I thought Oppenheimer was incredible. Nolan definitely isn't a director that's known for his ability to flesh out a character study. However, he made a very strong showing with this film. Between the breathtaking cinematography and practical effects (especially for a film that's 95% dialogue), knockout performances, and intriguing historical subject matter, I feel Nolan really upped his game with this one.

I will acknowledge there were some weaker moments in pacing and storytelling on occasion, like them glossing over giving up their son to Chevalier and the weight of that never really being addressed again.

Apart from some small nitpicks of that nature, I think it was a premier example of Cinema still being alive, and people still giving a damn about the art form. Not a perfect film, but easily a 9/10. It was a 3 hour biopic that felt nearly as exhilarating as an action staple like Mission Impossible.

 

nothing wrong with Oppenheiemer imo, I just want to add that the combo of Oppenheimer vs. Barbie and their success in terms of tickets sold is currently a hot topic in Hollywood boardrooms, namely how social media publicity and extrapolated movies can inflate the consumer's interest in watching it.

I would expect in the following years to see more movies that are diametrically opposed in terms of topics and use social media as a means to make people associate themselves with one side of the cienma (barbie vs oppenheimer is something like democrat or republican/right or left memes in social media). 

I would even go so far as  to state that the guy above my comment was a victim of thepsychological factor of the social media publicity of the movie. When you see so much the movie around in blogs, memes, articles, and you were waiting for it and even went in the premiere, you would obviously be more biased to say that indeed it was a really fucking great movie because otherwise you could not justify your previous hype/won´t confess you were a victim of this publicity.

 

Hollywood has been doing counterprogramming for a long time now, but it's never really been a selling point on its own. It would be incredibly hard to manufacturer this kind of excitement and it took a specific set of films for it to happen. 

Oppenheimer and Barbie are about as far apart as you can get, tonally, and that's what got the conversation started. It was initially an either/or conversation which pitted the movies against each other but then blended into a double feature conversation of which one do you see first. The fact that they were directed by two big names in the industry and cover topics so widely understood in our culture just added to the hype. 

I imagine some soulless exec is gonna see this and try to make some sort of counterprogramming strategy out of it but it's going to fail, this only worked because it was so organic. 

 

I think it's fairly rated. My expectations were met. It's not being hyped as a GOAT movie or anything, just marketed as a very interesting historical drama and it delivered just that. Provided, Nolan's name probably made it over-rated somewhat, but all in good spirits.

Now that you say it, I agree that it's puzzling the film didn't even fully explore Oppenheimer's inner struggle and monologue. I felt the 2 phases of Oppenheimer's character arc - that when he was a cocky arrogant physicist eager to make the bomb, and when he regretted it - were choppy and didn't transition seamlessly. When you compare the 2 phases of the arc, then yea you'll marvel on how much the character developed, but the film tipped the character arc abruptly from 1 phase to the other. That tipping point was when Oppenheimer met Truman, I was confused on why this guy is suddenly unenthusiastic about the bomb and I wasn't even sure if it's intentional or not

Emily Blunt and Florence Pugh were so incredibly mid tho and I wonder if they dressed them down intentionally so as to not detract from the film's tone

 

Christopher Nolan’s name on a movie automatically inflates the rating which is dumb. From a technical standpoint, I can see how this was well done. But was it very enjoyable or interesting? Meh.

The back-and-forth sequencing combined with the fast pace made it confusing to follow. I’m skeptical anyone could walk away from this (without prior knowledge) having a really good grasp on the plot. Sure you get the overall idea but there are far too many details flying around (many without proper context) at too high a rate to fully understand. Do people honestly enjoy this kind of viewing experience??

I did think the acting was really solid and there were some cool shots and cinematic elements. Definitely well produced. But too hard to fully enjoy these things when you’re struggling to follow the plot over a 3-hour run time. I can do a 3-hour slow burn because its pace makes it digestible. This was the opposite: rapid fire and a bit all over the place.

Maybe I’m just dense..?

 

I think all in all it was a very good film, especially the sound-track and slow build of suspense in the New Mexico test. I definitely see some of your points.

I was expecting more of a general historic overview at the time, the urge to build an atomic bomb before Hitler and the Nazis got there first. 10 minutes in I realised how this was much more about Oppenheimer's private life and development as a scientist. There's a criticism that whilst Nolan produces very good films, he fails to capture fully a character. Perhaps given the anti-communist sentiment at the time and with echoes of the red-scare, it explains why most of the time not about him being a scientific whizz was about which communist sympathiser or trade unionist he was sleeping with. 

What I did find was ambiguous was Oppenheimer's sense of regret over developing the bomb. At one point, it seems that a Jewish scientist making a bomb to hopefully be used on the Nazis is one of a poetic hero, although the fact that there is never a full-blowing emotion, only glimpses when Oppenheimer resides to his fate and legacy meant I left the cinema not knowing if Oppenheimer was satisfied with his achievements.

I'd still say it was a top-tier film, even though I would've liked to see more of the historical overview, perhaps even gimmicks of actual fighting in WW2 theatres, or even the B-52 carrying Little Boy being shown. I must say that Cilian Murphy was simply brilliant, especially (now fairly common for actors to have body changes) hearing him say he ate one almond a day to become so skinny for Oppenheimer's role.

 

Nolan has never done a character driven film. Unless you're counting the Dark Knight trilogy, which is because its fucking Batman lol. Completely disagree with your "bland characters" take, maybe you're referring to Dunkirk; he made sure no character stole the show in that movie so they didn't take away from the turmoil the English army was going through (and did a fantastic job doing so). Would love to hear what characters of his you think are "bland" and compared to what other director's characters

The movie was about Oppenheimer, it's literally a biopic drama - not a historical documentary. He chose to focus on the man himself and his personal life & motivations, not the Cold War or WW2 like hundreds of documentaries have. Go watch one of them if that's what you're looking for. 

Not sure how the movie felt like a trailer? But your prior comments about the film make me believe you have zero credibility when judging Nolan's films, so I don't care to hear the explanation. 

Sure it may have been overhyped, but that's cause its Nolan the GOAT with a fantastic ensemble cast so the public was looking forward to it. Enjoy Dune 2 

 

I think you're the one who has zero credentials when judging Nolan's movies. He is notorious for having cold, placid characters in his films. The joker from The Dark Knight is the only character in all of his movies that isn't like this. This is fine in a movie like Interstellar or Inception, but in a biopic drama I need to see a more engaging portrayal of the main character. Nolan was not the right man for this job.

I mentioned Cold War and WW2 because these events strongly influenced what was going on in Oppenheimer's head. If Nolan better fleshed out the urgency of beating the Nazis, we as an audience would've better experienced the massive weight on his shoulders at this point in history. If Nolan included the images of Hiroshima and Nagasaki (which Oppenheimer himself said changed his view of the bomb), we would've better understood his horror and slight guilt of what he created. Nolan avoided a lot of these weighty historical elements and focused on his personal life and the trial instead. This was the wrong move. Oppenheimer didn't live in a vacuum. His relationship with the greater parts of history, not the kangaroo trial and his commie love affairs, was what made his life special.

The movie felt like a trailer because the first 2 hours of the movie were too fast paced and had too much background music during scenes where it made no sense to have music.

I love a lot of Nolan's other movies but the lack of tension and engaging character development made this one an okay experience for me.

 

Nolan has his usual pitfalls e.g. being overly lengthy (3+ hrs c'mon now, bring back intermissions) and trying to make up for weaker character writing with A-lister performances stemming from top notch casting. Still a good movie and a welcome respite from the usual Hollywood drivel these past few years. Overhyped overall? Yes. Amidst the current crop of modern films? This is basically peak cinema.

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Not the classic Nolan movie I’m used to be but still enjoyed it. Remember this is a movie based off of the book Prometheus, and it was more about Oppenheimer than the Manhattan project. I think he did a good job keeping the audience engaged in a 3 hour biopic about Oppenheimer. I agree with the notion that maybe Nolan should’ve focused more so on the race to beat the Nazis in building the bomb but regardless, I think it was a great movie. His characters typically are written to serve the plot, and most of the dialogue is expository. Sure the critique of Nolan is that he is cold with his characters but I enjoy that style of film. Fincher is another director who comes to mind whose shots have little emotion and characters who are quite surface level. Fincher is another plot driven director as well but Gone Girl and a few other films definitely changed my opinion of him, at least for me. I’m just happy the movies are rolling in this year. Scorsese is next, then Dennis with Dune 2. Fincher is making another film as well…excited to see movies in theater other than Marvel flicks. 

 

Scorsese is next, then Dennis with Dune 2. Fincher is making another film as well…excited to see movies in theater other than Marvel flicks. 

Same here. Also looking forward to Napoleon from Ridley Scott.

Edit: And also Megalopolis from Coppola.

 

Chris Nolan in general is criminally overrated. He is clearly a master of cinematography but not super skilled at putting actors to work. 
But he's a great excuse for internet folks to position themselves as cinema enthusiasts.

Don't get me wrong, I love the Dark Knight Trilogy and binge watch it from time to time but to position him as a modern day Kubrick is simply not adequate.
In terms of Batman, he got lucky that the plot is generally quite simple which (together with the cinematography) and Bale's gravitas essentially carries the movie. 

He's just not a great storyteller unlike other modern directors such as Danny Boyle, Michael Mann or even Ridley Scott. Rather he's good at producing a collection of impressive imagery and tacking it together for a movie. He basically produces long trailers ... 

 

I studied literature and film at an Ivy so I feel somewhat more qualified than the average moviegoer to opine on this. Oppenheimer is pseudo-intellectual horseshit, with its empty music, nonsensical scenes of atoms and molecules that look like cheap 2010 screensavers, prestige actors in a crammed cast with no meaningful lines whatsoever, and varied storylines that--even with three hours of screentime--just don't seem to intertwine. Beneath all of that pretentious posturing, there is nothing. Just an mediocre, not so good soap opera. In fact that's what I walked out of the theater disliking the most about it: it's not an honest failure, it's a cynical fraud created by someone who lacks the inspiration to pull off such a project and is more concerned with striking poses.

 

As pretentious as you sound, I agree with everything.

And yeah, the scenes of atoms looked so cheap, especially since I know Nolan is better than this. He did a great job in Interstellar with the impressive visuals of space. I didn't experience the same wonder/curiosity about science in this movie.

 

My intention in sharing my background was not to sound pretentious, but only to make clear that my feelings about the film are not because I am in any sense "anti-intellectual" or averse to "serious films," or that I failed to "understand" the movie, which is what many of Nolan's fans like to label their opponents.

 

agree

to me it was just a retelling of history from oppenheimer's perspective with an ending that makes you go "ohhh" because you finally understand what was happening the entire 3 hour movie

cinematography was cool if you saw it in 70mm imax and for that i say it was a decent movie

was it amazing? no

would i watch it again? no

i definitely think it was overrated, but it was definitely better than barbie

 

Watched it last night with my wife in theatre. Incredibly long for basically no reason. It is like a kid had to write a 10,000 word essay and inserted a bunch of filler. I also don’t really see the point of watching this in theatres btw. You aren’t missing much if you just wait for this to hit Netflix and watch it at home. 

The trailer for Dune 2 did make me regret watching Dune 1 at home though lol

 

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