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Category:    Home > Reviews > Drama > Biopic > History > WWII > Science > Character Study > Epic > Oppenheimer 4K (2023/Universal 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)

Oppenheimer 4K (2023/Universal 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)

4K Ultra HD Picture: A- Picture: B Sound: B Extras: B Film: A-*

Nuclear energy and nuclear war has been the subject of many a documentary, plot devices in endless thrillers and sometimes, has been dealt with in the strongest manner in films like The China Syndrome, Fail Safe, Hiroshima Mon Amour and of course, Kubrick's Dr. Strangelove. If one wants to say more on the subject and tell another important story with more original and new points on the matter, it is not easy, so when I heard Christopher Nolan was going to make an epic biopic on the man who helped create the nuclear bomb (and there were actually two types,) I was ready for something big, important and special. Oppenheimer 4K (2023) is the remarkable result.

The underrated Cillian Murphy plays the title historical figure, challenging the establishment and even the brilliant Albert Einstein (the always reliable Tom Conti in an impressive turn) in trying to figure out how subatomic science will work, then have to accelerate the study when a race for a weapon based on such unheard of technology is sped up by the advent of WWII and rise of the Axis Powers, especially The Nazis. The U.S. Government intervenes, makes Oppenheimer the head of the project and the hard work begins.

Running three hours, the film NEVER feels that long, taking its time to build up what happened as the urgency becomes increasingly dire as more news quickly develops and unknown to the public at large, the stakes grow as astronomically as the science itself. The screenplay wastes no time in building up its main story, its subplots and even has a few historical and cinematic intertextual references. It is a film accessible to all viewers, but the more you know about the situation and time, the better its gets, which also helps repeated viewing as you think more about it and learn more, as well as get re-reminded of other aspects of it all. Nolan at the top of his game as much as ever.

Of course, it has exceptional costume design, production design, thoroughly researched to not only feel period-accurate,but it sure feels like it. Then there is the great supporting cast that includes Emily Blunt (back in the form she is best capable of,) Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., Florence Pugh, Josh Hartnett, Casey Affleck, Rami Malek, Tony Goldwyn, James D'Arcy, David Krumholtz, Michael Angarano, Benny Safdie, Josh Peck, Gustaf Skarsgard, Olivia Thurby, James Remar, Gary Oldman and Kenneth Branagh. It is one of the best casts of the last few years and the choices are so remarkable and dead on, they only further enhance each other and the film.

Despite not being a film about the fictional fantastic, realism included, this would be one of Nolan's few films totally realistic films. I figured it would work critically, but would it also be a hit? Well, when it came out around the same time as Barbie, who knew both would go right through the roof. Intertwined together, possibly as two nightmare visions of a bad future or worse, if you are really cynical, they became the ''My Sharona'' of the moment as Superhero films collapsed the way disco music did by late 1979 (political targeting aside) as those films went into overkill mode. Martin Scorsese's comments about them not being real cinema sadly coming true in multi-billion-dollar-losing fashion.

It is also one of the ever-decreasing (especially with a big budget) few films by grown, intelligent, mature adults made by them for them and the rest who can keep up if they choose. This is the kind of film the big studios used to make all the time, but started giving up on in the 1980s as broader, more commercial fare and mall cineplexes started to kick in, making its success all the more great into the awards season where it is a top contender over and over again as we post. Sadly, the world happens to be closer to another actual use of nuclear weapons and the film could not be more timely.

I intend to see it a few more times, preferably on photochemical film. This is something I rarely encounter with new feature films, because it is all too rare for movies this good to get made. The reasons are for another essay and another time, but its timing is uncanny and with all the hype and new wave of hate going on and especially in the last few years on the upswing like nothing we have seen in decades, though any time is the time for what will be soon considered a classic. Nolan continues to be on one of the biggest commercial and critical rolls in cinema history.

Definitely see this one, or see it again, though if you already have, I know you'll be taking it on again soon. It might even be greater than I thought after the first screening.

As for playback performance, both discs offer a mix of 2.20 X 1/1.78 X 1 aspect ratio framing, totally shot on photochemical negative film by Kodak, including three Vision 3 color negative stocks and a new variant of Double-X black and white negative, used in part as a throwback to the Super-X and Super-XX monochrome film of the times the film takes place. Though it lacks Dolby Vision, the 2160p HEVC/H.265, HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image on the 4K disc is still stunning and impressive throughout with amazing depth, detail and some of the best color range (and in the case of the Double-X, gray scale) and to think, this is a reduction of sorts form the original film, the most advanced photochemical film of its kind ever made!

The 1080p digital High Definition image transfer on the regular Blu-ray is good for the now-older format, but no match for the 4K, which sold out immediately upon release and is rightly becoming one of the biggest 4K discs ever made.

Director of Photography Hoyte Van Hoytema, ASC, FSF, NSC, works with Nolan for the third time and continues to be one of the great cameramen of the moment with stunning work on Ad Astra, Her, Nope, The Fighter and the bond film Spectre. He's the kind of artist so amazing that when I hear he will be lensing a movie, that just ups my anticipation and expectation. The demo shots on this disc are endless and it is a serious must have for all serious film fans and home theater owners.

Though the sound was 12-track in the best theatrical presentations, including Dolby Atmos and DTS: X, that is being held back (for now?) and we get a still-strong DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mix despite the fact 4K and Blu-ray discs can offer both types of soundtracks. It is still a very impressive soundtrack and mixdown in this case, so though I wish the other option(s) existed here, it is solid and fuses well with the image.

Extras include Digital Code Copy, while the discs add...


  • 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 Goransson 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.


  • 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.

  • and 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.

- Nicholas Sheffo


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