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Oppenheimer (Universal) UHD/Blu-ray Review

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    Ian Jane
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  • Oppenheimer (Universal) UHD/Blu-ray Review

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    Released by: Universal
    Released on: November 21st, 2023.
    Director: Christopher Nolan
    Cast: Cillian Murphy, Emil Blunt, Matt Damon, Robert Downey Jr., Florence Pugh
    Year: 2023
    Purchase From Amazon

    Oppenheimer – Movie Review:

    Christopher Nolan's 2023 film, Oppenheimer, beings in 1926 where a Jewish doctoral student named J. Robert Oppenheimer (Cillian Murphy) is enrolled at Cavendish Laboratory and studying physics under the remarkably demanding Patrick Blackett (James D'Arcy). Stressed by his studies and his homesickness, Oppenheimer injects Blackett's apple with poison but before the teacher can ingest it, Oppenheimer takes it back and disposes of it. A short time later, a visit with a scientist named Niels Bohr (Kenneth Branagh) results in his transferring to Göttingen where he finishes his studies in theoretical physics and earns his PhD while befriending Isidor Isaac Rabi (David Krumholtz).

    With their studies done, Oppenheimer and Rabi meet theoretical physicist Werner Heisenberg (Matthias Schweighöfer) while travelling Switzerland and from there, Oppenheimer begins teaching at Berkeley where he meets teaches alongside Ernest Lawerence (Josh Hartnett) and soon marries a biologist and former communits named atherine "Kitty" Puening (Emily Blunt). Oppenheimer, however, is unfaithful and he has an affair with a Communist Party member named Jean Tatlock (Florence Pugh) who later takes her own life.

    When, in 1938, nuclear fission is discovered, Oppenheimer starts theorizing how it could be weaponized and, in 1942, he's recruited by General Leslie Groves (Matt Damon) to lead The Manhattan Project and eventually create the first atomic bomb and beat the Nazi's to the finish line. He does this with help from his team - Rabi, Edward Teller (Benny Safdie), Enrico Fermi (Danny Deferrari), Leo Szilard (Máté Haumann) and David Hill (Rami Malek) and through consultations from Albert Einstein (Tom Conti). As the development moves forward even after Hitler is taken out of power, Harry Truman orders Japan be bombed and Oppenheimer deals with the moral repercussions of his role in the massive death tolls caused by something he helped create, later joining the United States Atomic Energy Commission and coming into conflict with Chairman Lewis Strauss (Robert Downey Jr.).

    Written and directed by Nolan, who was working off of his first screenplay with this project, Oppenheimer is a sprawling three hour epic that is more than just a typical bio-pic. It’s an impressive technical achievement in its use of sound design, cinematography and effects work to not only tell the story of its subject but also pull the viewer in and take them along for the ride. This is all anchored by some really strong acting, with Murphy well-cast as the lead and doing a fantastic job of anchoring the film, will surrounded by an equally talented supporting cast, each of whom brings their A-game to the production. You wouldn’t necessarily think a three hour film about a scientist would be especially exciting or tense but Nolan’s movie is both those things, and despite the lengthy running time the movie never feels too long.

    Oppenheimer – UHD/Blu-ray Review:

    Oppenheimer arrives on 4k UHD in a nice a mostly 2.20.1 widescreen (the image does sometimes transition back and forth to 1.78.1) transfer in HEVC 2160p high definition encoded transfer that looks just as good as you’d expect a major studio blockbuster to look on the format. Detail is outstanding in pretty much every frame and the colors looks fantastic as well, even if the movie doesn’t necessarily bombard you with a constant barrage of bright primaries, given that much of it takes place indoors in rather drab interiors. Black levels are reference quality and skin tones always look perfect. The image is, maybe not surprisingly, spotless from start to finish and the transfer is free of any noise reduction, edge enhancement or noticeable compression issues.

    Audio chores are handled by an impressive 24-bit DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track in the film’s native English. English SDH, French and Spanish while French and Spanish audio tracks are provided in DTS 5.1 Surround Sound. An English language descriptive audio track is also provided. Some will certainly lament the absence of an Atmos track but what’s here sounds excellent. The track is immersive and enveloping, filling the room nicely but careful not to bury subtle details in the mix. Dialogue is always clean and clear and the score sounds fantastic. The low end comes through with plenty of power and the mix is free of any hiss or distortion.

    There are no extras on the UHD or on the first Blu-ray disc, both contain only the movie, but a second Blu-ray disc is fairly loaded with supplemental content starting with a seven-part behind the scenes documentary titled The Story of Our Time: The Making Of Oppenheimer. The first part, the seven minute Now I Am Become Death, sees Nolan talk about what initially intrigued him about the story, how the view of nuclear war has changed over the years, the book that inspired the movie, thoughts on the script and other details. The eleven minute The Luminaries takes a look at the cast and the characters that they play while the seventeen minute The Manhattan Project covers the pros and cons of shooting the feature in IMAX and the visuals employed in the movie. The Devil Of The Details is a seventeen minute piece that covers the period detail required for the sets and production design work while the six minute Walking A Mile goes over the costume, hair styles and makeup work needed to get the period details right. Can You Hear The Music? is a seven minute piece that covers the creation and importance of the film’s score, while the seven minute We Can Perform This Miracle explores Nolan’s work as director on the film and the contributions of many of the crew members that he worked with on the project.

    Innovations in Film: 65MM Black And White Film In Oppenheimer is a nine minute piece that explores why the IMAX format was used, what makes it different from other film formats, and what went into shooting on 65mm black and white film as well as what went into editing the movie and the complexities of making sure that the image was projected properly both at IMAX venues and standard theaters as well.

    The thirty-five minute Meet The Press Q&A Panel: Oppenheimer featurette includes Nolan, author Kai Bird, physicist Kip Thorn, Los Alamos' Thoams Mason, physicist Carlo Rovelli and moderator Chuck Todd in what is basically a roundtable discussion of what went into making the film, the history behind the story the film tells, some of the science behind specific details in the movie and more.

    This disc also includes an eighty-seven minute documentary titled To End All War: Oppenheimer & The Atomic Bomb that was directed by Christopher Cassel and that goes over, in quite a bit of detail, the real-life history that inspired the book and film. It’s essentially a biographical examination of Oppenheimer’s life and times and it’s a great companion piece to the feature.

    Finishing up the extras are a teaser trailer, a full theatrical trailer, an IMAX exclusive trailer, an alternate trailer, a five minute ‘Opening Look’ promotional spot, menus and chapter selection options.

    This release comes packaged with a slipcover as well as an insert that contains a code that can be redeemed for a high definition digital download of the feature.

    Oppenheimer - The Final Word:

    Oppenheimer is a genuinely excellent film, both from a technical standpoint as well as both narrative and performance based standpoints, with Murphy really doing a fantastic job in the lead. The UHD/Blu-ray combo pack from Universal looks and sounds fantastic and the wealth of supplemental material does a great job of exploring the history of both the film and the man who inspired it.


    Click on the images below, or right click and open in a new window, for full sized Oppenheimer Blu-ray screen caps!

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