Image Source: WIkimedia Commons

‘Barbenheimer’ Review

Barbenheimer, the movie event of the year has arrived. The two films, Barbie and Oppenheimer, were released on the same day much to the Internet’s delight, with their complete difference in tone and theme capturing the imagination of the meme-making community.

But do they stand up to the legacy and the hype the surrounding them online? Let’s dive in.

Barbie

MILD SPOILERS FOR BARBIE FROM HERE ON OUT

Image Source: Unsplash

Barbie is a ridiculous concoction of self-aware jokes, on the nose commentary and pink… and it is brilliant.

The film’s strength would always be decided on how serious it decided to take itself, and the ultimate answer is not very. Greta Gerwig’s direction is so key here, as she perfectly captures the audience’s split expectation. The crux of the film is a good coming of age story that will perfectly satisfy the main target audience of the Barbie products. On top of that, seamlessly woven throughout the film is an indictment of our society, one that is relevant, pertinent and overall quite thought provoking.

The script is crafted well, but with some noticeable lines that feel out of place. However it does the job in providing for all those in the audience, and ultimately it’s quite funny. Holes are poked at the filmmakers, the actors and the studio’s expense, which make it a complete laugh.

Barbie writer and director Greta Gerwig (Right) Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling are excellent in their roles as Barbie and Ken, with Gosling just having the edge over his counterpart and completely stealing the show in the third act. Either filmmaker’s have failed to tap into his clear talent for physical comedy or it’s something I have failed to notice before because his simple shoulder drops and overall demeanor are excellently well timed and pay off brilliantly.

The supporting cast are great too, although it’s clear that out of the different groups of Kens, one group were given much more of share of the script and jokes than the others. That being said, all the Kens with any meaningful amount of the screenplay excel, with special praise going towards Ncuti Gatwa.

By far and away the best supporting cast member is Gloria, played by the brilliant America Ferrera. The How to Train Your Dragon actress is fantastic in her role and provides a simply breathtaking monologue, unfortunately the catalyst for her unhappiness is somewhat abandoned by the screenplay, but she delivers her best throughout the film.

Moving on to the soundtrack, which doesn’t disappoint in the slightest and hit’s every comedy beat it needs to. The highlight is Ryan Gosling’s I’m Just Ken, which I could see getting a nod at the Oscars next year, and I would very much enjoy watching live. Lizzo also provides an opening track that sets up the film perfectly.

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

The set design leaves a little more to be desired, but with a higher focus on the overall movie, I can see why it wasn’t the top priority.

Other than that my only complaint is the ending. It felt like a bit of a let down, as there are no returns to Barbieland and it does lack a satisfying conclusion to most characters. The last joke is perfect in it’s delivery ,but it relies on a desire that Barbie hasn’t showed much wanting for in the movie and so the pay off falls flat and unearned.

Overall Barbie is a movie which is filled with great acting, great story telling and it a lot of fun. The film has no right to be as good as it is, but does fall down in some departments that let the rest of brilliant factors down a tad.

Rating: 8/10

Oppenheimer

MILD SPOILERS FOR OPPHEIMER FROM HERE ON OUT

Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Oppenheimer is a brilliant and tragic character study into a soul that changed the world, much how this film will change what we expect from cinema.

This is an act of cinematic genius. Those who love movies are often plagued by a question, whether those might be reviewers or filmmakers or just your average film lover. The question remains;

‘Are films art?’

Many will argue that no, they are not, they are vehicles for entertainment. Many will argue yes, they are destined to be viewed as an artform. So which one is Oppenheimer then?

Quite simply. Both. It is a masterpiece of the highest order, if it were a painting it would hang next to the Mona Lisa. Yet, it is so unbelievably entertaining. It is a deep dive into the psychological mindset of a man tortured by his creation. But then it is layered with comedy gold.

Albert Einstein and Robert Oppenheimer Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

Christopher Nolan had a lot to do to regain trust after the baffling and divisive Tenet. But in doing so may, he may have created one of the greatest films ever made. It is Godfather levels of studying into the eyes of one man. It is Shawshank levels of emotional display, Taxi Driver levels of psychological torture, Citizen Kane levels of cinema reimagining and Avatar levels of visual stimulation. It is perfect. Perfectly written, shot, directed and made. Mr. Nolan take a bow.

There is no getting around the fact is three hours long. Which in the age of binge watching streaming services is less of an ask that many would expect but the film does require your undivided attention. It deserves every ounce of it though, give the film the respect it needs and it will reward you ten fold.

As far the cast, Cillian Murphy should invest in some gold polish, as he will be needing it for his Oscar. I can’t say anything more than that, he is simply phenomenal in every action, facial movement, line delivery, the way he stands, walks and talks. It is setting the bar so unbelievably high, few people will get close. Even fewer will surpass it.

Emily Blunt and Robert Downey Jr. will almost certainly be having nominations being sent their way. It is too soon to know whether they are assured some silverware, as films coming later in the year may have some skin in the game, but it wouldn’t surprise me if they did.

As for the rest of the supporting cast, every single person in front of the camera is firing on all cylinders. Every single one. From the minor trade unionists, to the lawyers, to the senators and the many plethora of scientists. Everyone is fantastic and the audience is spoiled. The pain, pleasure, torture or joy at any one moment is captured so perfectly by all of the actors, all of the time.

A replica of the device used in the Trinity test Image Source: Wikimedia Commons

The detonation of the Gadget, the name of the device used in the Trinity test is one of the most mesmerising things ever shown to me on a cinema screen, if not the most. I can’t say anymore for the purposes of keeping this review as spoiler free as I can but wow.

It wasn’t just the team in front of the cameras that were on top form either, the whole team involved in the cinematography and the set design require equal praise to the cast members. For they created the perfect canvas and let the others paint a masterpiece. The costume design is also top tier and it is easy to see the technical departments taking home Oscar statues next year.

The film is all stitched together with a chilling score from Ludwig Goransson, who combines all of Nolan’s previous work into his inspiration. The thumping horns of Inception with the soft piano of Interstellar and the ear pricking violins of The Dark Knight mix to create the perfect entanglement of music, film and art.

The fireball of the Trinity test Image Source: Wikimedia Commons (Federal Government of the United States)

The use of nuclear weapons will always be controversial and it isn’t for me to say 80 years later whether or not the use of such devices can be justified or even should be justified. The film discusses these issues but they aren’t the point, and so any notion that this film is taking a side on the nuclear debate is false.

Oppenheimer will be remembered for decades to come. It will be discussed, bisected and debated and the ultimate conclusion will be the same one I will give now. This film is an masterpiece and while the effects of this movie are hard to predict from our position here, it will go down as one of the greatest films ever made.

Much like Oppenheimer couldn’t have predicted how the world would change in the time after the Trinity test, none of us can predict how this film will change the landscape of cinema, all I know is that it is will.

Rating: 10/10

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