As a movie fan, this is quite something to experience. I don’t think there has ever been a time when this happened previously. I know I have done double bills before, but I’ve never seen massive amounts of people do it. We are definitely part of film history in the making.
The big question that comes with this is: Are these two movies even good?
The short answer is yes, they are indeed good. The bit longer answer is: Oppenheimer is a straight-up masterpiece. Barbie was good, but I didn’t actually like it. Don’t worry, I am prepared to give you the extended version of both, but I must warn you that this is a SPOILER review for both movies. So if you weren’t part of the crowd that spent 5 hours in the cinema, do it and return later. Trust me, you won’t regret it.
I didn’t have much choice, so I had to watch Barbie first and then Oppenheimer. This means that you’ll get the reviews in this exact order.
Greta Gerwig’s style is not for me. I was suspicious of this while watching (and turning off halfway through) Lady Bird. It became blatantly obvious with Barbie. My first feeling once the end credits started to roll was disappointment. This must be strange to read now after seeing all the praise this movie got from other critics. I don’t think it was a bad movie, but there was a much deeper and more meaningful story, and they just scratched the surface. I wasn’t the only one thinking this. Going to the restroom after it was filled with girls in pink expressing their disappointment. Just to mention a few gems:
“I am a feminist, but this was not it.”
“I expected so much more from this movie, but I guess the hype was bigger than it should have been.”
“So if I played with my Barbie and Ken and they fell in love, that is considered wrong now?”
“But why did they make it look like all men are absolute trash, and that’s the only thing Ken gathers from the real world? Only the bad things?”
These were the comments that really stuck with me, but there were a lot of: “Welp, this was bad.” sentences among the people. I caught a few men talking about it, too, while we were waiting to be let in for Oppenheimer, but their consensus was: “This wasn’t made for us.”
I honestly thought that this movie would go and dig deep into self-discovery, and while it did have its moments, it was mostly a letdown. Felt like a commercial of “Hey guys, look, Margot Robbie is the perfect choice for Barbie.” It was all good until Barbie starts having a bad day and finds out that she needs to find the little girl that plays with her in the real world. I was ready for the tone change of what going into the real world will mean for them and how that will open Barbie’s eyes. And… well… other than one absolutely gorgeous and heart-wrenching moment, it never really happens. Barbie sits down on a bench to try and find the little girl with some telepathic connection. Once she opens her eyes again, she sees this old lady next to her and she finally starts to really look around. Notices the small little things that make life wonderful, the interactions people have with each other, the natural beauty, and the way the Sun shines on all. Billie Eilish’s What Was I Made For song plays instrumentally in the background, and I noticed myself tearing up, just like Barbie. And then it all gets ruined by Ryan Gosling’s scene, where he discovers that there’s this thing called patriarchy, and the only info he gathers about men is that they have to be muscular, flex a lot, love horses, beer, and need to be cool all the time and the ladies should worship them. And I was sitting there like: seriously? I won’t even go into much detail on the fact that the moment Barbie and Ken arrive in the real world, Gerwig decides to showcase the worst in men: the cat-calling, the staring, and unnecessary comments. I thought it wouldn’t go further than that, but then… it did. Ken goes back to Barbieland, and by the time Barbie arrives back with her new companions (and the characters that could have been the key to a much deeper story here), it is all turning into Kendom. Kens are taking over with brainwashed Barbies, who serve them mindlessly. And I think I sighed very loudly.
Barbie is in ruins after seeing what happened to her dreamland; she literally stops functioning properly and lies motionless on the ground. But then, through a twist, the movie sort of saves itself. After America Ferrara’s fantastic speech and gorgeous performance, the brainwashed Barbies – wink at how people used to think that Barbies were brainwashing young girls – wake up and fetch a plan to turn the Kens against each other simply by making them jealous of each other. And it works.They start a war while Ryan Gosling sings for us, and we get an utterly absurd scene with dance choreography where the Kens unite. This is where the movie redeemed itself a bit for me. I won’t even try and put it properly into words. Let me just quote a part from Katie Pickles’ article:
“An appendage no more, it is Ken, not Barbie, who whines about blonde fragility and every night being a girls’ night, and who now sings of seeking to push women around and take them for granted. This is where the movie is at its most profound. Ken, not Barbie, is the victim of sexism. As Barbie has flourished, Ken has been left behind. Kens are the objectified, excluded second sex.”
The conversation and the discovery of self-worth between Barbie and a crying Ken are wonderful. It’s okay to be your own person; it’s fine to discover the world and to want more out of life. I also appreciated how Barbies and Kens realized that they needed to work together and build new things together in order for change to be possible. Beautiful messaging, indeed.
Yet, it still won’t be my movie. There are so many problems with it in my mind, while at the same time, I can completely see the appeal and understand people who enjoy it. It is definitely a genre-defying movie. I didn’t like it, but it is a good movie nonetheless.
Soup Rating 6/10
A tiny backstory here. I have a favorite spot in the cinema to sit and avoid the ‘rude talkers’ while I watch a movie. Well, it didn’t work as it was packed, and the group sitting behind me instantly made me sweat. Don’t get me wrong, I will shut up the talkers when needed, but I would rather concentrate on the movie I am watching. And although this group was talking non-stop during the trailers, they were quiet from the minute the movie started to the very last second. And I think that shows the power of this film.
Christopher Nolan is my favorite director. This is no secret; I’ve been yelling about this for ages. Therefore I had huge expectations for this movie. Only the best from the master, and he again did not disappoint. I will go even further and say that this movie is his magnum opus and an absolute masterpiece without question. A profound character study and look into humanity’s arguably worst invention.
Quotes Robert Oppenheimer from the Hindu sacred text the Bhagavad Gita, a quote that would come to define him. I had another quote in mind, especially by the end:
“Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether they could, they didn’t stop to think if they should.”
It comes from Jurassic Park; Ian Malcom’s now famous quote perfectly describes the entire Manhattan Project. A project that used the fear in people to not let the Nazis discover this bomb before they could change the way of war and history completely. So instead, the Americans did it led by Oppenheimer.
The movie follows two different viewpoints: Oppenheimer’s (Cillian Murphy) and a third person/black-and-white view, but arguably the viewpoint of Lewis Strauss (Robert Downey Jr.). Christopher Nolan uses these storylines to showcase the life of Oppenheimer leading up to the Manhattan Project, the project itself, and the aftermath of it all. Mixing them all together in a perfect blend of past and present and even a glimpse into the future with the movie’s very last scene.
The casting of this movie was the absolute best I’ve seen lately. Big names perfectly portray these historical figures and the struggles they went through. But probably out of all the amazing cast, the two mentioned before were the greatest choice. I strongly believe that both Cillian Murphy and Robert Downey Jr deserve all the awards they can throw at them, along with Christopher Nolan.
I felt so many things while watching Oppenheimer. The dread of what’s to come, the silent prayer that they won’t succeed – yes, despite knowing history – the absolute devastation as people jumped up and celebrated the creation of the atomic bomb, and the unrealistic scene where they pick which Japanese city to bomb like they were picking names out of a hat.
Three scenes stuck with me, and I would like to share them with you all.
The first one is (quite obviously) the test of the atomic bomb. The storm comes in like a Godly intervention, trying to prevent them from even doing the test and then the preparation for it with only a few hours away from the original time. Let me tell you that the whole cinema was silent after then, but as soon as the bomb made impact and all the sound disappeared, the silence became different. Like you could feel people’s absolute dread and fear pouring over you. And as soon as the sound of the explosion hit the actors in the face, it did just that with the audience. I heard the guy next to me whisper in pure terror: “What have they done?”
The second one is between Oppenheimer and President Harry Truman (Gary Oldman), as they talk about the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Oppenheimer talks about his regrets in the matter and that they might have taken it a step too far, and Truman answers that he gave out the order, and people will blame him for it, so Oppenheimer has nothing to worry about. As the Father of the Atomic Bomb steps out of the Oval Office, he hears Truman say that he didn’t want to see a crybaby scientist like him again. The scene is quiet, and the actor’s expressions perfectly display what’s going on with Truman being visibly disappointed with Oppenheimer’s: “I feel like I have blood on my hands.” line. Masterfully acted and directed moment.
The third one is the very last scene of the movie between Einstein (Tom Conti) and Oppenheimer. We see the conversation at the beginning of the movie but do not hear it until the end.
“Oppenheimer: When I came to you with those calculations. We thought we might start a chain reaction that would destroy the entire world.
Einstein: I remember well. What of it?
Oppenheimer: I believe we did.”
I will leave you all with that and ask you to please go and watch Oppenheimer. Maybe it’s not too late to learn from our own mistakes.
Soup Rating 10/10