I was lucky enough to see Christopher Nolan’s latest film Oppenheimer on opening night in 70MM at AMC Lincoln Square’s IMAX theater. It was a viewing experience I will never forget and I plan on returning for a second round. A lot of people have been asking me, what is the best way to experience the film? The answer to that is without a doubt in 70MM IMAX which is what the film was shot on. Unfortunately, only 19 theaters in America have the capacity to project it in this way. Many people purchased tickets way in advance for these 19 theaters and are traveling far distances just to get a chance to see it in this format. If you cannot find a way to see it in 70MM IMAX, that’s ok too. But if you have the option, here are 5 reasons why you should see it in as big a theater as you possibly can.
1. The film is an “audiovisual” experience:
In a recent interview with Variety Nolan expressed his distaste with how studios and audiences take so much stock in the plot of a film. While Nolan has written many brilliant screenplays, his films are elevated by his signature “audiovisual style.” Nolan has written a story that consists mostly of men in suits yelling at each other. Miraculously, through Nolan’s extreme stylings, the film is bursting with intensity. Nolan explodes the trappings of a drama, and is able to make Oppenheimer feel as theatrical as one of his action films.
2. The score is one of the best of the year.
Nolan is constantly championing the cinematic experience, but in a recent interview when asked, “Is it ok to watch a movie on smartphones or laptops?” to my surprise Nolan responded, “Yes.” If it turns out you can only watch Oppenheimer on a phone or laptop, make sure to use some good headphones. I was blown away by the music in this film. While we are saddened by the loss of the great Hans Zimmer – whose Interstellar score is one of the most famous of all time–another extremely talented composer named Ludgwig Goransson has stepped up. Ludwig famously produced the track Redbone for Childish Gambino. Nolan and Ludwig started work together on Tenet. The song Freeport off of that film is one of my all time favorite original soundtrack moments. In Oppenheimer, Ludwig has done it again. The score for Oppenheimer is assaulting in its intensity and piercing in its sincerity. Every time Nolan cuts to an extreme close up of Cillian Murphy’s face and cues a massive synth bass blast from Ludwig, that is peak cinema. Moments like these in IMAX made me feel like I had taken a time machine back to WW2.
3. The shifts in aspect ratio are best suited for IMAX.
Oppenheimer constantly shifts its aspect ratio from the standard wide format to an extreme full screen where every corner of the screen is filled. As someone who frequents IMAX theaters, it is rare you see a movie at the IMAX that has the capabilities to fill every corner of the frame. That is because only a handful of movies are given the technology to do it. When a movie is not shot on IMAX, it’s not taking full advantage of the monster screen even though it is blown up. The shifting aspect ratios in this film are essential to the film’s style. Some of the moments feel bigger than anything I have seen, even at other IMAX screenings. Perhaps this is because of the contrast between the standard wider format and the full screen aspect ratio. The film has courtroom sequences, reminiscent of JFK that for the most part are depicted in this standard format, contrasted with the larger climactic moments which are depicted in full screen, and feel gargantuan.
4. The performances have true star power.
The star power of Oppenheimer makes for a riveting and emotional experience. This is an all time great ensemble, featuring three generations of incredible character actors from Robert Downey Jr, to Cillian Murphy, to Emily Blunt. A cast does not get much better than this. The style of the film has the camera very close up on these amazing actors’ faces often. These people are all as on top of their game as ever. Every crease of their forehead is intentional and it all comes through so clearly and so beautifully when you see it in an IMAX theater.
5. The “Barbenheimer” hype is real
While I have never felt this way, many people have proclaimed to me that there is no reason to go to the theaters because they can watch all the best movies at home. Others, (usually older folks) have told me that movies are not as good as they used to be. Well, guess what, right now, in theaters, playing on the biggest screens in the world, two of the world’s best filmmakers just released original films that will bring throngs of moviegoers back to the cinemas. There is something for everyone at the cinemas this week. If you have not made it back to the movies even since covid because nothing has interested you, now is the time. Two films, selling out extremely enthusiastic theaters, this is special and it is absolutely the best time of the year to go to the movies. So whether you want to see the explosive epic that is Oppenheimer or Greta Gerwig’s hilarious and gorgeous Barbie try and see it as BIG as you possibly can, not just because that’s how the filmmaker’s intended it, because it will genuinely take you to a new world.
– Jack Schenker (@YUNGOCUPOTIS)