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Home Entertainment: ‘Oppenheimer’ 4K Ultra-HD review

Christopher Nolan's best work may also be one of the best home entertainment releases to have ever hit DVD and Blu-ray shelves.

by Paul Heath

Now that the dust has settled on Christopher Nolan’s near-billion dollar box-office monster, it’s time to reflect on the movie as it arrives on the digital and physical home formats. We examine the very detailed and hugely impressive 4K version of Oppenheimer.

Credit: Universal Pictures

As we press play on the Ultra HD Oppenheimer disc, it doesn’t take long to see how much work has gone into it. Loaded with 3 hours of bonus stuff (more on that later), Nolan’s epic is technically flawless, too. Seamlessly switching from widescreen to IMAX ratios throughout, the detail in every frame is pin-sharp whether you’re looking at a close-up of Cillian Murphy’s face or the sweeping vistas of New Mexico later on. It is, quite simply, one of the best 4K discs we’ve seen, especially from that of a new release rather than a remastered classic.

Related: ‘Oppenheimer’ review [theatrical]

Not much more can be said about the film itself-it’s possibly Nolan’s best and certainly its most ambitious, if indeed a little brave; a $100 million dollar movie with no lavish set-pieces, save its atomic bomb test sequence over two-thirds in, or material based within a comic-book universe. It is essentially people talking about science in rooms – for three hours. Boasting an impressive, ensemble cast and a team of cinematic craftsman, all of whom are at the absolute top of their game, Oppenheimer is a mould breaker and cultural phenomenon that will hopefully lead to more original works rather than the tiresome superhero tentpoles this budget usually revolves around.

The film revolves around the Oppenheimer of the time, Murphy’s J. Robert, the New York native who became one of the most renowned theoretical physicists that ever lived, and indeed the inventor of the atomic bomb. Nolan’s feature, which clocks in at bang-on three hours, is indeed a bit of a slog, but there’s no meat on its amble bones, a definitive chronicle of Oppenheimer’s life, his work and the fallout as a result of it.

The release is loaded with bonus content which makes this one of the best of the year, if not for a number of years. There are three discs. The first is the movie presented in 4K Ultra-HD (which is what we base our review on); the second disc is the film in standard HD on Blu-ray, and then the final disc is loaded with bonus content. One of my biggest bugbears on DVDs or Blu-rays is third-rate ‘making of’ material split into one-minute or so chunks. None of that here as Oppenheimer comes with a seventy-minute-plus feature, ‘The Story of our Time: The Making of Oppenheimer’, going behind the scenes of the movie, albeit split into seven very meaty chunks – ‘Now I Am Become Death’, which shows the cast and crew sharing stories about the making of the film, ‘The Luminaries’ where cast and crew sync the script’s dramatic narrative with the real lives of historical figures to embody their complex characters, and then ‘The Manhattan Project’ which shows how filmmakers were able to use practical effects rather than CGI to bring some of the more ambitious scenes to life. There’s also ‘The Devil of Details’ which looks at the film’s production design, ‘Walking A Mile’, about costume and make-up, ‘Can You Hear Music’, about Ludwig Göransson’s collaboration with Nolan to bring the soundtrack to the film, and ‘We Can Perform This Miracle’ which conveys how Nolan works with his collaborators to break new ground in their various roles.

One of the very few bonus packages we can honestly say is worthy of the movie it accompanies.

There are also trailers, as well as a trip to FotoKem’s labs where they show how new film stock technology was invented and implemented for the movies; specifically, the 65mm black and white film stock used in some of the sequences. There’s a Q+A with Nolan and physicists where they talk about the film and reflect on the events depicted, and finally ‘To End All War: Oppenheimer & The Atomic Bomb’ which focuses specifically on Oppenheimer – the man and his work.

In all, a title that absolutely leads the way in terms of how these physical discs should be produced and presented, Nolan clearly has a hand in all aspects of this release. He’s a clear advocate in physical media, almost as much as he is in terms of shooting his movies on film rather than digital, and this is one of the very few bonus packages we can honestly say is worthy of the movie it accompanies.

Oppenheimer is out now on 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray, Blu-ray, DVD and digital.

‘Oppenheimer’ 4K Ultra-HD

Paul Heath

Film
Bonus Features

Summary

A title that leads the way in terms of how physical discs should be produced and presented. Simply put, one of the best 4Ks presentations out there.

5

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