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Can ‘Oppenheimer’ Bring Patriotism Back to the Big Screen?

Trailer for Christopher Nolan's historical drama rejects Hollywood tropes

Which of the following movie quotes can get a film fan’s heart racing?

“I am Groot!”

“The game’s over, Dom … you lose.”

“Let’s go recruit some scientists.”

The first two quotes are from “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3” (obviously) and “Fast X,” respectively. The third may not sound exciting, but every other element of the film in question has movie lovers panting in anticipation.

Oppenheimer | New Trailer

Director Christopher Nolan recalls the race to build the atomic bomb in “Oppenheimer,” hitting theaters July 21. Cillian Murphy plays physicist J Robert Oppenheimer, the man who helped end World War II and usher in the nuclear age.

The trailer suggests “Oppenheimer” rejects 21st century film tropes, starting with the subject matter. The drama has no IP connection, no beloved source material or tie-in like most summer releases.

Think “Barbie,” “Transformers: Rise of the Beasts,” “Blue Beetle” and “The Flash.”

This heady drama must slug it out with the movie equivalent of high-fructose corn syrup. And, chances are, it’ll do just fine according to box office predictions.

The cast is a who’s who of Hollywood (Murphy, Robert Downey, Jr., Matt Damon, Rami Malek, Florence Pugh, Casey Affleck, Gary Oldman, Kenneth Branagh and more). That isn’t the film’s appeal.

Nolan is the star, an uncommon director who delivers a new film every two to four years. Each arrives with all the pomp and circumstance Hollywood can muster.

And, for the most part, the films warrant that reception.

This time, though, Nolan looks to offer something more than just a splashy film project. He’s upending the modern blockbuster.

Let’s take the story itself, a period piece brimming with historical significance. Sounds like a box office dud on paper, at least without the name “Nolan” attached.

The director says the film’s key explosion (no spoiler alert here) came via practical effects, not CGI magic. That old-school approach is mirrored throughout the film, Nolan suggests, setting the visual palette apart from most modern spectacles.

The trailer praises both American ingenuity and the nuclear (no pun intended) family. The teaser mentions how the sequestered scientists had company while trying to beat the Nazis to the ultimate weapon.

“If we don’t let scientists bring their families, we’ll never get the best,” a voice says.

How … reactionary.

Plus, the film is dominated by men, another no-no in modern Hollywood. Is this another exercise in Patriarchy 101? Well, it’s history if that’s Nolan’s defense.

It may not stop woke scolds from slamming the story for its lack of diversity, as some foolishly attempted following the release of Nolan’s World War II epic “Dunkirk.”

Plus, we see a crush of American flags waving without a whiff of irony. A packed crowd roars, the revelers hoisting the tiny flags above their heads.

Nolan’s film will likely brim with complexity, akin to his previous features. The atomic age deserves nothing less.

“Oppenheimer” may be an Oscar favorite or a letdown, but it’ll strike a blow against much of what Hollywood represents in 2023.


  1. I’m not a fan of Nolan’s template. Both Dunkirk and Oppenheimer were important moments in World War II. In each movie there’s
    way too much sound track droning on and on and on and loud, as well. Does this guy know where the editing department is? Dunkirk
    had the chance to be a top ten war movie if it had been edited down to two hours; the same mistake applies to Oppenheimer, too.
    Why did Nolan have such a fragmented script describing this scientist’s life? Unless you were a reader of the WWII era, one is left
    being jerked from scene to scene in different parts of his life; it was so needless. Why the nude scene with the two main characters?
    I thought I was watch Last Tango in Paris. Oppenheimer was a missed chance with a top shelf A- List cast and a lousy script. If you haven’t
    seen it, wait for Redbox..

  2. The Right Wing, led at that time by Joseph McCarthy, attacked Oppenheimer and had his clearances revoked. So much for their gratitude.

  3. Diversity is neither “stupid” nor “crap” but a too long delayed inclusion of talent, which is present in ALL ethnic groups. And why can’t diversity and “entertaining movies” work together? Why are you pitting them against one another? Studios and filmmakers understand they can and should do both. Diversity brings in larger audiences, i.e., ticket sales and watches at home, i.e., MONEY. We can expand our view of the world and make money.

    1. @Ivan

      Amen, brother.

      A great example is Hidden Figures, a biopic about the Black female ” human computers” who were vital in America winning the Space Race against the Soviet Union.

      This hit film is the pro-family, patriotic, and Christian movie that conservative media always complains Hollywood doesn’t produce. Well, here it is.

      Diverse, hit films aren’t limited to biopics or grounded fictional fare like the Creed trilogy. Examples in science fiction, fantasy, and horror are almost endless: Black Panther 1 and 2, Aquaman, Shang-Chi, The Batman, Star Trek, Star Wars, Avatar, Transformers, Thor 1 through 4, Dr. Strange 1 and 2, Into the Spider-Verse, Jurassic World trilogy, The Incredibles 1 and 2, Get Out, Us, Nope, Candyman, Dune, etc.

      Americans simply want GOOD movies and could care less about the racial makeup of the cast. It’s the Far Right who thinks that only lily-White films can do well at the box office.

    2. If you honestly think anyone is calling diversity in a vacuum “stupid” or “crap”, then you don’t understand what’s going on. But I can’t believe anyone doesn’t actually know what’s going on at this point, so I’m assuming some disingenuousness in your post.

      It’s never been about just diversity. It’s about “forced” diversity, diversity-for-diversities-sake, and diversity where it shouldn’t exist. The example used in this article is someone that complained that there wasn’t enough diversity in Dunkirk, and I’ve already seen complaints about this film as well.

      Race-swapping in a historical setting does not expand our view of the world, it just lies about history. At the same time, I’m NOT against directors and producers doing just that if they want to. It’s their art, and they should be able to make it how they want to, as long as they don’t claim it’s factual.

      The worst part is the “Diversity Police” that will come after you if you DON’T make a diverse movie. Even Nolan is not above this criticism apparently, but fortunately he’s powerful enough to not be cancelled by it.

      There are plenty of wonderful stories about diverse parts of the world and people that can be made into movies, and many of them are made and overlooked for some strange reason.

      1. Completely agree, Ty. The forced diversity is what is cringey. It would be like a film made about the Zulu tribe before British colonialism and a white person was cast as the Zulu king for diversity’s sake. I’d have no interest in seeing that b/c the optics just look ridiculous. They attempted such a thing with a recent movie about Mary Queen of Scots which was completely stupid. But, in our race-obsessed culture, this is what we’re presented.

    3. Diversity doesn’t always bring in larger audiences. Case in point: latest Indiana Jones movie where a female Mary Sue was forced upon us. Forced diversity is not a winning formula. But, you can keep deluding yourself that it is.

    4. If individuals such as “myself” want to see diversity or woke transgender non-sense then I would seek those types of movies and am sure I’m not alone on that. All these films pushing this mental illness is doing poor at the box office. Love it!!

      I think you need to stay off the “Not woke” movie website

    5. Yes, it is stupid and crap. If I want to see a diverse film I would search for one. Have absolutely no desire to have one pushed on me and I’m far from the only one that thinks this way.


  4. Nolan is the most intriguing filmmaker in the business. Anything he does is a must-see for me.

  5. Isn’t this the year the Oscar’s Diversity Bingo card is activated? Or did they hire 1000 diverse production assistants to game the system?

    Either way, Hollywood needs to drop the stupid diversity crap and remember how to make entertaining movies again.

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