Oppenheimer (4K UHD Blu-ray Review)

There were two movies people REALLY wanted to see this past summer, and they came out on the same day. Barbie did the bigger overall business, but it may be Oppenheimer that was much more surprising and impressive considering the kinds of movies we think aren’t worth putting in theaters anymore. Almost clearing a billion dollars and being the hottest IMAX ticket in town, Oppenheimer is finally yours to own. The Christopher Nolan masterstroke released on November 21st and features a good handful of bonus features. You can order a copy by using the paid Amazon Associates link that follows the review below.



During World War II, Lt. Gen. Leslie Groves Jr. appoints physicist J. Robert Oppenheimer to work on the top-secret Manhattan Project. Oppenheimer and a team of scientists spend years developing and designing the atomic bomb. Their work comes to fruition on July 16, 1945, as they witness the world’s first nuclear explosion, forever changing the course of history.

I recently reviewed the 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray for James Cameron’s Titanic. And revisiting that work, I can’t help but see a similarity in an uncompromised vision and holding on to a notable vision and integrity in storytelling when doing a historical film. Beyond being a biopic on J. Robert Oppenheimer, this is a Christopher Nolan film through and through. From his distinct visual eye to the editing, scoring and non-linear storytelling he incorporates. You may not be a history buff, you may know nothing of what the events being portrayed in the film, but you are about to see just a damn fine film and an incredibly engaging piece of entertainment.

Nolan employs his non-linear tactics here in a bit of duality that becomes more apparent as the film hits a climax. You first believe you are seeing merely past and future as deployed by black and white photography versus color. Later, you come a startling twist of it being that of duality. Of two men’s journey of having things taken from them on the grandest, most public scale. Of living with the horrors of realizing the world is more haunting than your own ambitions. It’s here where your brain also realizes what genius Nolan has here in giving the film much more than just showing history and telling us a moment in time of a key figure in one of the most horrific events ever to happen on the globe called Earth.

While Nolan has staged this together brilliantly, its this large and dynamite cast that brings it to life. Robert Downey Jr. clearly is already having his name etched on some trophies for his supporting turn. And its so refreshing to see the actor I grew up calling one of my favorites back giving career best work again. Cillian Murphy is probably being overshadowed a lot by the others in here, but he is also absolutely tremendous as he carries damn near every frame. Emily Blunt is just as good as the rest in a challenging role of swings and restraint. She commands the screen and captivates in ways she has before and then some new. I could make a laundry list of everyone here (Yup, Josh Hartnett is great and I love the acting career Benny Safdie is crafting for himself), but this movie is a parade of one after another recognizable faces entering the frame, giving some of their best performances and then leaving. If you had asked the question “What director does most everyone in Hollywood want to work with right now?”, Oppenheimer is the movie that answers it.

Oppenheimer is a movie that you already had predetermined it to be pretty damn good, but when seeing it, you recognize that its really damn good. Which is hard to do with such grand expectations. Nolan crafting something that wound up a phenomenon too, as the movie made almost a billion dollars. That means it connected and was liked by loads and loads of people. Yes, there was a social media thing, but that could’ve been over in an opening weekend. Christopher Nolan continues to be a man who believes in the power of the theatrical experience and continues to put his money where his mouth is and absolutely delivering!


Disclaimer: Screen captures used in the review are from promotional images supplied by the studio, not the 4K UHD Blu-ray disc.

Encoding: HEVC / H.265

Resolution: 4K (2160p)

Aspect Ratio: 2.20:1, 1.78:1

Layers: BD-100

Clarity/Detail: To the surprise of no one, Oppenheimer presents itself in pristine quality with its 4K Ultra-HD Blu-ray debut. If you’ve seen other Nolan films like Interstellar, Dunkirk or Tenet on the format, then that’s where you can set your expectations. There’s smashing amount of depth on display with a concise color palette against beautiful blacks. There is photo realistic detail and texture at every turn. There is no doubt about this being one of the best looking movies on the format, new or old, this year.

Depth:  Depth of field is one of the greatest assets here. The scale of the movie is massive and the pushback and spacing is tremendous and wildly 3 dimensional. Movements are filmic and natural with no issues of any sort of blur or jitter coming from rapid camera or actor movements.

Black Levels: With using film, blacks are really gorgeous and natural here. The black and white footage adds an incredible amount of beauty showcasing them and building a vibe. The color footage supplies great shadow, darkened rooms and maintains loads of texture and fine information against dark fabrics, surfaces and shadow. No crushing witnessed.

Color Reproduction: Colors are quite strong here and the grays, greens and normal elements really burst here with a bold, rich flavor. There is an elegance to the colors in this film, making some of the more bland and stale, strong and beautiful. HDR comes in handy with flames, lights and more with a good glow and pop, especially when contrasting with blacks. The atom screens and such that play early on look lovely.

Flesh Tones: Skin tones are natural and consistent from start to finish, black and white or color. Facial features and textures are clear as day, as if you were looking through glass at the person.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean.


Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Spanish 5.1 DTS, French 5.1 DTS

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French

Dynamics: Unfortunately, Christopher Nolan is a devotee to his 5.1 mixes, so there is no Atmos on Oppenheimer. Regardless, this is top notch. Loud and proud. There is a nice focus on vocals and score but the effect take a nice stronghold too and the pair of blasts featured do not disappoint.

Height: N/A

Low Frequency Extension: The subwoofer is quite strong, as per every Nolan movie, with great hits on explosions, musical swings, crashing, hammering, engines and more.

Surround Sound Presentation: The room swells with sounds from all around. There’s a great ambiance build from the rear channels to keep every room feeing full and lived in. Sound travel does have some good power from back to front and side to side. There is a nice sense of angle changes and tracking offscreen activity. Its an invested mix that benefits the engagement of the viewer.

Dialogue Reproduction: Vocals are clear and crisp.


Oppenheimer is a 3-disc set that comes with the standard Blu-ray edition, a Blu-ray disc with special features and a redeemable digital code.

The Story Of Our Time: The Making Of Oppenheimer (HD, 1:12:25) – 4 part, extensive look at the making of the film. Complete with cast and crew interviews, location footage, behind the scenes and more. A pretty in depth, few questions left documentary on making the film.

Trailers (HD, 14:11) – “Teaser”, “Trailer 2”, “IMAX Exclusive Trailer”, “Trailer 3”, “Opening Look”

Innovations In Film: 65MM Black And White Film In Oppenheimer (HD, 8:21) – Hoyte van Hoytema and some of the Fotokem folks who worked on the film talk about the challenge of working the black and white into the 70mm project. They talk the benefits of black and white photography, what it means in terms of what it captures and how it deals with developing and production.

Meet The Press Q&A Panel: Oppenheimer (HD, 34:46) – Christopher Nolan, Kai Bird, Dr. Kip Thorne, Dr. Tom Mason, Dr. Carlo Rovelli sit in with a conversation about the portrayal in the movie, the physics and more. Its film meets reality head on.

To End All War: Oppenheimer & The Atomic Bomb (HD, 1:27:18) – A full on feature documentary on J. Robert Oppenheimer. Audio available in English, Spanish and English Descriptive Audio Services.


Oppenheimer is clearly one of the best films of the year and we are just a little over a month or so away from it being likely decorated in Academy Awards nominations. To the surprise of no one, the disc comes with a pristine presentation in video and audio. This also sees some of the most perfectly complimentary extras to a film on disc ever. Christopher Nolan’s latest is a must have and Day 1 pick up for anyone who enjoys good movies.

This is a paid Amazon Associates link


Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com). He is also the Moderator/MC of the Live Podcast Stage and on the Podcast Awards Committee for PopCon (popcon.us). In the past 10 years at Why So Blu, Brandon has amassed over 1,500 reviews of 4K, Blu-ray and DVD titles.

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