The First Reactions To ‘Oppenheimer’ Call It ‘Incredible’ And ‘Audacious,’ Making That Double Bill With ‘Barbie’ Sound All The More Enticing

Initially July 21 sounded like a duel: Would moviegoers choose to see Barbie, a PG-13 take on the Mattel doll? Or would they go with Oppenheimer, a grim downer about the invention of the atomic bomb that’s at least super sexy? Then a third option emerged: Why not see both, asked Tom Cruise? Tens of thousands of AMC Stubs members agreed, and now it’s a question of which one is better. But based on the first reactions, it appears the answer is: They both are.

On Tuesday evening, the embargo dropped on social media reactions to Christopher Nolan’s latest and biggest behemoth, and, well, they are as good as the ones for Barbie.

Bilge Ebiri, of Vulture, called it “incredible.” He went on, saying, “The word that keeps coming to mind is ‘fearsome.’ A relentlessly paced, insanely detailed, intricate historical drama that builds and builds and builds until Nolan brings the hammer down in the most astonishing, shattering way.”

Robbie Collin, of The Telegraph, was also effusive, writing, “Am torn between being all coy and mysterious about Oppenheimer and just coming out and saying it’s a total knockout that split my brain open like a twitchy plutonium nucleus and left me sobbing through the end credits like I can’t even remember what else.”

The AP’s Lindsay Bahr called said Oppenheimer is a “truly a spectacular achievement, in its truthful, concise adaptation, inventive storytelling and nuanced performances from Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt, Robert Downey Jr., Matt Damon and the many, many others involved —- some just for a scene.”

Total Film’s Matt Maytum said it left him “stunned,” calling it a “character study on the grandest scale, with a sublime central performance by Cillian Murphy.” He deemed it an ”epic historical drama but with a distinctly Nolan sensibility: the tension, structure, sense of scale, startling sound design, remarkable visuals.” His final verdit: “Wow.”

Sean O’Connnell, of CinemaBlend, made a bold statement, calling it “Nolan’s JFK. And I LOVE LOVE LOVE JFK,” referring to Oliver Stone’s batty but dizzying and absorbing look at one of the more wackadoodle JFK assassination conspiracy theories. (Yes, it’s stil a great film.) O’Connell added, “Cillian Murphy mesmerizes in a star-studded moral quandary about Scientific Theory becoming deadly fact. The entire cast is outstanding, and while the history is DENSE, it’s Nolan’s most streamlined and accessible.”

Jonathan Dean, of The Sunday Times, took a more critical approach, even though he said he was “[t]otally absorbed” by this “dense, talkie, tense film partly about the bomb, mostly about how doomed we are. Happy summer!” Dean also called it an “audacious, inventive, complex film to rattle its audience.”

But there is a downside. “The women are badly served,” Dean charged, saying that “Emily Blunt only once gets out of her stressed mother role.” Still, that carp aside, Dean said Oppeneheimer goes “straight into my Nolan top three, alongside Memento & The Prestige.”

So if you’re one of the hundreds of thousands spending five hours on or after July 21 watching maybe the pinkest movies ever made and another “about how doomed we are” (that, again, at least has “prolonged full nudity,” sounds like you’re going to have a blast.