TV and Film

Oppenheimer: Exploration of Science, Ethics and the Human Condition

In the highly anticipated film Oppenheimer, visionary director Christopher Nolan delivers a masterful cinematic journey that delves deep into the complex themes of science, ethics, and the human condition.

At its core, ‘Oppenheimer’ is a deep dive into the moral dilemmas surrounding scientific advancements, particularly in the context of the development of the atomic bomb during World War II. The film follows the life and work of J. Robert Oppenheimer, the brilliant physicist who played a key role in the Manhattan Project. Through a thought-provoking narrative, the movie poses critical questions about the responsibilities of scientists when their discoveries have far-reaching consequences for humanity. It raises issues of ethics, accountability, and the often-fraught relationship between science and society.

One of the film’s standout themes is the examination of the weight of individual decisions and their impact on the course of history. Oppenheimer’s internal struggle as he wrestles with the consequences of his involvement in creating the atomic bomb serves as a powerful allegory for the choices humanity faces in wielding its technological prowess. The film wonderfully confronts viewers with the complexity of ethical decision-making in times of war through the use of incredible imagery which helps to underscore the enduring relevance of these dilemmas in the present day.

Nolan has delivered another intellectually stimulating and emotional Imax experience. With its meticulous storytelling and thematic depth, the film provokes contemplation on the ethical implications of scientific progress and the intricacies of the human psyche. It serves as a poignant reminder of the importance of mindful decision-making, collaboration, and introspection in shaping the world we inhabit. ‘Oppenheimer’ is a compelling and thought-provoking work of art that will leave a lasting impression on viewers, sparking conversations about the enduring moral dilemmas faced by humanity.”

Featured TV and Film

Barbie Beats Oppenheimer to Break the Weekend Box Office 

If you’re internet-savvy, the chances that you’ve not heard of the word “Barbenheimer” is likely to be zero. It is a blend of the titles of two blockbuster films with simultaneous theatrical release dates, Barbie and Oppenheimer. The last few weeks has been filled with a surge of internet buzz around the two movies which were released on July 21, 2023 in the United Kingdom, United States, and several other countries. 

Barbie is the first live-action production of the animated classic children’s movie. Margot Robbie stars as the titular character alongside an ensemble cast of Ryan Gosling, America Ferrera, Issa Rae, Will Ferrell, Kate McKinnon, and Rhea Perlman. The Greta Gerwig-directed movie was promoted with ample marketing efforts in the months leading up to its release. Mattel entered into partnerships with brands including Airbnb, Gap, XBox, Bloomingdale’s to promote the movie. Warner Bros tweeted the first ever Barbie poster in 2022. 

On the other hand, Oppenheimer is a biological thriller film written and directed by 5-time Academy Award nominee, Christopher Nolan. Universal Pictures won a bidding war over Sony, Paramount, and Apple Studios to produce the trending movie after The Dark Knight trilogy filmmaker developed a strained relationship with Warner Bros. 

Peaky Blinders lead actor Cilian Murphy stars J. Robert Oppenheimer, the titular character who was a physicist crucial in developing the first atomic bomb. The movie also has an ensemble cast of Emily Blunt, Robert Downey Jr., Matt Damon, Josh Hartnett, Casey Affleck, Rami Malek, Florence Pugh, and Kenneth Branagh. 

What is the Fuss About?

The two movies explore different themes. While Barbie is a feminist-themed fantasy film, Oppenheimer is a tensely grin thriller. But it’s interesting to note that they share a few similarities. They are both written and directed by Academy Award nominees. Barbie is a journey into Stereotypical Barbie’s (Margot Robbie) adventure in and out of Barbieland, her ambitions, regrets, and fight for a better future. Oppenheimer shares a similar approach. Nolan explores the hero’s hopes, ambitions, and regrets for creating a weapon of mass destruction beyond his control. 

The dual rendering of the two blockbusters at cinemas got the highest gross opening in the UK since 2019, after the COVID-19 pandemic forced the world to sit at home. 

A cinema chain Vue International recorded over 500,000 customers on the weekend alone. The chief executive officer Tim Richards said “We knew it was going to be a big weekend based on the advanced bookings, which were also the biggest since the pandemic.” Richards further confirmed that almost 20% of people who bought a ticket for Oppenheimer also did so for Barbie. 

Barbie was projected to gross between $90-$120 million in its opening weekend, while Oppenheimer was projected to average $45-50 million in their opening weekends. It shouldn’t come as a surprise that both films exceeded box office expectations considering the massive wave of influence the Barbenheimer brand has wielded in the last few months.

What Did They Make?

Barbie and Oppenheimer had a weekend debut of £29.4 million ($37.6 million) in the UK and Ireland combined. Barbie did £18.5 million ($23.8 million) while Oppenheimer grossed £10.8 million ($13.8 million). 

In the United States and Canada, the movies grossed more than $10 million each in their Thursday preview. Barbie did $22.3 million and Oppenheimer grossed $10.5 million, which has never happened for two previews of movies released in the same weekend. This led to the increase of the weekend projections to $160 million and $77 million respectively. By the end of the weekend, Barbie grossed $162 million and Oppenheimer did $82 million in the US and Canada alone. 

Barbie and Oppenheimer grossed a combined amount of $511 million dollars worldwide over the weekend. They did $337 million and $174 million respectively, with the pink-themed film grossing almost double of the biopic’s revenue. Barbie marked Greta Gerwig’s highest grossing opening weekend in the US since her movie Little Woman did $16.8 million. Oppenheimer is Nolan’s third highest grossing worldwide opening weekend ever. His movie The Dark Knight Rises did $249 million while The Dark Knight came behind with $198 million. 

Surprisingly, the two blockbusters are not considered rivals but complimentary movies. Reports show that Oppenheimer had extra ticket sales in its opening weekend because Barbie tickets sold out fast in cinemas across the world. In the US, it is estimated that $4.98 million of Oppenheimer’s $82.4 million box office sales came from Barbie remnants. 

In conclusion, it is safe to say the juxtaposition of the films created the box office magic we see today, otherwise known as the Barbenheimer phenomenon. While it remains to be seen that the movies continue to shatter box office expectations, we urge you to check them out to determine if the hype is well worth it.

To hear more Gen Z stories

Featured TV and Film

Did the Gossip Girl Reboot Finally Redeem Itself?

The Gossip Girl Reboot (2021) debuted its second season at the beginning of December

Matching the new social media influencer lifestyle that’s a cornerstone of the new series, most of the new Gossip Girl season’s marketing was done on the characters’ TikTok and Instagram accounts. All the characters have real accounts you can follow, with even a Goodreads account for Audrey Hope and a Letterboxd for Aki Menzies.

Season One of the reboot received mixed reviews for trying to be as scandalous as the original while pretending to be woke. The show took itself too seriously, and the plots were getting repetitive as early as episode three. It also had too many characters, some of which had multiple storylines, while more interesting characters were left unexplored. The issue of the adults’ involvement was also controversial at best.

The reboot also seemed to emulate Élite too much, which ironically, was also highly inspired by the original Gossip Girl. Now, Élite’s later seasons are meh, while the reboot is improving. And, once you watch S2E1, you’ll realise that the writers have seriously stepped up their game.

Fans, overall, have expressed pleasant surprise with the increase in the quality of the show. And, what seems to have helped to boost that quality, was it finally standing on a definite identity. The original Gossip Girl was not about petty, rich people pretending to be good, woke, and self-aware. It was about petty rich people being petty rich people, while also having sex with each other. 

The new one made away with the nonsensical ending of season one as fast as it could and began showing us rich people doing petty things to each other just because they can, through modern lenses. Giving sidelined characters like Monet de Haan the spotlight was a good move. Tucking away the Obie x Zoya x Julien triangle, which had long overstayed its welcome in Season One, was also smart.

While that’s not to say Season Two has some flaws, namely the Max x Audrey x Aki relationship not having an actual storyline, it’s still stepping in the right direction. And, whether the writers learned from their mistakes, or now have a better grasp of their target audience, it’s safe to say the Gossip Girl Reboot has redeemed itself from its shaky first season run.

Featured TV and Film

Avatar: The Way of Water: What to Expect

Avatar: The Way of Water has taken so long to come out that most people forgot that the iconic blue aliens were in for a sequel

It’s been thirteen years after the original Avatar, which was, for the better part of a decade, the highest-grossing movie of all time. But, do people care or even remember anything about Pandora or that it’s not really a planet but a moon of another? Avatar: The Way of Water, released December 16th 2022, is set in the oceans of Pandora.

Cameron was so ambitious with the film that he spent years developing new technology to film motion capture sequences underwater. Of course, that also means the movie’s budget was astronomical. To even break, Avatar: The Way of Water would need to at least reach the top five in gross terms. That’s at least $2.04 billion, beating Avengers: Infinity War (2018).

Performance capture underwater has never been performed before, which is why the film, originally slated for 2014, was delayed eight years. Filming concluded mid-COVID-19, in September 2020. Its budget has been estimated at $350-400 million, the fourth most expensive film of all time.

Avatar: The Way of the Water
@ Digital Spy

So, who’s returning to the film? Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldaña, and Stephen Lang are all reprising their roles, with Sigourney Weaver returning, but in a different role. Stephen Lang played Colonel Miles Quaritch, aka the big bad of the previous film, but apparently, he and other characters were resurrected by a process known as recombination. 

Cameron is confident that his film can find an audience, despite the long delay between the last one. He mentioned in an interview how the success of “Aliens” and “Terminator 2: Judgement Day” are both proofs that he can draw an audience of loyal fans for his movies. On top of that, the initial reception of the trailer was warm, but some fans hope the second film’s screenplay isn’t a rehash of the first one.

That would mean a love story between Na’vi or other creatures from different clans, and this time learning to ride a water alien animal instead of a sky one. The fact the trailer hints towards a soft restart more than a sequel doesn’t help matters. For example, Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang) would supposedly be the villain of this one and all other possible sequels. Considering the timeline of these films, it might not be until mid-2040 that we’ll see the end of Avatar.

Still, should Avatar: The Way of Water reach or exceed Cameron’s expectations, that would make Cameron the first director with three consecutively released movies grossing two billion dollars each, all of them with a ten-year gap in-between.


Featured TV and Film

Blue Jean Tells An Important Story at London Film Festival

Chapter Z was lucky enough to watch Blue Jean this month at London Film Festival, and it’s definitely one we’d recommend 

Blue Jean follows Jean (Rosy McEwen), a PE teacher who frequents lesbian bars at night with her long-term partner, Viv (Kerrie Hayes). Set in 1988, Thatcher’s government are about to pass Section 28 – a law that meant homosexuality was not to be ‘promoted’ – meaning Jean has to lead this double life. When new student Lois (Lucy Halliday) arrives, Jean does everything she can to stop her sexuality from being discovered.

There are moments where some of the acting or jokes feel slightly made-for-TV, but it’s easy to get over if you choose to just to see it as it is a BBC film. Aside from that McEwan, Hayes, and Halliday, all deliver exceptional performances, and we ended up enjoying the film more than we expected going into it.

Set in the North East, Jean works in a state school in Tyneside, after recently coming out as a lesbian to friends and family since being divorced. We watch students make homophobic jokes and accusations about other students’ sexuality with Jean in the room, with students unknowing and Jean staying quiet in an attempt to keep her job.

Blue Jean
© Venice Film Festival

Outside of school, Jean goes to a lesbian bar with her friends and long-term partner Viv, an escape from the suffocating reality of being queer in 80s Britain. Whilst not ideal, Jean has accepted that she must live two lives if she wants to keep her job and livelihood.

That is until new student Lois joins the school, who despite not saying anything, is bullied for her queerness by Siobhan, a player in the school’s netball team that Jean coaches. Siobhan, like the rest of the school, is unknowing about Jean’s sexuality and so, whilst she is desperate for Jean’s approval, she mocks Lois. This is to ensure that no one suggests anything about her and her sexuality.

Lois ends up going to the same lesbian bar as Jean one night, causing Jean to be unsure of what to do, wanting to protect herself more than anything. And, this dilemma makes up the rest of the film.

Written and directed by Georgia Oakley, Blue Jean makes for an impressive feature debut. Ultimately, the story, paired with some great acting mainly from McEwan and Hayes, makes for an enjoyable watch. And, with the recent news that hate crimes in England are on the rise, it makes for an important watch too.

Featured TV and Film

Halloween Movies Coming This Spooky Season

Here’s our list of five recent and upcoming Halloween movies you should watch during spooky season

Barbarian – September 9

barbarian halloween movies
© Netflix

Barbarian is an American horror film about a woman who discovers the home she rented is double booked. The movie is directed by Zach Cregger and starring Georgina Campbell and Bill Skarsgård, so expect many jumpscares from this one. The film has been positively reviewed and out for a couple of weeks.

Goodnight Mommy – September 15

halloween movies Goodnight Mommy
© Amazon Prime

Goodnight Mommy, coming on Amazon Prime, is a remake of a 2014 Austrian psychological horror film directed by Veronica Franz and Severin Fiala.

After a mother of twins returns to their country home bandaged from plastic surgery, the twins start to suspect that she could be an impostor. This time, Goodnight Mommy will be directed by Matt Sobel and star Naomi Watts, and twins Cameron and Nicholas Crovetti.

The remake has been slightly criticized of being inferior to the original, but you can be the judge of which is the spookiest of the two.

Hocus Pocus 2 – September 30

halloween movies hocus focus 2
© Disney+

Hocus Pocus is one of the most famous Halloween movies. One of the campiest films with a catchy soundtrack, including “I Put a Spell on You,” and a hundred play revivals will get a sequel on Disney+.

Three young women accidentally bring back the evil Sanderson Sisters to modern-day Salem and they must figure out how to stop them from wreaking havoc on the youth once more.

The Munsters – September 27

rob zombies the munsters
© Netflix

The Munsters is Rob Zombie’s passion project revival of the 1960’s show with the same name.

While the trailer has been criticized due to its apparently lacklustre art direction, there are still many expectant fans waiting to be surprised by this quirky suburban family of friendly monsters.

This one’s more of a comedy film with horror elements and will tell the story of how Herman and Lily Munster met back in Transylvania.

Deadstream – October 6

Deadstream movie
© Shudder

Deadstream is a found footage horror film set in the present day, where a decadent YouTuber looking for clout tries to get his followers back by live-streaming one lonely night in a haunted house. Sounds like something you’ve seen before in real life, doesn’t it?

Turns out that by doing so, he angers a vengeful spirit and his live stream now becomes a fight for his life. Sounds quirky enough to veer into the terrifying territory.

Not all of them are horror movies, but they will set the mood for the coming spooky season.

Featured TV and Film

Peter Pan & Wendy: First look at New Live Action Disney Movie

Peter Pan & Wendy is set to be a live-action adaptation of Walt Disney’s 1953 animated film Peter Pan

The teaser features a stunning shot of Neverland, and the arrival of Wendy and the Lost Boys. Originally, it was announced that the film would release on Disney+ due to COVID-19  and then released theatrically. In 2020, it was announced the film would be released as a Disney+ exclusive.

Fans responded to the teaser stating that it’d be hard to top the original Peter Pan (2003) film with Peter Isaacs, which was made by Universal studios.

Disney+ is taking a myriad of new projects for both film and TV, not too different from what Netflix once did with all their Netflix Originals pre-pandemic. Among their newer projects, we have a Peter Pan & Wendy live-action. The teaser for the new show was released on D23.

The cast includes newcomers Alexander Molonoy as Peter Pan, and Ever Anderson as Wendy. Jude Law will play Captain Hook, Jim Gaffigan will play Mr. Smee, Yara Shahidi will play Tinker Bell and Alyssa Wapanatâhk will be Tiger Lily. And, Anderson has expressed amazement at being able to play Wendy, and stated that the new adaptation has worked very hard to give her character more depth and nuance. 

Peter & Wendy film poster
Peter & Wendy film poster © Disney

The fantasy adventure film will be directed by David Lowery, based on a screenplay by Lowery and Toby Halbrooks. The pair had previously worked on the 2016 remake of Disney’s Pete’s Dragon. Lowery and Halbrook had been working on the drafts for the screenplay for a couple of years. Development for the project started on April 13, 2016.

The title “Peter Pan & Wendy” implicitly states that both characters are seen as equals in the film. In the first-look footage, the attendees to D23 were introduced to a live-action Wendy who joins the boy who refuses to grow up on a magical trip to Neverland. The new series will also re-imagine and expand the role of Tiger Lily, described in Peter Pan as a princess in her own right. The character has received a lot of criticism over the years due to racist depictions, however, Wapanatâhk is a Canadian Cree actress.

Many fans expressed a mix of excitement and curiosity about Lowery’s vision for the film. Many praised the diversity and consistency of his directing resume despite not being 40 yet.

Disney’s long-term project for their previous animated films is to have them adapted to live-action format. They began with The Lion King, followed by Mulan, and most recently, Pinnochio.

Peter Pan & Wendy is set to release on Disney+ in 2023.

Featured TV and Film

Johnny Depp Made a Surprise Cameo Appearance at the VMAs

Johnny Depp made a surprise cameo appearance at the recent 2022 MTV Video Music Awards.
The actor was not there to present an award or perform, but instead his face was superimposed
onto the VMA’s trademark ‘Moonman,’ which was hoisted above the stage and floated over the
crowd during the ceremony.

Aside from a few European concerts with Jeff Beck, this was Depp’s first notable public
appearance since winning his multi-million dollar defamation trial against his ex-wife Amber
Heard, over a 2018 op-ed in which she described herself as a representative of domestic abuse.

Despite joking during the cameo that he was there because he ‘needed the work,’ Depp now
seems to be well into his post-trial redemption tour and has charted his career revival, with no
shortage of opportunities. He has booked multiple new film gigs, announced he is releasing an
album, created a TikTok account with over 16.5 million followers and re-upped his relationship
with Dior, signing a multiyear, seven-figure deal with the fashion house.

According to those present, audience members did not see Depp’s cameo, leading to
speculation that Depp’s Moonman segments were pre-recorded and his segments and the
subsequent applause were edited in for the television broadcast. It is likely that this was the
case due to the high chance that Depp’s appearance would have been met with a mixed
reaction from the audience.

The cameo appearance caught the attention of Amber Heard’s sister Whitney Henriquez, who
lashed out at MTV via Instagram, calling the move ‘desperate’ and ‘disgusting’ and reactions
from the public have been divided.

However, regardless of the reaction, the fact that Depp was given such a large platform by MTV
is a devastating blow to survivors of domestic abuse, especially after such a complex and
damning trial, which did not in fact clear Depp of any claims of abuse, but rather just
condemned Heard for talking about her experience and labeling it as domestic abuse.

MTV’s decision to include Johnny Depp in such a high profile awards show sends a clear message that
once again, high profile men in Hollywood are able to live their lives to a different set of rules.

Featured TV and Film

Winnie-the-Pooh Horror Film is Delightfully Bonkers

Winnie-the-Pooh: Blood and Honey see Pooh and Piglet become murderous animalistic humanoids instead of stuffed animals

The concept surrounding might sound barebones for a slasher film in the 21st century if it weren’t for the two iconic childhood friends chasing down Christopher Robin and others. Yes, we’re talking about a real thing.

The Hundred Acre Woods has been left without food and, amid starvation, the two beloved animals have eaten Eeyore and are set out on revenge against their former friend.

Winnie the Pooh entered the public domain on January 1, 2022. This means anyone can make an adaptation now. The film is produced by Jagged Edge Productions and will be distributed by ITN Studios and MovieCompany.

Christopher Robin returns years later with his new wife and a couple of friends, looking to introduce them to his old friends. Winnie-the-Pooh and Piglet weren’t amused, to say the least. The lack of food and fending themselves for so long made them become feral, returning to their animal roots.

To avenge their betrayal, they decided to go on a murderous rampage for human flesh, including attacking a group of college girls who occupy a rural cabin. The film was shot in the Ashdown Forest of East Sussex, England and has received some criticism for the apparent fact that it takes a beloved childhood character and turns him into a slasher film serial killer.

Winnie-the-Pooh from the new Horror Adaption
Winnie-the-Pooh from the new Horror Adaption @ Immortal Masks

In the trailer, Pooh wears a red flannel shirt with overalls, while Piglet wears a boiler suit and looks more like a Boarglet. Apparently, this was an intentional choice by the director to avoid potential issues with copyright claims and to distance the movie from the children’s book series.

People have called the film a horrific take on Winnie-the-Pooh, and that it had the makings of a dark and twisted cult classic. However, Jon Mendelsohn, a writer for Collider, called the film images bizarre, nightmare fuel and that the internet is freaking out. 

Others praised the idea, with Rotem Rusak from Nerdisk expressing that seeing the iconic childhood bear reimagined as a nightmarish slasher monster denotes a delightful imaginative spirit. 

If you’re not alienated by the idea of children’s characters being turned into monstrous killers, ala online creepypasta meets the big screen, then you might enjoy the film. 

And, the backlash didn’t deter creator Frake-Waterfield, who wants to create a sequel to go “even crazier and more extreme.”

Other stories that entered the public domain include Bambi, with some Redditors clamouring for a more book-accurate animated film adaptation.

Featured Thought + Opinion

Period Dramas: Are They Out of Touch?

Do we still need period dramas when their historical settings were built upon oppressive regimes?

Period dramas have had undeniable success, from Mr Darcy’s wet shirt lake walk to the more recent Anthony Bridgertons steamy romance with Kate Sharma. Period dramas can have a significant cultural impact and tend to attract a large myriad of viewership. The success of period dramas in modern-day society is usually due to a disconnect with old-fashioned, chivalrous romance. It’s a time of yearning and of polite courting processes which modern-day viewers long for. The swooning!

However, of course, period dramas reflect a time in which women, minorities and the poor were notoriously oppressed and withdrawn from mainstream society. The role of women in these eras is one of subservience and fulfilling natural domestic duties. Not to mention extreme racism in the form of slavery and segregation. These time periods were of course beyond problematic.

Pride and Prejudice series
Pride and Prejudice series © BBC

For example, so many of Austen’s stories centre around women’s pursuit of marriage, particularly what was deemed as good, economic sense within marriage. Marriage was deemed as a business transaction, pairing good families and bloodlines together to further the upper classes. However within Austen’s narratives is a lot of romance, like in Pride and Prejudice where we see Elizabeth and Darcy overcome these expectations of the wealthy marrying the wealthy as love conquers all. But, there are still so many red flags within the time period of inequality that are disconnected from modern society. On the whole, most viewers of period dramas will be watching to escape from their lives, to get lost in an unfamiliar world. So, you’d presume then that most people know what they’re signing up for upon watching. 

In modern adaptations of these stories, like the recent Netflix film Persuasion, we see filmmakers trying desperately to placate these differences in class, race, gender and societal change by painting the era with a modern brush. Whilst this can work, in Persuasion, it was lazily done with little thought to maintaining original character development. Ann Elliot as the main character is kind, loyal and strong but shy in her mannerisms. However, when painted with a modern Hollywood brush, Dakota Johnson made her bold, rude and loud, something many didn’t enjoy.

Persuasion Period Drama
Persuasion © Netflix

Arguably, period dramas work the best when they maintain the traditions and old-fashioned charm that have clearly allowed the stories to remain popular over hundreds of years. Of course, modernising certain elements should be allowed, but done creatively while still maintaining characters’ original personalities. 

So, how can we blend the history of the time period with the modern day? If so many of the archetypes within historical stories revolve around an oppressor and an oppressed person, particularly the intensity and dangerousness of misogyny at the time, how can this fit into today’s society and be accepted, let alone enjoyed? Truthfully for a large chunk of Austen’s work, romance takes precedence over politics and inequality. It’s more background noise, accepted by audiences but not necessary to the story.

We know that as society moves further towards equality every day we find ourselves revisiting past media to examine what went wrong and why it hasn’t aged well and is deemed problematic. But, it’s a difficult question to ponder how far back we must go in holding inequality accountable. We’re aware that the 1700s are very much over and that many of these examples of oppression don’t exist in society today or at least not commonly. It’s obvious to admit that our society no longer mirrors society back then, But how much longer can these stories exist in such a modern and progressive world? 

The windswept high drama romance, the looks across the room and yearning are all elements of traditional old stories that I think will always remain popular, as long as people fall in love there will be media like this. The sexism, oppression and backwards societal rules however have an ever-decaying expiry date.

So, the question is, can old-fashioned romance survive in period dramas without that inequality? Or, since so much of the traditional romance is centred around men overpowering women, can it only truly exist in a somewhat sexist sphere?