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Barbenheimer – Was it Worth the Hype?

Looking back on July 21st, was the Cultural Wave of Barbenheimer Worth it?

When Worlds Collide

On July 21st, 2023, cinematic history was made on theater screens nationwide. Two movies, which are a complete contrast from each other, were released on the same day. Distributed by Warner Bros and directed by Greta Gerwig, the movie Barbie, was filled with charming performances, an emotional monologue, outstanding sets, and of course- pink! Starring Margot Robbie as Barbie and Ryan Gosling as Ken, this duo displayed an excellent performance as the iconic power couple, which left the audience with admiration for the film. 

On the contrary, this movie was directed by Christopher Nolan and distributed by Universal Pictures. Oppenheimer exposed to the audience the life of Americans during World War II and the creation of the atomic bomb. This movie starred Cilian Murphy who portrayed J. Robert Oppenheimer, the creator/father of the atomic bomb, and the centerpiece of the movie. Oppenheimer was also filled with phenomenal cinematography, marvelous acting, and astonishing resemblance between the actors and real life people. With both films being released on the same day, this created an epic movie event for the summer and a trend online for people to see both movies. 

A Glimpse into Barbie’s World

The live action movie Barbie was based on the dolls from Mattel, which were first created by Ruth Handler in the 1950s. 

I watched this movie two days after it was released in theaters, and I loved and enjoyed every second of it! For starters, I thought the sets such as the Barbie Dream Houses and the beach were incredible and seemed very dollhouse-like. I also loved the outfits worn by Margot Robbie, who portrayed Stereotypical Barbie. Her outfits, such as the cowgirl outfit, roller-blade outfit, many of her stunning dresses such as the pink gingham dress(which she wore in the scene where she floats from her dream-house), and the gold sequin jumpsuit were all amazing. I feel like the vibrant, colorful clothing and sets makes this movie so special and unique, since it’s very realistic to the doll version and the sets. 


Come on Barbie, let’s go party!

To continue, this movie also consists of many original songs to match the theme of the movie. Songs such as Dance the Night by Dua Lipa, Pink by Lizzo, I’m Just Ken by Ryan Gosling, What was I made for? by Billie Eilish, and Barbie World by Nicki Minaj and Ice Spice are my absolute favorites. Musical performances such as the big blowout party and the I’m Just Ken scenes were extraordinary and remarkable. When I watched the big blowout party scene for the first time, I never wanted that scene to end. Every little detail- from the outfits, the music, the disco lighting, to the choreography was just perfection and a total vibe. If the whole movie were to be just that scene, I would happily watch it a million times with the same excitement and desire to see it.  

Moving along to the I’m Just Ken scene, which displays later on in the film, was literally a masterpiece. First, let me point out that Ryan Gosling was 100% meant for the role of Ken and did such an amazing job bringing out the kenergy that shined through his character and this scene. When watching this scene, it was very entertaining and nonetheless looked fun and playful. For some context for those of you who haven’t watched the movie. In this scene, half of the Kens are going into a mini battle with the other half of the Kens (basically Ryan Gosling(Ken) vs Simu Liu (Ken)) because of them feeling insecure of who the better Ken is. Near the start of the song, the Kens are seen on the beach and are on two teams and are in a mini battle against each other, with plastic balls, frisbees, foam arrows,  and pool floats flying everywhere. Momentarily, this performance transitions from chaos to a musical, which displays the transformation of the Kens going against each other to unite together. The Kens realize by the end of the song that they are all equal and most importantly, the biggest moral of the performance- they are kenough. 


Gloria’s High-Powered Speech

Margot Robbie and Ryan Gosling had already dazzled the audience with their performance as Barbie and Ken, but another character that got the spotlight in the film was Gloria, who was portrayed by America Ferrera. Gloria in the film is a human and has a teenage daughter named Sasha. The monologue by Gloria is seen towards the end of the movie as a rescue of some sort, as Barbie feels hopeless in the situation she’s in. The words spoken from Gloria were so incredibly powerful and filled with such emotion that it left me feeling speechless during the monologue, and after she was finished. America did such an excellent job delivering this impactful monologue and it definitely left it’s mark on the movie and reached the audience effectively. 

Overall, I loved this movie and it really brought the liveliness and magic that fascinated me along with the audience with its greatness. Barbie has always been the highlight of my childhood, and so seeing the live action version of Barbie was just an awe-inspiring experience. I think for those who aren’t a huge fan of the pink or believe that the movie is too girly for them. However, give this movie a chance. Behind all the characteristics, the message brought to the audience is incredibly impactful. 

The Oppenheimer World

Escaping from the world of fabulous pink with Barbies and Kens, is another world, in the midst of a war. Based on the biography American Prometheus, written by Kai Bird and Martin J. Sherwin, comes Oppenheimer. Throughout the movie, it displays the life of J. Robert Oppenheimer and his works. His work was composed of his studies, his contributions to the Manhattan Project, and the aftermath of the usage of the bomb. 

When watching this movie, I realized how glad I was to have an understanding and knowledge of the events in the movie, which made it feel like an enormous history lesson. I was familiar with the war itself, the vocabulary used, and who most of the people were, which didn’t make it challenging to follow throughout the movie. At times the movie can appear to be fantastic, there were other times that it felt like a drag and made me lose interest, probably because of the long running time, which was 3 hours.


The Wondrous Acting 

The acting portrayed by the actors were outstanding, and it brought the realism to the screen when taking in perspective of the time period. Before watching this movie, I was not familiar with Cillian Murphy or the works of him, but after watching Oppenheimer, his deliverance of the role of Oppenheimer really left its mark on the movie. Robert Downey Jr, another actor who starred in the production, portrayed the role of Lewis Strauss, the antagonist of the film. RDJ’s deliverance of his role of Strauss surprised me since it introduced me to his range of acting, since the only other role I’m familiar with is his role of Tony Stark/Iron Man from the Marvel franchise. Seeing RDJ’s character go from the ally to Oppenheimer to the villain was certainly expected and was really exciting to see towards the end as the puzzles were being pieced together of the true colors of Strauss


The Eye- Catching Cinematography 

The usage of the cinematography was absolutely remarkable, going from the explosions of the bomb, to the visuals of the stars, to the black and white scenes, to the clearness of the camera. All of these scenes were visually stunning. The parts I specifically loved were the moments of silence, which occurred when the testing of the atomic bomb was successful. These moments of silence occurred at the end of the test, when Oppenheimer was being asked millions of questions and compliments because of the accomplishment of the bomb. I also thought the usage of the black and white scenes were clever and dramatic, since the scenes that were black and white were the scenes of Lewis Strauss, which I think matches with the type of character he showcases. The wonderworks of cinematography displayed in the film was truly a masterpiece and really emphasized the importance of the outcome of the bomb and the lives impacted from the destruction. 

In conclusion, I did enjoy this movie despite that it doesn’t exactly fit the genres I’m interested in. Coming from someone who enjoys roms-coms, musicals, drama, and fantasy, Oppenheimer definitely doesn’t fit the descriptions for any of my movie nights. In spite of my opinions of the movie, I would highly recommend that anyone who enjoys historical movies such as Oppenheimer would certainly be interested and delighted by the film.


To those wondering if Barbenheimer was worth the hype of the summer- the answer is yes.



Photo Credits:

The 11 Best Barbenheimer Posters of Summer 2023


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