Estéban Rōdriguez’s review published on Letterboxd:
I love the theater experience and I wish I could see some of my favorite films in theaters when they came out. To hear the beautiful music from ‘2001: A Space Odyssey’, To gaze at my favorite action scenes and glorious colors from ‘Hero’, or to experience the journey of the O’Brien’s in ‘The Tree of Life’. But like many art forms, cinema changes, and no matter what there’s not much that can be done to keep something the same for a long time. As a young adult, I wonder and imagine going back in cinema’s history to see it’s greatest achievements. However, as the ability of seeing cinema has frowned from theaters and tv to streaming and the internet, it says to me that nothing lasts forever and the future becomes yesterday. And now all I want in art is not what circumstance it’s in, I can still say it’s good or bad.
The reason I say this to explain why I ultimately decided to not see Christopher Nolan’s newest epic Tenet, in theaters, the way he wished many would, and watched it on my computer that I then connected on my Apple TV with surround sound speakers to get the best possible experience I could have in the comforts my own home. There was no IMAX 70mm or big theater screen to distract me from answering this question to myself. Is the movie good or bad? To that I say no to both. It’s perfectly fine.
Now I’m not gonna lie when I say that I was not liking the majority of the first hour and a half. The set up and the scenes that follow were so uninteresting and on the verge of repetitive to me with characters I could care less about. The concept of the movie was really the only thing holding it together. And for me it wasn’t really that complex and I could understand what was going on. One complaint I have heard before watching this that the sound mixing was very distracting where the dialogue couldn’t be heard throughout the whole movie. As for me, I don’t know if I have the ears in the world but besides a few lines in the action scenes I could hear everything just fine and thats really what kept me from being completely bored is seeing if I could hear the dialogue.
However... when a certain plot point happens after an action scene, that’s when I started to really like it. I became more engaged in the action and the final scenes had some interesting reveals that I did not expect. But then there’s a problem I had after I finished watching it. I didn’t really feel interested in what the questions the film leaves me with. Despite it having a unique concept of time travel, there was nothing for me to think about for long and honestly a film I don’t really have any motivation to think about again, and I believe that’s because this content is too good for what Nolan is known for. The high budget action scenes with a end-of-the-world plot limits the potential for this style of time travel. If this was some low scale Sci-fi film which a stronger focus on how the concept is elevated by characters and pure visual spectacle instead of action spectacle, there could be a film that is very fantastic. But as it is, when it’s in the hands of Nolan, I felt this had potential to be so much more.
Now as much as it sounds like I’m being negative, for the movie that it is and not the movie that I wished it was, I still thought there was a lot of effort for a lot of aspects of this film. Nolan, the actors, and the whole crew really put in their all into this and it’s still clear to me that Nolan really made this out of pure love for his idea and wanted to give the audience a memorable experience and I respect that. But not everyone will be on board (like me) and that’s fine. I’m honestly would very happy to hear of young children that say they were inspired by a movie like Tenet to make their own films that were challenging to viewer and if that becomes more prevalent in the coming years, I don’t care what movie it comes from.