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Nope Movie Review (Spoiler Free)

An unusual mystery horror, with a neo-western flair. Nope is an interesting flick that not only has an appealing enigmatic style but contains a lot of social criticism.

Genre: Horror / Sci-Fi / Western

Director: Jordan Peele

Cast: Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, Brandon Perea, Steven Yeun, Wrenn Schmidt, Michael Wincott, Jacob Kim & Keith David.

Run Time: 130 min.

US Release: 22 July 2022

UK Release: 12 August 2022

German Release: 11 August 2022


I am a huge fan of Jordan Peele! Get Out was among one of the best psychological thrillers I have seen, while Us was more of a horror expose on the philosophical study of consciousness - hence the title. So naturally, Nope was ranking very high, as one of my most anticipated films of the year. It took me a while to finally dig out sometime in this month’s busy schedule, but I finally managed to catch a screening and it was absolutely worth it! Nope, might not be Peele’s best work, yet it’s still a horror flick, made to experience in theatres!


After the fall of random objects from the sky result in the death of their father, ranch-owning siblings OJ and Emerald Haywood attempt to capture video evidence of an unidentified flying object, with the help of tech salesman Angel Torres and documentarian Antlers Holst.


On the surface level, Peele’s newest picture is a love letter to blockbuster cinema. The director himself stated that when penning down the screenplay, he envisioned a flying saucer spectacle that could only be truly enjoyed on the silver screen. The story was developed during the beginning of the COVID pandemic, with many of the newfound fears that surfaced during that time - fear of the future of the cinema, as well as the fear of going outside - worked into the treatment. The narrative is full of tributes to Spielberg and Kubrick, while the build of suspense along two-thirds of the runtime, can be attributed to Hitchcockian influence.

Of course, vague thematic interpretations are included in the story. While I am always a fan of figuring things out for myself, even I need to confess that Peele might have gone overboard with his subtle metaphorical references. A lot of them will not be picked up, leaving audiences confused about what they just experienced, hence the already split opinions between critics and the general audience.


Even if the message behind Peele’s sci-fi horror is a little too ominous, the subjects implemented are definitely worth talking about, giving the whole picture a deeper meaning. First, the topic of predator and prey is not just a superficial point but is also used metaphorically, as an expansion of what is happening on screen. The hierarchy in Hollywood is pretty clear; cast and directors get most of the praise, while the people in the background are more often than not forgotten. In many ways this is a thank you note to the crew, working behind the scenes, making the magic happen!


Nope is pretty subversive in nearly all possible ways. It doesn’t render itself to the usual three-act division, as it is more of an all-out adventure. Then there is the fact that the regisseur breaks the unbearable tension with surprisingly dry comedy. That said, it also contains a side plot that isn’t needed, diverting from the main story, even though it touches upon the topic of how tragedy is nowadays used by the media as a spectacle.


The movie contains very little dialogue, most of it is energetic and comes from Keke Palmer’s character. All of the comedy is rendered through conversations, or lack-off in this case, as one simple word was already enough, to make the screening room break out in mild laughter.

I am not going to talk about any characters other than the two leads, to avoid spoilers. However, performances by Steven Yeun, Brandon Perea as well as Michael Wincott are fantastic!


Daniel Kaluuya, cast as Otis Jr “OJ” Haywood, gives one of his best renditions, which is saying something because he is pretty brilliant in every role he accepts. OJ is a very quiet persona of little words, thus it is Kaluuya’s physicality and facial features that breathe life into the character. OJ’s stance, including his abnormal relaxed aura during moments of heightened terror, is what gave this blockbuster an unforgettable atmosphere.


Keke Palmer, in contrast to Kaluuya’s OJ, plays his younger sister Emerald “Em” Haywood. Em is the more flamboyant and lively character of the two siblings. She is emotionally more approachable as a character! She might come off as pretty egoistic at the beginning, though she manages to win the audience over with her energy and comedy. This is Palmer's standout performance!


Visually, this is Peele’s greatest achievement, using awe-inspiring cinematography that is very reminiscent of Spielberg. The alien saucer is never fully revealed until the end, a technique that was used in Jaws, to build fright and suspense. The gorgeous-looking nighttime sequences are something that audiences have never experienced in a movie before. Those segments are used efficiently to immerse the audience with the character, as we are experiencing everything from their point of view. The wide shots focusing on the sky plus dessert, underline the fear of open space, metaphorical during the peak of the pandemic.


The special effects are very well designed and look original. CalTech professor John O. Dabiri was hired to come up with a blueprint of the flying saucer. That is as far as I will go to inform you about the visual effects, as it is best to experience it on screen. Other than that, there are quite a few good-looking practical effects and the setting of the dusty desert accentuates the western flair.

 

Verdict: Jordan Peele’s third feature is another homerun! I heard from a lot of people that it is unfocused, though I could not disagree more! Yes, it has a short secondary narrative that is not tied up to the main plot, just as it may be a little too ambiguous with its figurative facets. Nevertheless, the script is engaging and contains enough social commentary to keep viewers thinking about it long after watching it. It also is disturbingly frightening, building up tension to such an extent, that the light comedic undertones used, come as a welcoming change, to break it up. The best aspects of the film, however, are the Spielberg-esque cinematography, which contains incredible night sky sequences, as well as the brilliant performances by Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer. Nope is in my opinion his weakest flick, nevertheless an amazing silver-screen experience, worthy of a solid 8.0 out of 10.


Have you seen Nope yet? Do you agree with my review? Let me know in the comments. Thank you once again for reading!


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