'Nope' Is A Jumbled Bag Of Summer Fun and Thought Provoking Drama
By Sal LoCicero | July 30, 2022
Jordan Peele is back with another original feature that is to polarize and entertain audiences. Ever since his directorial debut, ‘Get Out’ (which won Best Adapted Screenplay at the 2018 Academy Awards), Peele has proven how much of a talented force he is behind the camera, developing the most curious stories that start to make you question how one can visualize these ideas. Already three films in his directing career, and while each project shares the same comedic structure, there is no doubt that Jordan Peele’s work always feels refreshing.
His latest feature, ‘Nope’, takes - somewhat - the same approach as both ‘Get Out’ and ‘Us’. In this, we follow two siblings who run a Hollywood house ranch, after the recent death of their father, they begin noticing a strange object from up in the sky, they make a plan to capture it on their surveillance camera, but, the object in the sky could possibly have a sinister background that connects to the owner of an adjacent theme park.
As it’s been confirmed by the producer and the studio, ‘Nope’ is Peele’s most ambitious film yet. Redefining the horror genre with his two previous films, Peele has now dipped his toes in science-fiction. But, as much as ‘Nope’ market’s itself as a sci-fi thriller, there’s a lot more that is crammed in here, but the question is, does it all work? If you’ve seen ‘Get Out’ or ‘Us’ then you should know exactly what to expect in a film like this, and there is enough deep meaning and symbolism here to make your head spin - for better or worse.
Throughout the first and second acts is where there is most potential. The first scene opens with the aftermath of a disturbingly vile incident that takes you right off guard, leading you to wonder when the scene will come into play again. The first act has a slow pace that takes us around Haywood Ranch, and the theme park “Jupiter's Claim'', hinting that the two places could have a major role later on, which gives off a filmmaking technique most commonly used in retro-western epics. Cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema (Dunkirk, Tenet) uses the IMAX camera once again to shoot some of the most immersive scenes that are to have moviegoers holding onto the edge of their seats in immense shock.
We get a good introduction to our main protagonists, Otis Jr. (Daniel Kaluuya) and Emerald “Em” Haywood (Keke Palmer), two siblings with opposite personalities. Otis Jr. is an introvert who keeps his mind focused towards the family business, while ‘Em” is an extrovert. Kaluuya and Palmer play majorly different roles, yet are both perfectly casted. Keke Palmer easily gives a scene-stealer performance, but Kaluuya’s likeness adds so much more to his character. Brandon Perea as Angel, a salesman at Fry's Electronics, who, at first, comes off more as a comedic relief, but after a while he turns more likable. Steven Yeun, who plays the carnival owner Ricky “Jupe” Park, was pretty good. Ricky’s backstory is set up to add an even darker aspect to the story, but the subplot is eventually abandoned once the last act kicks into play.
Jordan Peele keeps pushing himself to be the first in horror to do the undone, and surprisingly enough, it’s worked. But here, Peele takes this story and experiments with it way too much. He tries to mix different storylines in, changing up the genre from thriller to action, and while he has played around with genres before, this time, it doesn’t exactly work well. The last act forgets what it was supposed to build up to, it feels like a different movie that takes inspiration from ‘Jaws’. The terrifying opening shot that is teased to be more prevalent in the movie is buried once the second act finishes. There are some absurd plot points and characters that are referenced, mainly to cause fan theories.
This is going to be the “original” summer blockbuster to polarize many who see it, some might consider this to be Peele’s best movie, and others might consider this to be his worst. ‘Nope’ is Jordan Peele’s Midsommar; It’s got a lot of potential, but loses it halfway in the process.
What are your thoughts?