What's a bad miracle?
Nope is a 2022 science fiction horror film directed by Jordan Peele, written by Jordan Peele, produced by Universal Pictures and Monkeypaw Productions, and distributed by Universal Pictures. It stars Keke Palmer and Daniel Kaluuya.
"Don't look. Don't look. Don't look." - Emerald Haywood
Two siblings that own a ranch in the middle of nowhere discover something mysterious and terrifying in the sky as they try to capture proof of the first extraterrestrial life on Earth.
My Expectations Going In
Nope was one of my most anticipated movies of this year. Jordan Peele is one of the most unique and consistent filmmakers working today. Get Out is my third favorite film of all time. I love his style. The atmospheres he creates is unlike anything else. His stories are always innovative and interesting. The themes and deeper meanings of his movies are always worth talking about. I was very excited to see what he did with Nope. None of the trailers wowed me, so it dampened my excitement slightly, but I was still very excited for this movie.
Did it live up to my expectations? Let's find out.
In a world dominated by Marvel and Star Wars, Nope is also able to make a name for itself as a summer blockbuster by simply having Jordan Peele's name attached to the project. And he delivers. It's always exciting when a director starts to have noticeable trademarks, and Nope has Jordan Peele's trademark style all over it. He's able to make scenes that should feel entirely normal feel off and unsettling. He uses silence very effectively. He uses comedy appropriately. Alfred Hitchcock used to say that comedy adds intensity to a scene, and he was right. Peele will inject a joke in the middle of a very creepy scene without undercutting the tension. And he does that a lot in Nope. The cinematography is great. There are some super cool shots. Peele just has a unique style that always makes his films interesting. And Nope is interesting.
This film also feels like a classic monster movie. Yes, the actors are from our generation. There's CGI. But everything else feels like a classic Universal monster movie. The main influence seems to be Jaws, but the film has elements of other classic alien or monster movies, like Frankenstein or Invasion of the Body Snatchers. It has the spectacle of one of those movies. And that gives it this specifically old-timey feel, despite the fact that it's a modern movie with modern technology. I really liked that aspect.
One of the main reasons I was excited for Nope was the second team-up of Jordan Peele and Daniel Kaluuya. Kaluuya gave one of the best performances I've ever seen in Get Out, and he's great in Nope, too. Peele clearly knows how to handle actors, because our two main actors (Kaluuya and Keke Palmer) act as a great foil to each other. Keke Palmer gives this energetic performance where she's charming and likable regardless of what she's actually doing, while Daniel Kaluuya gives a quieter, more intelligent performance. He's able to communicate so much without saying a lot, and that was really impressive. Their chemistry was a highlight of the movie for me.
I mentioned this before, but Jordan Peele is fantastic at crafting an unsettling atmosphere in normal situations. Nope has a lot of that. There are scenes of people just walking in a field that will have you on the edge of your seat. Every time a normal scene is happening, something just always feels wrong. And it adds to this eerie atmosphere that Peele is able to craft. While I think Us is the scariest Jordan Peele movie, Get Out and Nope are just great atmospheric films.
Nope also has some very clear themes and messaging, which worked...for the most part. I'll get into that later. It seems to be a commentary on the Hollywood industry and how ruthless it can be, and that metaphor made sense in light of the story and characters. I liked that Peele went for a different message that wasn't as racially driven here, and I thought it worked (again, for the most part).
However, the metaphor doesn't really work near the end of the film. The third act is set up as this big, epic showdown, but it eventually evolves into this metaphoric, allegoric scene that trades story for symbolism. With Get Out, the message and social commentary was built into the plot. Peele didn't need to force in something, because it just flowed with the story. In Nope, he needs to shove the deeper meaning into the end, therefore undercutting the story. He sidelines logic and plot for symbolism and messaging, and it just doesn't work.
The film really does lose its footing in the climax. The last three films that Jordan Peele has written (Us, Candyman, and now Nope) have had good setups and just collapse in the finale, which is really disappointing. Peele's movies work best when his direction and screenplay mesh seamlessly, which is why Get Out is amazing, but Nope doesn't mesh seamlessly. The screenplay goes for some things in the third act that just aren't really there. It was a disappointing way to end an otherwise solid film.
The main plot of Nope is also very strange and unexpected. The plot doesn't really seem like a horror movie. It more feels like a sci-fi drama. Hell, had someone else directed this movie, I'm not entirely sure it would play like a horror movie. The main plot involves the characters trying to capture the UFO on camera, which just didn't seem like the most interesting direction to take this concept. Once again, it works for the metaphor, but it takes away from the overall experience when all Peele is focused on is the allegory and symbolism.
Finally, the screenplay is probably Peele's worst. Get Out is a nearly flawless film. Us is a more flawed film, but both of those movies are tightly written and have big twists and turns that the audience does not see coming. They are both intelligent and innovative movies. Nope is neither. It's not really that clever. It doesn't outsmart the audience. And it's not that innovative. Seeing a classic monster movie in modern form is cool, but it's not inventive. It's nowhere near as creative or complex as Peele's other two films. Alongside that, the dialogue doesn't feel as sharp. It's clunky and sometimes weird. It feels like Peele nailed the direction for this movie, but was off his game when it came to the actual script.
Final Thoughts and Score
Nope has all of the trademarks of Jordan Peele's distinct, thrilling style, but it lacks the substance and intelligence that Get Out and Us had. There's a lot to like here, but a messy third act will leave you with a sour taste in your mouth.
I think I will still go Savory here. Age range is 12+.
SWEET N' SOUR SCALE
Sweet (Great) Savory (Good) Sour (Bad)
Fun Factor: 6.5/10
Directed by Jordan Peele
Rated R for strong bloody violence, frightening themes and images, strong language, thematic elements
Released on July 22, 2022
2 hours and 11 minutes
Daniel Kaluuya as Otis Haywood Jr.
Keke Palmer as Emerald Haywood
Steven Yeun as Ricky Park
Brandon Perea as Angel Torres
Michael Wincott as Antlers Holst
Keith David as Otis Haywood Sr.
Wrenn Schmidt as Amber Park
Terry Notary as Gordy