This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Michael Marino’s review published on Letterboxd:
This review may contain spoilers.
Quick note: Nope is the first spoiler-laden movie review I've done in my five years as a member of this site.
The major reason for this is that I recognized I'd need to do so in order to adequately examine one of the film's most pivotal moments for my review.
It's the one in the film that struck me as being the most contentious. But I'll get to that in a bit, so take some deep breaths and let's get started, shall we?
In any case, while I thought Nope was Peele's poorest picture of the three he's done so far, I'd still argue that it's his strongest directorial effort as a filmmaker that he's made yet.
Right away from the film's opening frame, you can see that this will be his most ambitious project yet to come out of his directorial career.
It's his first film that doesn't fit into the elevated horror subgenre as his previous two films did. That being said, the film nonetheless incorporates several plot elements that may be characterized as belonging to the subgenre. However, it's not as apparent as Get Out and Us were, at least not for someone of my stupidity.
Upon exiting the theater, I suspect many moviegoers will erroneously conclude that this film was merely about some individuals attempting to photograph an alien. I mean, you could undoubtedly argue that it is. However, upon closer inspection, this is not the case at all.
Nonetheless, even if I don't understand the bulk of this picture, which is appropriately titled "Nope," I feel I can grasp at least some of its more profound significance.
All of this culminates in my perception of the Gordy chimp rampage on the television soundstage, which, apart from the alien ingestion scene, is undoubtedly the scariest and most notable one in the entire film.
Peele's chimp attack sequence in this film is pure nightmare fuel. In the big picture of things, I viewed it as a cinematic mash-up of the incidents with Tyke the elephant and Travis the chimpanzee. Two well-known real-life occurrences of sentient creatures retaliating against their natural surroundings, one of which does not pertain to them, wink wink, like the one the alien is in this film.
Nonetheless, I wanted to bring up this scene from the film not only because it is one of my favorites but also because I've seen a lot of people online argue that it shouldn't have been in the film at all and that it serves no significant contextual narrative function in the grand scheme of things for the film.
And with that, I can only say, "Really?" Even my stupid ass (I've been calling myself dumb a lot in this review, but I'm rolling, so it's okay) recognizes that the sequence serves as the entire connecting tissue of all the plot occurrences in it.
If this scene had not transpired in the film, Jupe, played by Steven Yeun, would not have performed his alien horse gobble goo show at Jupiter's Claim, where the spaceship consumed everyone in the audience. And, come to think of it, the sequence was crucial in establishing the justification for what occurs to some of the film's characters when they view the extraterrestrial spaceship being.
First-bump anyone, and no, not you, Baymax. You've had enough of them, big fella. The cool kid now is Gordy, the blood-covered chimp.
Anyway, I've already gone on much too long discussing this one scene in the film, so let's move on, and from here, I'll mention a few more things I feel are worth mentioning before wrapping things up.
Let's start by discussing the cast that Mr. Peele has assembled for this film because it's fantastic.
Out of everyone involved in this film, Keke Palmer was easily the best performer. I might be a tad biased since I've been on the Palmer go-round since I watched her in Akeelah and the Bee for the first time on DVD when I was eight years old, almost 16 years ago. Thus, this is not at all surprising. Plus, that Akira bike slide she performs in the final act. Lord have mercy, I nearly fainted in my recliner seat.
She is so endearing in every frame of this that it hurts. Nevertheless, in a good way, and between Austin Butler in Elvis and my True Jackson, VP (if you've been living under a rock, this was the Nickelodeon program that she was on) Keke, the summer of 2022 seems to be the summer movie season for former Nickelodeon actors. LMAO.
Daniel Kaluuya performs quite admirably in his role as OJ here. However, I still felt that, for some inexplicable reason, his character's personality was lacking, at least in comparison to the one he played in Peele's earlier work. This might be because his character's charisma is presented very differently in Peele's Get Out than in this film. In this film, he gives a much more controlled and subdued performance, one befitting of a western, and I'm not only saying that because he rides a horse in this. Okay, I am a little. Haha.
But what I found most amusing about his character was that he wore a sweatshirt from The Scorpion King (2002), which was given to the real stars and crew during the film's wrap party. Shit makes me die laughing thinking about how Peele probably demanded that the folks at Universal physically retrieve it from storage for him to incorporate it into this film.
Steven Yeun doesn't get much to do in this picture, despite having a pivotal role in my favorite moment (actually, the younger version of his character more so). Much of this is due to how quickly his character dies during the UFO swallow scenario and how he never appears on screen again after that. Which was a shame because the Chris Kattan monologue he gave in the first act had me in stitches and laughing uncontrollably.
Last but not least, I'd like to mention Barbie Ferreira, who plays a role in this nearly identical to the one she plays in the television series Euphoria, except that everything this time is done in a theatrical format. Here, she plays a role in which she speaks essentially only one line of dialogue, as the Angel character's coworker at Fry's, with only 20 seconds of screen time to boot. At this point, I simply feel bad for the girl.
Okay, I think I'll end it here. Thank you all for reading.
So, in conclusion, Nope, like Peele's other two films, is a good time.
Jordan Peele is unquestionably a virtuoso behind the camera at this point. However, I believe his strong start with Get Out harmed him more than benefited him in two subsequent cinematic undertakings after that film.
Don't treat him like the next John Carpenter or Wes Craven.
Treat him like Jordan fucking Peele, the dude who moved from being on a sketch comedy show, that of Mad TV to a directing career that has gone 3/3 quality wise.
I'll conclude with the harshest criticism I can give this picture since I'm a nice guy regarding my ratings.
That is if someone asked me whether I would like to rewatch this or the film Tremors. Which one of the two would I want to watch?
Of course, I'd pick Tremors, and so would you.
And, while each of them is cool enough to sit at the popular table by themselves, Nope isn't the football team's captain, as Tremors is.
I mean, sandworms get all the ladies. Haven't you seen how cool the new kid Dune is?