LeonDeon’s review published on Letterboxd:
I imagine that would be hard for anybody to capture the cultural Zeitgeist that was Jordan peele's debut film 'Get Out'. The film when did Jordan Peele and Academy Award. All eyes are on him at this point. So what do you do? How do you make a return to form? I think this added pressure is probably something another returning filmmaker felt earlier in their career. M Night was once a young filmmaker who set the world on fire with his film 'The Sixth Sense' and that now infamous Newsweek cover photo was forcing all eyes on him with his next film 'Unbreakable'. Although the cultural and critical reception at the time of that film's release was mostly lukewarm. The difference of history here is that Peele has managed to grab the attention of critical reception yet again with critics and audiences alike. This might be the reason Jordan stays in the game for a bit longer.
'Us' shows us that Jordan has a passion for telling the stories he wants to tell, these really weird and bizarre stories focusing on some social aspect of human nature while trying to optimize audience retention. This is not an arthouse film, please please please stop making that comparison as that isn't the true intention of the film. It's not going to be something that is an ethereal horror tone poem which for some reason people were expecting. Let me set this straight. It is a Hollywood horror film and there is nothing wrong with that. Peele was able to get his stories told because Blumhouse took a risk on him and it became one of the most successful films financially that year and as previously stated won him an Academy Award. Things were never gonna be the same for Peele. I believe he tapped into a market of stories people wanted to see done with wider distribution and that he did with 'Us' as it is going to be weird to most moviegoers.
With his own production company Monkey Paw, he was able to get the right people in his corner when making this film. It's got the look of a professional looking film with an eye for lighting and color. Take a look at 'Get Out' and draw comparisons from how each film looks aesthetically. It is obvious and clear that this film has more of a budget and more skilled people behind the camera. Not to mention with another film under his belt Peele seems to be more comfortable with the camera and pen. 'Us' needed more time in the oven. It needed more time to incubate and develop. What makes 'Get Out' more alluring is the amount of time spent with the writing process and developing the core ideas. 'Us' seems to lack the coherency that the film prior had. Not that everything in the story needed to be understood but it needs to have more meat on its bones as it leaves more to be desired from storytelling and thematic perspective.
What I have to do is sing the praise of Lupita Nyong’o's performance and how she was able to portray so many different emotions on a dime and is able to make both characters believable and made me feel something for her characters. Her eyes convey so much and they illicit emotions by how it's captured by the lends and direction. Her character seems to have the most attention put to it as she is the lead and the central focus of the film in a thematic and storytelling angle. I wish that everyone else was better. I wanted to enjoy more of Elisabeth Moss and Tim Heidecker who I understand are not the focus of the film but I cannot help but feel like they are underutilized in the film. Winston Duke feels like a Jordan Peele surrogate wherein Peele wrote himself as this character in delivery and in the presentation of that character. The kids in the film are also enjoyable in their performances and work in their characters. Overall the cast isn't as well used as I would've desired and made me desire more from these talented folks.
'Us' is the film that will spread like wildfire to a dry brush. It is going to be the film that sticks around for a long while and will incite conversation among moviegoers of all kinds, from the casual audiences to the hardcore critical analysts. Jordan Peele is the man of the month right now with all eyes on him and there will be detractors and praises. 'Us' is muddled with its story in a grand scope and leaves more to be desired. It left me wanting more from the cast besides the main as it leaves me wanting more I wanted to walk out with more than what I got from it. 'Us' is not 'Get Out' and that is a good and bad thing.