Nope ★★★★

This review may contain spoilers. I can handle the truth.

This review may contain spoilers.

In the past, I’ve had my criticisms of Jordan Peele. I think he’s an excellent director with a great eye whose scripts don’t quite work, in the same vein as M. Night Shyamalan. People rightfully give him credit for the social commentary embedded in his films and it is fantastic to see more people of color making movies, especially horror movies, I just haven’t been ready to crown him as the genius that others seem to see him as. Nope might be a step towards convincing me. It’s a very strong effort throughout, from the really intriguing opening scene where coins and keys rain from the sky like bullets to the real sense of wonder and adventure during the climactic encounter. It’s a great science fiction horror western with one of the most fascinating interpretations of aliens since Arrival, and I think it’s easily my favorite of his films.

I enjoy the way Peele steals liberally from other films. I’m sure some of this is intentional and some is just my brain making connections to other things I’ve seen. One scene briefly recalls Kiyoshi Kurosawa’s Pulse and much of the build up is reminiscent of Signs. There are also aspects of Annihilation and even Jurassic Park. The references are nicely synthesized and never overwhelm his original story. Here, he blends genres just as nimbly as he remixes his influences. There are moments of absolutely great tension, awe-inspiring wonder, and a bold adventure. There’s also at least one very well-done jump scare.

I was pleasantly surprised to see Michael Wincott show up as the cinematographer. I recognized his gravelly voice the moment he started speaking. My formative years included far too many viewings of The Crow, so his specific cadence is indelibly imprinted on my brain. Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer are incredible, but I’m always so happy when an oddball character actor pops up in something. There are also great performances from Stephen Yeun and Brandon Perea. Even Oz Perkins shows up in a minor role.

I have some questions, I’m sure as many do, about the Gordy sections. I understand that they fit the themes of the film and inform the characters’ actions, especially Jupe (Yeun), but I can’t help feeling like they don’t fit the rest of the film as well as they could. I liked the inclusion of the floating shoe, though; that’s been interesting to think about. I also thought that the chapter titles, named after various horses and a chimp, were an interesting stylistic choice, but probably unnecessary.

Viewed as part of Hooptober 9.

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