Zoë 🐝’s review published on Letterboxd:
I ultimately feel disappointed with Nope. It feels pretty standard, with glimmers of interesting moments and ideas that are bogged down by a generic alien invasion story.
One thing I did like was how this film discussed animal instincts. As I was sitting in the theater watching the trailers before the movie, I was surprised to see a trailer for the anniversary release of Jaws, and the new movie Beast, about an evil killer lion (which looks atrociously terrible on both a moral and entertainment level), but Nope does actually have a lot in common with Jaws, as the alien in this story is not the typical fellow sentient being we usually see in science fiction, but instead is an animal acting on its natural survival instincts. I loved that idea, because as human beings we do assume that extraterrestrial life would also be sentient and think similarly to us, but most animals on Earth are not like us and are relying on mostly instincts to survive. I liked how Nope compared the alien creature to other animals like chimpanzees and horses, and drew a connection between how animals are mistreated in the entertainment business and how the ultimate goal of the characters is to capture the alien on film (ultimately Nope does little with this connection, but it is certainly there). The alien is not malevolent, much like how Gordy the chimpanzee was not malevolent when he was triggered into attack while filming Gordy's Home. Sometimes animals do violent things, either for their survival, such as for sustenance like the alien, or out of fear, like the chimpanzee. There's no moral judgement on such acts, just contemplation of them and how we as humans, with our complicated and fraught moral compasses, fit into this equation.
So if it isn't already clear, all the stuff involving Gordy and Steven Yeun's character Jupe was interesting to me, and I found that to be much scarier and engrossing than the main plot to take down the alien, which really became tedious once we abandon the Gordy/Jupe subplot altogether to focus exclusively on the alien (which, it must be said, looks like a vagina made out of tissue paper, which I guess technically would be fine sans the whole scary vagina swallowing up human lives implication and the stupid can of worms that opens, the real issue is it's just not very good character design in general). The flashback of Gordy's rampage is the best scene in the film and is genuinely terrifying and disturbing, along with the aftermath of the attack, where SNL and Mad Magazine eagerly make humorous content out of a violent tragedy. But ultimately, this interesting story of Gordy and how Jupe is processing (or not processing) the trauma of this event of his childhood never really gels with the story of the alien, and just left me wanting more from that plotline and less of the mediocrely paced alien antics.