Nope ★★★★½

From the opening moments of Nope, Jordan Peele draws our attention to spectacle, specifically, society’s glorification of it. How we take the tragedies and traumas that real people experience and commodify them; instead of treating these events as cautionary tales, we sensationalize them into easily digestible tall tales that we derive entertainment from. The film centers around this ominous, overpowering UFO of which we know very little about, yet the characters' reactions to it reveal so much. We see characters attempting to run from it, only for the object to catch up with them and attempt to consume them. We see those who seek to profit off of it, putting it on display for the world to see, only for it to consume them all. The main characters figure out that by not looking at it and ignoring its presence that they can skirt by the UFO. It doesn’t make it go away or stop its rampage, but it does keep the characters safe from it. All they have to do is keep their heads down and not pay it any thought. But eventually, it’s decided by the characters that they must face the UFO head on. It’s not a problem that can be tamed or ignored, but it must be confronted, or else it will continue to terrorize and traumatize more and more people. With this one allegory of the UFO representing the broad issues of modern times, the filmmakers are able to say so much with how our characters interact with it.

And, even ignoring the many layers of social commentary, from the aforementioned analysis of spectacle to the commentary on the filmmaking process and how Hollywood attempts to tame animals for their own nefarious purposes, Nope works incredibly well as its own sci-fi, horror comedy. The characters are all entertaining, with the two leads being played to perfection by Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer. The actual science fiction elements feel incredibly fresh and exciting compared to its contemporaries. The heart pounding tension (especially of the impeccable third act) is complemented beautifully by Michael Abels’ score. Overall, Nope feels like the return of the proper horror blockbuster, the type of film that tries equal parts to disturb and excite its audience, but never forgetting the core themes that tie its story together. I’m so happy that Jordan Peele now has access to budgets and equipment worthy of bringing his visions to life, and I can’t wait to see what he has in store next.

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