Published on July 20th, 2022 | by Michael Newman0
NOPE Delivers A Perfect Thrill And Chill Fest
Jordan Peele has seemingly made a name for himself with his movies that take familiar tropes and completely turn them on their heads. Featuring his genius blend of dark comedy and suspense that will have the audience laughing one minute and gripping their arm wrests the next. You might go into the movie expecting one thing only to be completely surprised by the time it reaches its conclusion. That’s why it’s important to avoid spoilers as much as possible (except watching the previews) to prevent spoiling the experience. In this day and age where everyone wants to know everything about something before experiencing it, it can feel like an insurmountable challenge. While I will keep this review spoiler free, I highly recommend avoiding as much as possible prior to seeing it for yourself.
NOPE features Hollywood horse wranglers Otis “OJ” Hayword Jr. (Daniel Kaluuya) and his Sister Em (Keke Palmer) who are trying to keep their once famous horse ranch from falling permanently into obscurity after the traumatic death of their father Otis Sr. (Keith David). In a world that is quickly losing interest in live animals, favoring the easier CGI effects, it doesn’t appear that OJ will have a horse to wrangle much longer. Hoping to continue to pay the bills, and keep things going just one day more, OJ is forced to “rent” his dad’s famous horses to Jupe (Steven Yeun), an emotionally scarred child actor who has opened his own western themed amusement park. Promising to allow OJ to buy back the horses once he has the money, OJ continues to run what little business he has left.
The strange circumstances around the death of his father, and his own eyewitness accounts of something in the sky gives both Em and OJ an idea of how to get rich quick, and with the help of their very own Fry’s Electronics (may it rest in peace) onsite support and install technician Angel (Brandon Perea). The group sets out to capture the money shot, the shot that will get them on Oprah and solve all of their problems. Sadly things are rarely as easy as they seem, and things go downhill quickly.
As one would expect from Jordan Peele, the casting is absolutely top notch. Daniel Kaluuya turned down Black Panther 2 so that he could have a starring role in this Sci-Fi epic. Keke Palmer does an amazing job as the quick-witted sister who is constantly hatching side hustles, never content to just sit back and let things happen around her. Brandon Parea absolutely steals the show with his portrayal of Angel, the well meaning (if not a little stalkerish) Fry’s Electronics employee who always just seems to be around when things are going down.
Visually Nope is nothing short of breath taking. The feature was filmed using IMAX cameras and if you have the ability to see it in IMAX for yourself, you should definitely do so. The outlandish western theme park, the run-down car dealership, and the environmental effects literally pop off the screen. This is a film that will take full advantage of your eyes and ears and soaking it all up in the best viewing experience possible is key to enjoying it the way it was made to be experienced. This is definitely a movie that benefits from being seen on the big screen and clearly would lose a lot in the translation to home viewing.
Unfortunately, this is a movie that will probably leave most reviewers scratching their heads on how to present a thorough review of the film and keeping things spoiler free at the same time. The previews and discussions around this film have been vague for a reason, and while the premise is known to most folks, it’s the presentation that is truly the star of this show. The film is chalk full of references and symbolism, some that will likely fly over the heads of some folks (pun intended), and also takes a satirical tone on the birth of Hollywood and what it has become. The characters have all suffered immense trauma, each presenting itself in differing ways. Whether it’s the loss of OJ and Em’s father, the traumatic events that occurred in Jupe’s past, or even the most recent break-up that Angel experienced with his girlfriend after landing a part on a pilot episode on the CW, each adds to the characters story and how it’s portrayed on the screen.
Nope is a movie that is hard to describe without giving the plot away. Even at its most basic level, it’s not simply another UFO movie. To believe that would be underestimating exactly what it brings to the table. However, because so much of it is based on the events surrounding the film, much like Jordan Peele’s other films, it’s hard to convince folks to go see it and keep it a surprise at the same time. It’s a film that you want others to experience, so you can hash it out together once it’s all said and done. Likely a movie that would need to be seen a few times, just to understand all little nuances that will likely be missed the first time around. Nope is like something you have never seen before, and at the end of the movie you might just start asking yourself why that is.
4 out of 5 stars