Directed by: Jordan Peele
Premise: The owners of a California horse ranch discover an extraterrestrial spacecraft hovering in the clouds. They try to photograph the ship but the extraterrestrials may not be friendly.
What Works: Nope is Jordan Peele’s third directorial feature and it is a much bigger film than either Get Out or Us. The production is broader and the film has impressive scale and ambition while also maintaining an interest in its characters. Nope is primarily set on a patch of land that is home to a horse ranch that provides animals for Hollywood as well as a Wild West themed amusement park. The setting is relevant in that Nope is about spectacle and in particular cinema and the way stories try to impose order on a chaotic universe and tend to paper over the violence of life. The film never becomes didactic but the theme is there and it weaves through everything in the picture. That’s one of the admirable qualities of Nope. It has a lot of different parts to it but everything is focused and held together by a compelling theme. That consistency is also true of the film’s humor. Before Get Out, Jordan Peele was best known for his work in comedy and Nope is funnier than either of Peele’s other movies but it’s a mordant sense of humor that is in tune with the rest of the picture. Nope stars Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer as siblings who run their family horse ranch. Kaluuya and Palmer are convincing as siblings and they each have a distinct personality and a particular reason for trying to capture the extraterrestrial craft on camera; their personalities and motives play out in the actions they take. Flying saucer films are not new but Nope has a unique and thoughtful take on the concept and the climax has some extraordinary visuals. The filmmakers effectively use the landscape and the score by Michael Abels is very effective especially in the climax.
What Doesn’t: Jordan Peele established himself as a filmmaker with Get Out and Us as well as a brief revival of The Twilight Zone. These projects have created an expectation that Peele’s work is going to have some sociological agenda but Nope does not have the political punch of Peele’s other movies. There is something going on underneath the action but Nope is more oriented toward popcorn than politics. It’s also more of a science fiction thriller than a horror picture. That’s all perfectly fine but Nope should be understood and appreciated for what it is rather than what viewers might expect.
Bottom Line: Nope is another successful film from Jordan Peele. It demonstrates a different tone and bigger scope than Peele’s other films but everything fits together and Nope puts a unique twist on a familiar genre.
Episode: #911 (July 31, 2022)