Nope review: Jordan Peele’s sci-fi blockbuster

A gender-bending sci-fi blockbuster, director Jordan Peele’s third feature film, best-known for ‘Us’ and ‘Get Out’, ‘Nope’ masterfully engages horror, comedy and even western, questioning how little power we have and the way we deal with the vile and unpredictable. A creativity bank, where some ideas seemed to get out of hand. 

 “I will pelt you with filth, I will treat you with contempt and make you a spectacle.”

Prophet Nahum

When  Otis “OJ” Haywood (Daniel Kaluuya) and his sister Emerald Haywood (Keke Palmer), heirs of the first man to appear on film, “since the moment pictures could move, we had skin in the game”, and Hollywood horses-trainers, are faced with tragic and strange events, from the death of their father, Otis Sr. (Keith David), to strange-looking clouds, their destiny decides to pivot and a rare ‘object’ could be their chance to strive for fame, and their ticket to disastrous consequences.

What’s A Bad Miracle? They Got A Word For That?”

OJ Haywood

Accompanied by tech salesman and extraterrestrial enthusiast Angel Torres (Brandon Perea)  and with manual cinematographer Antlers Holst (Michael Wincott) the group sets a surveillance camera system to record the sky’s unusual movements. However, filming the abnormal and deadly discovered creature, arised through direct gazes,  proves to be a very dangerous and ominous task.

While Peele’s other moving pictures, especially his directorial debut ‘Get Out’, strive for more metaphorical, and, perhaps, meaningful messages, leaving the viewer to reflect for hours after watching, this film bets on a more direct and concise approach, making the experience more about viewing than reflecting, with touches of Jordan’s well-known easter eggs.

Through many references and unsaid messages, the movie doesn’t fail to insert nostalgia and remind us of the classics, especially those related to the grand master Steven Spielberg. Moreover, it is important to analyze the goal of said story, possibly attempting to settle as sci-fi main media finest, by distancing from the director’s regular approach, and creating a palatable and innovative story, available to all sorts of audience.

Reimagining the usual UFO stories, the images and, especially, the sound are masterfully manipulated. The help cries and severely disturbing noise from the creature don’t fail to convey the horror experience, as the imagery of the deep and unsettling skies are well positioned to express the thriller aura. The different perspectives, from the surveillance cameras and the characters’ perspectives, put the viewer in a position where he’s also hostage of the terrifying monster.

Nevertheless, the insightful premise, mostly anticipated by the bloody 90’s chimpanzee event with “Jupe” Park (Steven Yeun) as the only survivor, that sets the beginning of the picture, sadly falls flat. The lack of development of certain ideas and concepts, majorly in regards to the message it’s trying to transmit – is it about fame? About the unknown? We might never know – take away some of the film’s potential to breakthrough, for striking the entertainment and reflection status, and transform it into just a rather amusing, ‘thrillery’ and often funny experience.

Furthermore, given the specialty of Jordan in the field, the poor exploitation of contemplation-worthy content may disappoint his usual viewers, since the essence seems more like a pool of ideas.

On the subject of actors,  the movie proved again the Peele-Kaluuya duo works greatly. Though not his best performance, Daniel’s acting as OJ addresses perfectly the sensible and sensitive aspects of the horse trainer and  Keke’s comedic-relief and extroverted character personality complements extremely well the Haywood siblings dynamic. Another happy surprise is Steven Yeun’s ability in developing the traumatized yet fame-motivated “Jupe”, even with little-screen time he made us truly comprehend the role.

Different from the director’s other works but still with great creative assets, “Nope” is a rather entertaining motion picture. Perfect for a night with friends!

Just remember, don’t look above…


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