I had been excited to see Jordan Peele’s Nope ever since the first trailer.
It is one of my all time favourite trailers, since it made me want to watch the movie while revealing very little about its plot.
Even though I think the second trailer showed a bit much, I was still excited for it, especially since it’s a Jordan Peele film.
He is certainly one of the most inventive directors working today when it comes to story ideas and social commentary.
I loved his first film Get Out and, while I did enjoy his second film Us, the third act broke my suspension of disbelief.
So, going into Nope, I was hoping for an experience more akin to Get Out than Us.
My wish was granted, since my time with Nope was the exact opposite of Us.
Driving home from watching Us at the movies, I kept realizing a bunch of problems and things that did not make sense when I was driving home.
But for Nope, when I was driving home, I realized a lot more things I loved about it.
There is so much I want to talk about with this movie but a lot of it is spoilers, so I will keep that part of the review at the bottom, while this section remains spoiler free, apart from the premise.
Nope stars Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer as siblings, OJ and Emerald Haywood, the descendants of the black man who starred riding a horse in the very first assembly of photographs used to create a motion picture.
Now owning a ranch, OJ and Emerald begin to realize it is a hot spot of potential extraterrestrial activity that is targeting their horses.
The two seek to obtain proof of the aliens now haunting their land, what they call “the opera shot”, to recieve fame and fortune from the spectacle.
Nope is a film about the dangers of such endeavors with not only OJ and Emerald being at risk but also the characters of theme park owner Ricky “Jupe” Park (Stephen Yeun), tech assistant Angel Torres (Brandon Perea) and cinematographer Antlers Holst (Michael Wincott), as they also seek their own forms of spectacle.
Such spectacle is not the only focus, however, because Nope also discusses exploitation, primarily that of tragedies and animals, and I think it does this exceedingly well.
Some have argued that a certain plotline does not work cohesively with the main story of the movie.
This is a criticism I can understand because the farthest this plotline goes in connecting to the actual story is providing an understanding of Jupe’s motivations and actions.
However, when you look at the themes of exploitation and the danger of fame seeking spectacle, this plot line serves as a perfect parallel to the events of the main story; a story which is both funny and terrifying.
The terror, especially, stands out, with there being three specific scenes that had me constantly whispering “Nope!” to myself while watching.
One of these horrifying scenes ties into the spin Peele pulls with the alien invasion storyline, which is easily the most unique take on aliens I have seen put to film in a long time.
It was a clear step up from Us, where the explanation for what was going on raised many plot holes for me.
As for my criticisms of the movie, I do feel like some of the characters were a bit underutilized to the point that their actions and intent needed to be explained a little better.
This was particularly the case for Antlers Holst’s character, since something he does in the third act had me scratching my head a bit.
I do think this action works with the film’s themes, and Antler’s dialogue does seem to explain it, but I still needed a little more explanation about what drove him to come to the mindset which caused him to make such a choice.
This was only a minor issue though.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed Nope.
It is a unique take on the alien invasion movie, is terrifying at times and, like most of Peele’s films, has compelling themes.
I would say it is currently my second favourite Jordan Peele film, right behind Get Out.
Now for the part of the review where I can speak freely about spoilers because, oh, boy, do I have things to say.
For starters, I absolutely loved the twist that the UFO was actually the alien.
It actually redeemed a prior part of the movie for me, which was the aliens in the barn scene.
This scene was so unnerving, at first.
I remember seeing the alien stand up in the theatre, and then seeing another one pop out, causing me to constantly whisper “Nope!” to myself
Then, it was revealed to be a fake out, with Jupe’s kids playing a prank on OJ and I felt letdown.
The scene was so tense and then it lost steam instantly with that reveal.
This is why the reveal of the UFO being the alien saved this scene for me.
Had the film actually been about little green men, then it would have been just another alien invasion movie.
The actual reveal brought a unique spin that I have not seen before in an alien movie, and quite a horrifying spin at that.
Watching Jupe, his entire family, and their audience get sucked up into the alien, called Jean Jacket, to be eaten alive was horrifying.
The slow realization that they were all being sucked into a claustrophobic digestive track had me wincing.
What makes the whole thing even more tragic is how it ties in perfectly with Jupe’s past.
The Gordy attack (based off the very real and horrifying attack from the monkey Travis) plays out as a perfect parallel to Jean Jacket’s massacre.
Gordy, a wild animal, was exploited on the set of Gordy’s Home, leading to him mauling the stars and traumatising Jupe.
Then, decades later, Jupe repeats the same cycle, attempting to exploit Jean Jacket, but it gets him, his family, and dozens of innocent spectators violently killed.
As for Jean Jacket, I like how Peele leaves so much about it unexplained, since it allows the audience to come to their own conclusions.
In fact, I don’t think Jean Jacket is even an alien.
I think it’s just a species of animal that evolved like a chameleon to avoid detection so it can stalk its prey.
Every real UFO sighting is just another one of its species on the prowl, mistaken for flying saucers.
There being more Jean Jackets out there also makes for quite the horrifying thought, as you have to wonder how many missing people have been killed by them?
If one were to see what they thought was a UFO, then they would naturally try to get a good look at it, which would then be seen as a sign of aggression, causing them to be eaten.
That’s why Jupe and the spectators were eaten and it’s probably why the two missing hikers went missing before the movie started as well, with their belongings then being shot down onto the Haywood ranch by Jean Jacket, resulting in the Haywood siblings’ father’s death.
That last detail is one Peele left evidence for throughout for the audience to connect the dots, rather than outright confirming it.
It was details like this I picked up on during my drive home from seeing Nope in theatres and I am sure that there will be more hidden details to find on subsequent watches.