WARNING! This post contains spoilers!
I, along with the rest of the world, have been anxiously awaiting Jordan Peele’s third feature film. Nope (2022) was released in July of this year and it hits differently than Peele’s first two films. But not in a bad way. I left the theater with renewed energy and a sense of a broadening horizon. I’ve been waiting to write this review because I was still processing the film. Not in a scratching my head way, more in a letting it sink in way.
Nope stars Daniel Kaluuya, Keke Palmer, and Brandon Perea. All three of whom deliver incredible and dynamic performances. I felt like Nope was mainly a comedy and science fiction film with some horror elements to it. Palmer was amazing, as expected, and perfectly balanced out the character of her brother and his low key energy. Perea played his role perfectly and deserves all of the attention he is getting.
Visually, Nope is stunning. From the cinematography, the color story, the set design to the creature. The twist wasn’t life changing, but it was a really cool idea. I loved how everyone entered the theater expecting a horrifying alien thriller and left with an allegory for the media industry (and maybe a reminder to treat animals with respect!)
Honestly, I am surprised to see so many bad reviews on IMDB (as of now) for this film. Though it does have significantly better ratings on Rotten Tomatoes. Even if it hits differently than some of Peele’s other films, I certainly wouldn’t call Nope a failure by any means. My main critique is that the very graphic Gordy scene was too much for me. It was incredibly uncomfortable to watch and I don’t think it fit super well with the rest of the film in terms of tone. That being said, it does illustrate a very vivid and traumatic childhood memory that Steven Yeun’s character experiences. The real trauma that Parks and the Haywood siblings have endured is very palpable in this film.
If you look deeper into the themes that Peele is exploring here you realize there is a lot below the surface, especially when you focus on the spectacle of it all. I laughed out loud when the TMZ reporter showed up, because it felt so realistic. The fact that the Haywood siblings’ ranch is being terrorized by a massive alienoid creature and they are more worried about exploiting it than dying…it’s an allegory for media in general. Something that’s always been there over the years but evolves. The need to exploit and capture. Whether that’s shock value in a film to sell tickets, or tabloids reporting on the latest scandal. TMZ exists for a reason. And Nope really plays with that mentality, and turns it into something funny and relatable.
Overall Nope is grand and sprawling. It’s a comedy, an alien encounter, a film about trauma and family and media and its sometimes terrifying…all at the same time. It’s a wild ride that was fun to watch play out. I would not hesitate to watch this film again. I think it was fantastic. There is nothing wrong with a fun summer blockbuster, especially when it feels like the world is crumbling around us.