Nope NON-Spoiler Review
Writer/Director Jordan Peele returns with his third Horror movie, this time with a Science Fiction bend, in Nope.
This review will be more sparse than normal as Nope movie is heavy with spoilers, and even the most basic plot descriptions could easily contain spoilers. So, be forewarned this review will be more qualitative than quantitative this time around.
The Plot — Nope
O.J. Haywood, played by Daniel Kaluuya, runs his family’s horse ranch near Los Angeles. Haywood Ranch trains horses used in movies and T.V. shows, and has been in his family for six generations.
O.J.’s younger sister, Emerald, played by Keke Palmer, loves her older brother, but now lives in L.A. to pursue a career in front of the camera. After the recent passing of their Father, Otis, Senior; Emerald barely returns home to the ranch, leaving her brother all but alone to run the business.
Emerald has the charisma, but Otis, Jr. has the know-how. Both siblings need each other to run the ranch, and both miss Otis, Senior, played briefly by Keith David.
Just down the street, Ricky ‘Jupe’ Park runs a Western-themed amusement park. ‘Jupiter’s Claim’ brings people and more importantly, money, to the area, changing life in the isolated, rural valley.
One thing both Jupiter’s Claim and Haywood Ranch have in common: lost or spooked animals in recent months.
Just like with earthquakes and forest fires, animals seem to be aware of the danger BEFORE humans. And, as a result, the animals, mostly horses on the ranches, start to freak out. And, they start to disappear.
The Good — Nope
Since being on a seemingly permanent hiatus from his hit Comedy show ‘Key & Peele’, Jordan Peele started a new career as an Oscar-Winning Screenwriter and popular Horror Director.
Jordan Peele might be the perfect example of Comedy and Tragedy being closely related, but his ability to do BOTH is exceedingly rare. Nope marks Peele’s third Directorial outing; with all three flicks being Horror films.
In front of the camera, Key & Peele displayed a distinct Comedic style where their characters often played scenes straight, instead of for laughs; making the scenes more grounded in reality, but equally funny. The nuance between those two, and the mastery of having done BOTH, in front of and behind the camera.
Nope shows us Peele’s masterclass in balancing the two seemingly opposing forces perfectly. Peele knows exactly when to dial up one, then the other. Even the title of ‘Nope’ plays against the trope of people in Horror films walking TOWARDS the danger and getting killed. Peele builds the tension/suspense throughout the scene, then O.J. looks up at the danger and deadpans, ‘Nope!’
The Haywood Siblings
As much as Nope is about UFOs and Hollywood, it’s also about the relationship between Otis, Jr. and Emerald; and how that relationship between brothers and sisters change over time.
Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer have great sibling chemistry, showing off the complicated dynamics between brothers and sisters. O.J.’s more introverted personality and easily annoyed expression work perfectly with Emerald’s extroverted and devil-may-care attitude.
You can feel the history between the two, but you can also feel a bit of resentment mixed in with their love. Both care deeply for each other, and would do anything to save the other.
The grounding of their connection helps ground the rest of the rather superlative setting of the rest of the film. Most of us don’t work on Hollywood movie sets, and MOST of us haven’t seen UFO’s; but most people with a brother or sister can relate to this brother/sister dynamic.
Nope features a lot of spoilers. And, the reveals of said spoilers are expertly done to build tension throughout the film.
Done wrong, a reveal can induce sarcastic eye-rolls. Done right, the reveal of the many spoilers throughout the film builds tension, and keeps the audience guessing.
Some of the reveals are red herrings, some confirm what you’re expecting, and some blow you out of the water, or the sky, in this case. Yes, the knowing of how and when to reveal the spoilers can fall under my earlier ‘Jordan Peele’ entry. But, the storytelling of the reveals stands on it’s own as worthy of mention and praise.
The Review — Nope
#NopeMovie shows off Jordan Peele’s mastery of both Comedy AND Horror.
The old saying of ‘Comedy = Tragedy + Time’ holds true for the Horror in this UFO/Hollywood Behind-The-Scenes flick.
The death of Otis, Jr. and Emerald’s father still hurts freshly, even though it was six months prior. This falls under the Tragedy/Horror umbrella. The sibling drama playing out on the big screen is older and known; and plays out as Comedy.
The knowing of how and when to do each reveals Jordan Peele’s brilliance as a Director, and gives credit to the small, but talented cast. Casting two Oscar Nominees and an Emmy Winner as the three lead characters doesn’t hurt, either.
Computer Generated Images
Anyone who’s read a Dragon Movie Guy review knows how much I despise CGI, and how much I mockingly roll my eyes at the ‘we’ll fix it in post’ attitude of many filmmakers today. However, Nope’s CGI for the UFO is top notch. There was only one shot (of the UFO), about two thirds the way through that jumped out as fake/bad.
The UFO Computer Generated Images sell the believability of the film incredibly well, and proves that the exception can prove the rule of CGI in this case. The animal CGI on the other hand, leaves much to be desired. But, the animal CGI isn’t a huge part of the film, and isn’t central to the story as a whole.
Nope takes us on a journey that can only be successful when everything falls into place. If any part of the casting, editing, CGI, or most importantly, Directing fails; Nope would fall flat on its face. Instead, we get an even bigger and more complicated story than Jordan Peele’s Oscar-Nominated ‘Get Out’; that flows just as scary and just as funny.
Nope is absolutely worth watching, and uniquely worth watching in theaters to get the energy of the crowd around you. Nope is a fun ride, worth your time, and reconstructs the Horror genre in Jordan Peele’s image.
Go see this film!
Four stars out of Five