Writing a review for a movie like Nope is always weird. You’ve likely already decided if you want to see it and there’s a pretty good chance you’ve already read at least one clickbait hot take on social media that told you what the online discourse is going to be for the rest of the summer. That said, if you’re in need of a spoiler-free recommendation of Jordan Peele’s newest flick, you’ve come to the right place.
Nope is full of fun, freaky, thoughtful re-imaginings of the classic UFO movie and they are all way too cool to have them ruined before you have a chance to see it for yourself. It’s every bit the blockbuster Close Encounters of The Third Kind was back in the 70 and it’s loaded with creepy monsters, silly characters, and high-stakes action sequences- on horseback noless!
“…loaded with creepy monsters, silly characters, and high-stakes action sequences…”
Nope stars Daniel Kaluuya (Get Out) and Keke Palmer (Lightyear)- with a surprise appearance from Keith David (Tales From The Hood 2)- as OJ & EmHaywood, Hollywood horse trainers. They’re in danger of losing the family business after a bought of bad luck has forced them to sell more than half of their stable. And if that’s not bad enough, there’s a ding dang UFO abducting the few horses they have left! The Haywoods aren’t the type to sit back and watch their ranch disappear, but who do you call when you’ve got aliens? With no one else to turn to, and with the help of a kooky tech installer (Brandon Perea) and an eccentric cameraman (The Crow’s Michael Wincott) the Haywood’s set out to capture footage of the UFO and save their ranch. Sounds easy right? Nope.
I heard through the grapevine that a preview screening earlier in the week went poorly. No one booed but the general consensus from the critics in attendance was that this was a big misfire from Jordan Peele. I saw the same movie they did and I liked it a lot so surely it all came down to expectations. Walking in to Nope expecting the cultural discussion point of the year is the wrong way to watch this movie. It’s the wrong way to watch any movie really, but this one especially.
If you’re a fan of movies, I think you’re gonna have a great time. But if for you a new Jordan Peele movie is a philosophical summit where great minds come together to discuss the issues the day, you might want to just stay home at watch a Ted Talk or something. It’s an alien movie. Simple as that. Come expecting aliens. See aliens doing alien shit. Leave happy. That’s the punch card for Nope.
Personally, I think the movie does have rich themes that it’s exploring but not to the same degree as Get Out or Us. And frankly, not themes most people want to discuss. Sometimes I’m a little too vegan for my own good but I’m pretty sure Nope is (among other things) a movie about animal rights. It’s much more interested in discussing the lives of show ponies and trained chimps than little green men. And it’s not out of left field. It locks in perfectly with the rest of the story. How animals are bred out fo being animals for our own amusement is part of the puzzle that reveals a bigger picture about what Nope is, because it’s also obsessed with cinematography and the entertainment industry as a whole.
Steven Yeun plays a particularly interesting character who owns a frontier theme park that tries to capitalize on the sudden appearance of the “Unidentified Aerial Phenomena”. Side note: UFO sounds way cooler than UAP and we should have never changed it. Yeun’s Ricky “Jupe” Park is a bit of a shady showman and a somewhat infamous child actor. As a young boy, Ricky was cast in a television show that ended in tragedy after an animal attacked several of the cast. The incident casts a shadow as large as a 1000-yard flying saucer over the story and as we return to it over and over, covering the event from every angle, the picture slowly comes into focus and we see just what connection Peele is making between the creatures we control and the creatures that terrorize us.
It’s no coincidence that the Haywood family trains Hollywood horses either. All the key players in Nope have experience working with trained but unpredictable animals and that’s exactly what gives them a leg up in getting this alien thing to “perform”. The metaphor gets a little messy beyond that but Peele also has come clever use for the standard tropes of an alien movie.
UFOs have been knocking out power in movies for decades but when Peele’s alien turns the Haywood ranch into his own personal hunting ground the group is suddenly shot back to a primal place where they have to roll up their sleeves and fight for survival. Without electricity, they have no way of capturing a video of the UFO and no one to call for help. Oddly, no one thinks to use guns. This is set in gun country after all, but hey, their limited resources make for real fun and ingenious improvisation.
Nope may not be as well thought out as Get Out or as scary as Us but it’s a super fun summer movie. If you just want to have a good time and eat popcorn with a grin on your face, you won’t do much better this weekend at the movie theatre. And without spoiling anything, Peele has presented one of the most interesting alien theories I’ve ever heard. Get your tin foil hats ready, alien fans 👽
“Nope may not be as well thought out as Get Out or as scary as Us but it’s a super fun summer movie.”
There is so much more that makes Nope such an interesting movie but I can’t talk about it here. It’s not the right place and it’s not the right time. In a few days we’ll be releasing a spoiler-free review of Nope on the Nightmare on Film Street podcast, but we’ll also be recording a spoiler-filled episode for the Fiend Club which we will be able to find HERE. We’re going to be discussing every little detail about this alien-infested action-horror spectacle and I can’t wait to really dig into it. In the meantime, you can always hit up up in the NOFS Discord or on Twitter if you need someone to talk to about Nope. We’d love to hear what you thought!
Nope may not be as well thought out as Get Out or as scary as Us but it’s a super fun summer movie. If you just want to have a good time and eat popcorn with a grin on your face, you won’t do much better this weekend at the movie theatre. And without spoiling anything, Peele has presented one of the most interesting alien theories I've ever heard. Get your tin foil hats ready, alien fans 👽
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