Chris Kavan's Movie Review of Nope

Rating of


An Atypical Spectacle
Chris Kavan - wrote on 07/29/22

If nothing else, Jordon Peele is a man not afraid to take chances. Get Out and Us are both films that are made even better by reflecting a lens on modern society. Nope is that same - even if it is a more divisive film - and one that lives up to Peele's idea of spectacle.

The spectacle starts off with a bang - a bloody chimp and a gruesome and seemingly random death - but both prove to be part of a much larger story ahead. That story is anchored by Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer, siblings OJ and Emerald who, following that sudden death of their own father, are now the owners of Haywood Hollywood Horses with a lineage that can be traced back to the first true motion picture of a black man riding a horse. But this heritage can only get them so far, and their black-owned ranch is suffering. So much so that OJ has been selling many of his horses to a local western-themed park Jupiter's Claim owned by former child actor Ricky 'Jupe' Park (Steven Yuen). Ricky's biggest claim to fame seems to be surviving a gristly attack on the set of "Gordy's Home" where the chimp on set was set off and killed and/or maimed several of the actors. He even has a secret room with mementos set up like trophies and seems to wistfully recall the SNL episode that referenced the attack.

It isn't long before the Haywoods realize there is something out there - and this something seems to attracted to the horses. Convinced they can get concrete footage of this alien, they go about setting up an elaborate system with some tech help from big-box support Angel Torres (Brandon Perea) and want nothing more than to make a mint with the perfect shot. Even though they have footage of a cloud that never moves and some fleeing images, it's not enough - not even when it becomes apparent that Jupe is also trying to capitalize on the phenomena - and soon the other-worldly creature turns its attention to something besides horses. Unsettled but still seeking their ultimate shot, the trio call up veteran documentarian Antlers Holst (Michael Wincott) to help finally capture the moment they need. This leads to an epic showdown.

Nope is a film about spectacle for sure - when the characters learn that the creature seems to thrive on beings looked at, they turn away - but we, as an audience, keep on watching. And Nope perfectly encapsulates our current unbridled joy of watching screens - Tik Tok, Twitch, Fox News, reality TV, social media in general - we can't look away, even if it hurts us. On the other hand, Nope is also about exploitation - the "Gordy's Home" segment is by far the most disturbing aspects and it goes to show this is what happens when you take advantage of animals and young actors alike. And Jupe, who you would have think learned a valuable lesson, instead amps up the exploitation to the point it endangers not just himself - but those around him. The Haywoods, likewise, only see dollar signs in a dangerous situation and if the end is any indication, will also probably certainly attain their goal. Even the great, gruff Holst - equal parts Quint from Jaws and Werner Herzog, is undone by aiming to get the ultimate "impossible" shot.

As I said, Get Out and Us reveal aspects about life that some may not want to admit are there - but they certainly exist, no matter how hard you wish to ignore them. Nope works in much the same way, through a lens of an alien encounter story - a spectacle if you will - and one that should still make you think, even if it divides audiences along the way.

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