The Reel Review
When a UFO starts terrorizing a horse ranch in the remote California desert, brother/sister duo OJ and Emerald (Daniel Kaluuya and Keke Palmer), the descendants of Hollywood’s first Black stuntman, set out to document it on camera, in this sci-fi/horror from writer/director Jordan Peele (Get Out, Us).
At its heart, Nope is about people’s obsession with spectacle, even when it puts their own lives in danger. And in typical Peele fashion, his thriller is loaded with humor, symbolism and layered messages about race and celebrity worship, as well as Easter eggs for those paying close attention to the action. The best part of Nope, however, is its sound and over the top visuals. From eerie stillness to the thunderous UFO, if you see Nope it should be in as large of a theater with as nice a sound system as possible to be fully appreciated.
Oscar-winner Kaluuya (Judas and the Black Messiah) and Palmer make the most of their thinly drawn characters, with a hilariously scene stealing Brandon Parea (The OA) as the UFO-obsessed, Fry’s Electronics security camera installer who just can’t stay away. Steven Yeun (The Walking Dead) plays a former child actor who has turned a gruesome, childhood on-set tragedy into a career running a tourist trap on a neighboring ranch, and there are fun cameo appearances from 1980s Knots Landing star Donna Mills and Euphoria’s Barbie Ferreira.
Peele gives moviegoers lots of reasons to see this film. But frustratingly, all the cool visuals and the hodgepodge of quirky, fascinating ideas are diminished by what feels more like a rough outline of a movie instead of an actual screenplay. It just feels incomplete. Despite being so sloppy, Nope, however, is still an interesting take on the UFO mythos and is entertaining in its own right for fans of the genre. It’s just more of an improved M. Night Shyamalan than it is Steven Spielberg.
• Jordan Peele says movies that inspired his screenplay for Nope were Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Signs, The Wizard of Oz, and King Kong.
• Daniel Kaluuya, who starred in Get Out, which won Peele a screenwriting Oscar, signed onto the lead role in Nope after Jesse Plemons (The Power of the Dog) turned it down due to scheduling conflicts with the Western crime drama Killers of the Flower Moon, which was filming at the same time.
• After 36 years in business, California-based Fry’s Electronics went out of business in February 2021, a victim of changing retail shopping habits and the brutal COVID-19 pandemic.