A Fun If Not Disjointed Ride through the California Desert
Score 8/10 - Recommended
Posted by Anthony DeRouen | September 4th, 2022
Jordan Peele’s Nope borrows heavily from Close Encounters From the Third Kind, Lawrence of Arabia, and various westerns to create a desert ranch under siege by aliens. If not for Hoyte Van Hoytema’s amazing cinematography this film might be considered dull. Hoyte Van Hoytema turns this film into a true cinematic experience, and I’ll tell you why.
The decision to break the film up into definitive pieces, like chapters in a book, eliminates any chance of continuity and sustained tension. It’s a red flag to the audience that the core narrative isn’t strong enough to carry the film’s lengthy two hour run time. So maybe it’s a blessing in disguise we are given plenty of filler material before the finale, otherwise this film is a snoozer. Steven Yuen is a gifted actor given little to do here, but his presence is enough to warrant our attention. He’s earned that respect. In fact his character is the only one in Nope that is truly likable.
In truth, Daniel Kaluuya is also a gifted actor, but Jordan Peele paints his character as quiet, aloof and generally uninterested in events taking place. If your main protagonist is portrayed this way it’s difficult to hook in and engage the audience. His younger sister, played by Keke Palmer, is loud and spastic, as if every diaoulge for her character in the script ended in an exclamation point. After a while we effectively tune her out.
The drawbacks in Nope do not outweigh the positives, however. The introduction of the alien species felt both nostalgic and original. There’s plenty of engaging twists to be found while we gradually learn who the alien visitor really is. The final iteration was not what I was expecting, and provided a satisfying journey throughout. This is not your typical alien invasion. The stunning CGI married with Hoyte Van Hoytema’s camera work was worth the price of admission on its own.
The introduction of the alien species felt both nostalgic and original.
Seeing a Fry’s Electronics building was fun, and a little sad. During the scenes inside the store the backdrop behind the characters was heavily blurred, which presented an odd, surreal look. It took me a moment to realize Fry’s Electronics closed its operations in 2020, but with help from Randy Fry (former owner of the franchise) they managed to put one back together. Fry’s Electronics was a booming business before Internet shopping took over. During the mid-2000’s stores began to close as management was either too slow or unwilling to adapt to the times.
The Coronavirus pandemic was the final nail in its coffin. Although Fry’s will never command the same level of nostalgia as Blockbuster Video (due in part to Best Buy’s continued presence) the store does bring back memories for this old techie.
So, should you go see Nope in theaters? Short answer: yes. It was filmed on IMAX for a good portion, and takes full advantage of Hoyte Van Hoytema’s skillful eye for scenery and grandiose. Jordan Peele is a proven artist of horror, and he largely delivers in Nope. If money is an issue, go for a Tuesday discount day and you won’t be disappointed. For further reading about Hoyte Van Hoytema’s efforts in Nope check out this interview here.