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‘Nope’ brings another world

There perhaps hasn’t been a more divisive film director over the past few years than American filmmaker Jordan Peele. Peele has managed to carve out a small army of people who absolutely adore his work and the ‘brave’ decisions that he makes as he mixes genre filmmaking with political commentary. But at the same time most serious fans of the horror genre, the genre in which Peele has set most of his films to date, don’t feel the same way. In fact some have been pretty critical, especially with his last film ‘Us’ , which admittedly seemed to be a mess from start to finish.

World-Entertainment
By David Griffiths

Saturday 20 August 2022, 12:58PM


Keke Palmer and Daniel Kaluuya in Nope (2022). Image: IMDB

Keke Palmer and Daniel Kaluuya in Nope (2022). Image: IMDB

Those same horror films also seem to have raised reservations about his critically acclaimed Get Out, with many saying the film managed to trip itself up with its political message and ultimately it was poorly executed.

Now comes Nope, a film which seems to work for at least the first three-quarters with a science fiction plot that will draw in most of its audience, but then the last quarter of the film is a complete letdown as the story falls away and becomes a cliché ‒ and to top it off there is a ‘creature’ that looks like it was made out of the leftover materials from a child’s Art & Craft box. It’s a shame because Nope had the basis to be a creative and interesting supernatural flick… right up until that point.

The film itself centres around the brother and sister duo of OJ (Daniel Kaluuya – Black Panther) and Emerald Haywood (Keke Palmer – Hustlers) who are left to run their father’s Hollywood horse ranch after his sad demise in a supposed ‘one-off’ tragic event.

The report says that he was killed by items falling from a plane but OJ is not convinced, and while he is in the middle of considering selling the ranch to former child actor and now Western theme park owner, Ricky ‘Jupe’ Park (Steven Yuen – The Walking Dead), he is also watching the skies for any other paranormal events.

Soon those other events begin to happen and this time Emerald experiences them as well. Together they realise they can save the ranch if they can just capture the phenomenon on camera and capture what they call an ‘Oprah shot’. This then brings the UFO-obsessed, tech store worker Angel (Brandon Perea – The OA) who just won’t take no for an answer into the scheme.

The first three quarters of Nope work exceptionally well. For once Jordan Peele has created a movie that will draw its audience into the universe that he has created. They will find themselves caring about the characters at hand and will be curious to find out what was behind the events that were plaguing them. For a while they will also find themselves congratulating Peele for making the wise decision of making Angel an interesting character rather than going for the traditional Hollywood trope of presenting him to the audience as an unrealistic buffoon just there for cheap laughs.

Likewise, the secondary storyline of Jupe being a child actor who had survived a wild animal attack on set was creative while hammering home Peele’s subtext of Hollywood greed and that you can’t ever tame a wild beast and a brief look. Sadly though there are times that it feels like Peele forgets about the point and the subtext just slowly falls away.

MACNELS SHIPPING PHUKET

But while the first three-quarters of the film holds the audience’s interest, seasoned cinema fans will find that the last quarter seems to completely unravel. Peele’s subtext and secondary storyline just completely disappears, and what should have been a huge action set-piece that made this film memorable was extremely lame while the ‘creature’ reveal was probably one of the biggest disappointments that you will experience in cinema this year. When you consider how amazing the first part of this film was it becomes a real shame that the film just seemed to peter out towards the end.

The big saving grace from this film though is the performance of Keke Palmer. Palmer steals the show with her performance and there are times during the film where the focus is on OJ but you’ll find yourself wishing you could see what Emerald is doing. That is through no fault of Kaluuya because it is easy to see that Peele’s screenplay called for him to play OJ as a deadpan character, he just happens to be playing alongside an actress that puts in an amazing performance and makes the film her own.

There is little doubt that most people will enjoy Nope a lot more than they did Get Out and Us. This time the basis was really there for a film that seemed to be a cross between The X-Files and Signs and if the last act had been as good as the rest of the film then this could easily have been one of the best films of the year. Instead, Nope ends up being an okay film, but don’t expect it to reach the great heights that many cinema fans will expect it to.

Nope is currently screening in cinemas in Phuket and is rated ‘15’.

3/5 Stars


David Griffiths has been working as a film and music reviewer for over 20 years. That time has seen him work in radio, television and in print. You can follow him at www.facebook.com/subcultureentertainmentaus 

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