Film review: Jordan Peele’s Nope makes you think again

THEO ALDER, Staff Writer

How far are you willing to go to capture a spectacle? Jordan Peele’s summer alien blockbuster “Nope” attempts to answer this question. The film follows a pair of siblings, OJ (Daniel Kaluuya from “Get Out” [2017] and “Black Panther” [2018]) and Emerald (Keke Palmer from “Jump In” [2007] and “Alice” [2022]), trying to keep their father’s business alive after his passing. The business they have is a horse wrangling business for films and TV. OJ starts selling horses to keep his family business afloat to a nerby small theme park that is run by Jupe (Steven Yuen from “The Walking Dead” [2010] and “Minair” [2020]). Soon, the two siblings happen upon a creature not of planet earth (n.o.p.e). They decide if they can capture Jean Jacket – the name they give the alien – on film, that will solve all of their problems of money and their failing business while giving them fame.

While they try to gather camera supplies and other equipment, Jupe is finding his own way to capitalize on the spectacle. Jupe has been conditioning this wild creature in the sky to appear at his shows every week in exchange for a meal. An original spin on the horror and science fiction genre, Peele also adds elements of a western genre. Peele also pays tribute to many movies that influenced this film, with references to “Close Encounters of the Third Kind” (1977) and many others.

This film was shot with IMAX Film Cameras, meaning that they had to be more deliberate with shot choices because a roll of film within an IMAX camera can get expensive. Cinematographer Hoyte Van Hoytema, who has worked on “Interstellar” (2014), “Her” (2013), “Dunkirk” (2017) and others, was the right director of photography because he has worked extensively with film on many other projects. Although Hoytema is an expert in working with film, he also worked closely with the special effects team to create the night scenes within this film were actually shot during the day, because a film camera does not have the dynamic range to capture both the action in the dark and bright stars in the sky. To combat these issues, in post production they simply color corrected the scenes, then added lights to the house at night. This method has been used in “Mad Max: Fury Road” (2015) as well. Hoytema was able to create a cinematic world through framing. The cinematography is never distracting; it creates the right atmosphere for this film.

We can’t forget to mention the real heroes behind the scenes, the special effects and visual effects team. The team came together to create an alien that we as an audience had never seen before, instead of a metal ship housing aliens. The alien was the ship – completely organic (as we go inside the alien in a couple scenes). The model for the alien was actually based on jellyfishl; you can see a bit of their resemblance throughout the film. The film’s effects always looked real in the environment they were set in. Obviously, the chimpanzee that was used for the flashback looked a little fake, but other than that, everything was as it needed to be believable for the viewer.

The music for this film was incredible – it pushes you into the experience. The soundtrack gives another level to the film by adding sound effects to the music. But on to discuss the star of it all, Jordan Peele. In this film, Peele proves himself as a director and storyteller. He created a story into a world of spectacle.

“Nope” is also grounded in reality, following the incident in 2009 with Travis the Chimpanzee. That real life tragedy’s influence can be seen within the film’s major flashback scene. This movie is clearly for people who love filmmaking, because of the literal plot of them being connected to Hollywood through their business, and they assemble a film crew to capture the creature on film.

But what is a great actor without great direction? Not only did Peele write this film, but he also directed this project, truly making it his own. Peele steps up to the plate by directing the two lead actors, Kaluuya and Palmer. The acting within this film creates a believable story that the audience can get fully involved in. Peele plays with themes of chasing fame, taming wild animals and much more within the world of “Nope.” As Peele continues through his career, the scale of his films increase as he pushes boundaries. And as long as people continue to support creative, interesting and original movies, more films like “Nope” will continue to be created.

If you want to experience a spectacle, go see “Nope.”