Nope ★★★★½

Did a similar thing with this that Samm and I did with Us when it came out. That one we saw in theaters, took a 20 minute break to talk about it in the lobby, and then went back in and saw it a second time immediately. For this one, we watched it last night, spent a while talking about it, and then watched it a second time this morning.

I’m finding this to be the ideal way to watch Jordan Peele movies, because it allows for two very different experiences. The excitement of watching it all unfold the first time, seeing it pieced together in the moment with all of the thrills and surprises so fresh and new. Then we can break it down, share our thoughts and our questions, what we loved the most and what we maybe weren’t sure about it. The second time still maintains so much of those thrills, but we also get to focus more on the details of how Peele lays everything out, methodically planting seeds and watching them pay off, developing the story, themes and characters scene by scene. Lots of ideas here and I think mostly all of them really land.

Nope is without question his biggest film so far in terms of scale and spectacle. And what spectacle! Despite the inventive move to keep things contained to this tiny dried-out area in the middle of nowhere, with a small group of characters, there is such massive scale to some of the set-pieces here, and truly magnificent visual effects. Several shots had my jaw practically on the floor, just in awe of how gorgeous and terrifying they looked.

I don’t know if we’ve ever seen this sort of a take on an alien picture before. One where it’s not necessarily a god-like invader, it’s not a savior, nor is it quite a misunderstood outsider who is abused and needs rescuing. It’s an animal like any other, and we see how it’s misunderstood and mistreated the way so many other animals are, warped in an attempt to be tamed when some animals aren’t meant to be tamed. The way Peele folds this in with the backstories on Gordy and the use of horses in the film and television industry is incredibly well-done.

On top of that, as always he’s done a tremendous job of crafting his characters and casting them to perfection. I’m not one hundred percent sure Brandon Perea’s Angel and (especially) Michael Wincott’s Antlers really worked for me. They felt a little bit like add-ons that weren’t as fully-formed as the other characters. But that trio of OJ, Emerald and Jupe are so so great it makes it easy to look past those smaller complaints.

Kaluuya and Palmer have incredible sibling chemistry, you fully buy them as brother and sister and invest in that relationship and Steven Yeun has this amazing knack for playing these characters who are genial on the surface but have that eerie undercurrent of something sinister lurking within. So mysterious, making you lean in for his every word and expression.

The film retains Peele’s ability to pay tribute to his influences while also creating something so distinctly his own. There’s nothing quite like watching a Jordan Peele movie, and that comes with such a specific sensation in the experience and so much excitement. And he’s three for three in my books.

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