Easily my favorite film of the year Jordan Peele’s latest is a dense and layers take on spectacle.
Few films have stuck with me this year like the latest by Jordan Peele, the dense exploration of spectacle Nope. The film recently hit 4K UHD and getting to see it again sealed the deal for the film being my favorite of the year, so far. The film centers on a pair of siblings OJ (Daniel Kaluuya) and Emerald (Keke Palmer), who run a horse ranch in Los Angeles that specializes in providing and training animals for television and film. Business isn’t quite what it used to be after the death of their father and OJ has been selling his horses to a local amusement park run by ex sitcom child star Jupe (Steven Yuen). One night after a chance encounter in their pasture with a mysterious object that’s been feeding on their horses, OJ and Em hatch a plan to get the phenomena on film to solve their financial problems.
What we soon discover is that the UFO or UAP — is actually a giant shape shifting surrealist apex predator. This has OJ applying his animal wrangling skills to try and capture the ultimate footage of the surreal otherworldly creature — they are calling the “Oprah Shot”. The film is both this exploration of the unknown, paired with the story of the siblings both dealing with the grief and loss of their father. It’s how Peele layers these stories with a dense mythology and metaphoric takes that makes Nope a third genre masterpiece for the writer/director who provides the kind of explorations in genre that are few and very far between. There’s a nearly methodical approach to how he makes these stories that are imbued with countless layers of subtext and interpretations that you can just read over and over.
Nope is one of those films that could easily be described in one breath as a fun sci-fi adventure, but also a dense look at spectacle and the price of exploitation. I mean from the religious subtext to the idea that UFOs have simply been cryptids and living with us all along, there is just so much here to unpack and examine that Peele has put on the screen. There’s easily a dozen rabbit holes this film has inspired that had me reexamining the film and its themes yet over and over again. That’s not an easy feat for any filmmaker to pull off, but this film is just ripe with so much to say volumes could be written about what Peele has conjured here on celluloid. To amply this the narrative even further, its populated by some of the most nuanced and entertaining characters I’ve witnessed all year.
The film is presented here on both a Blu-ray and 4K UHD. The big sell here for fans is the 4K presentation has the IMAX enhanced version. This has the film changing aspect ratios in specific scenes to open up the scope of the vision and given the beast, IMAX is the only way to go. That coupled with a very aggressive Atmos track and a 70mm source this has the makings of one of my favorite new release discs this year presentation-wise. I caught the film in laser IMAX and seeing this properly projected on a big screen is the closest I feel like I am ever going to get at replicating that experience at home. The picture here is near flawless and the HDR is used to perfectly add some clarity to the night time scenes that dominate the first two acts of the film.
Along with the film, we also get an hour of doc, that digs pretty deep into the making of with unfettered access to cast and crew. I found it engaging as well as informative, since it dodges the EPK vibe by focusing on the creative process and showing Peele’s quest for truth on screen. My only gripe would be the deleted scenes here that appear to be missing quite a few bits that are in the trailer, in particular the scene that had the man stalking Mary Jo Elliott dispatching Gordy. I mean we see the shot, but there was a whole rumored subplot there that’s missing about an older man stalking the young girl. One bit I did appreciate is the raw Gordy attack footage showcasing Terry Notary’s motion capture performance pre-CGI.
For fans of Peele this is a must. If you have the setup, the 4K UHD IMAX presentation is worth the price alone. Would I have loved a director’s commentary, definitely! Would I have loved those deleted scenes, definitely! While I appreciate the package, I do think it falls slightly short of its Collector’s Edition branding it has along with a very weird double branding of the 4K UHD logo that is printed below the 4K UHD logo on the disc case. If you dug Nope or have yet to see it this is the way to experience it hands down. Not digitally streaming, but loud and in IMAX as it was shot and intended. Nope in that sense is a spectacle with in itself is a profound ironic meta statement on the film itself.