Flix at :48: “Nope” successfully combines science fiction, western and horror

As we’re only halfway through the year, I recently chatted with friends about the movies I’ve loved so far in 2022. My list was short and I was sad. So many films that hit theaters this year have been formulaic and predictable, as if no one is willing to take risks or go broke with other ideas. But I was happy to see the new release “Nope” and my list of favorites has grown a bit longer this year.

“Nope” tells the story of a shy horse breeder (Daniel Kaluuya, “Judas and the Black Messiah,” 2021) and his outgoing sister (Keke Palmer, “Lightyear,” 2022) who start raising flying saucers in the clouds above their dust see ranch in the remote hills of inland California. But instead of running for their lives or looking for an expert to help them, the siblings hire a tech guru to install surveillance cameras, record the flying saucer, and become famous by posting the recording online.

“Nope” is fun, exciting, and faintly surprising because its casual sense of mystery is consistently maintained and difficult to categorize. Following the growing trend of other films such as Nicolas Cage drama Pig (2021), Mexican documentary A Cop Movie (2021) on Netflix, St. Vincent rock & roll comedy The Nowhere Inn (2020). “The Power of the Dog” (2021), Nope, successfully mixes the genres of science fiction,
Westerns and Horrors.

Carefully placed moments of humor and an overall atmosphere of millennial apathy make this film feel like an updated version of Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) or the original War of the Worlds (1953). Although UFOs are the focus for much of Nope, the film is truly a salty and haunting portrayal of people’s constant addiction to new content, new stories, and new entertainment options.

People might think that all the different elements of “Nope” don’t go well together because parts are scary, parts exciting, and parts funny. It goes in many different directions. I don’t totally disagree, but this movie isn’t boring or ordinary. And that should be enough to lure people to the movies this summer.

Tongue-in-cheek references to classic western film tropes and a disturbing metaphor about animal control and exploitation make “Nope” an interesting ride. It’s not a blockbuster, but it’s still fun. And thanks to writer, director, and producer Jordan Peele (“Get Out,” 2017) for helping my summer movie feel less repetitive.

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