Nope Is Jordan Peele In Blockbuster Mode, And That Rules

Warning: this article contains spoilers for "Nope."

"I will cast abominable filth upon you, make you vile, And make you a spectacle" – Nahum 3:6

This bible verse is the opening text that greets viewers of "Nope," the latest from writer/director Jordan Peele. Spectacle is the keyword to keep in mind from this opening text that helps set the tone for the remaining 2 hours and ten minutes of the film. Peele has always been ambitious in his directorial outings; from the social commentary in "Get Out" to the bold parable of classism and nature vs. nurture in "Us," ambition is nothing new to Jordan Peele. However, this time, the film's scope matches Peele's ambitions to tell an entertaining and thrilling story.

Does that make "Nope" lesser than Peele's previous two films? Not at all. Instead, "Nope" should be an example of a director in his element no matter the film's scale. This blockbuster diversifies Peele's filmography while using the spectacle as a message in and of itself (more on that later). "Nope" is Jordan Peele channeling his inner-Spielberg, providing a "Jaws" for a new generation and a different social climate. Not only that, but Peele uses the blockbuster format to bring an impressive blending of genres, making "Nope" a western creature feature intent on providing thrills and awe, much like Steven Yeun's character Jupe and his "Star Lasso Experience."

The technical prowess of Nope

The term "blockbuster" as of late has taken an entirely different meaning compared to a decade ago, with most "blockbusters" usually involving someone wearing spandex and being a part of an interconnected universe. Original IPs as big summer tentpole releases are few and far between, so it should not be taken lightly when a traditional blockbuster like "Nope" comes around. The spectacle of the film shouldn't take away from fans of Peele's body of work having conversations about it, nor should it be seen as a detriment compared to Peele's previous works. 

Despite not bearing a heavy presence of social commentary like "Us" or "Get Out," that doesn't make "Nope" any less thrilling. The pure technical prowess of "Nope" alone is enough to help elevate the film. From the intricate sound design making viewers terrified of whatever is in the UFO's stomach at the time to the stunning IMAX cinematography giving the film a larger-than-life feel to Michael Abel's score, providing the film a thrilling western tone, Peele uses every technical aspect to his advantage like never before. Each technical part isn't without reason, as Peele uses them to blend Western and horror genres, creating a symphony of spectacle with a distinct purpose.

The human addiction to spectacle

While "Get Out" and "Us" are appreciated for their layered social commentary, it should be noted that the spectacle of "Nope" is the commentary that some viewers may believe that Peele is lacking. "Nope" is a warning, with the theme of the film being, as Peele puts it, "the human addiction to the spectacle."

There's a paradox there that was probably intentional on Jordan Peele's part, as the film's title, "Nope," serves as the reaction of characters in "Nope," who know better than to get drawn in by the grandiose nature of it's flying saucer opposition. Rather than risk it all and look up, OJ Haywood (Daniel Kaluuya) simply backs away, looks down, and mutters a simple "nope." Therein lies the contradiction. "Nope" as a film wants us to take in the spectacle of the film. "Nope" wants us to gaze at the Lovecraftian and majestic horror of its flying-saucer creature as it consumes its victims.

Jordan Peele goes full blockbuster mode to show audiences their own need to be dazzled while also displaying the consequences of becoming too addicted to that sort of spectacle. Those who say "Nope" is the most surface level of Peele's work should take a second look at the themes of the film. Viewers should appreciate that Jordan Peele manages to take the summer blockbuster and use it as a platform for a western horror film that tells a compelling story with visuals and action that is nothing short of spectacular.