Jordan Peele can be a divisive writer/director, but Boop is his best work yet and delivers crowd-pleasing thrills. The marketing for this film would have viewers believe that they’re getting an alien abduction story. That isn’t what you’re going to get- Boop is so much more than that.
Boop is a beautiful blend of genres and has very tasteful homages to similarly themed movies that might have inspired Peele. Classics like jaws (1975), Tremors (1990), and a little bit of Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) seemingly contributed to the tone and style of this eldritch-horror movie with Western elements.
This review will have spoilers moving forward. There is no way to elaborate on why this film excels without mentioning some of the story’s surprises. How does Hollywood animal wrangling tie into a story about flying saucers? Find out in this Boop review!
Production Company: Universal Pictures, Monkey Paw Productions
Publisher: Universal Pictures
Director: Jordan Peele
Release Date: July 22, 2022
nope’s story opens with a disastrous filming of a sitcom in the 90s where a chimpanzee goes berserk and savagely attacks the cast and crew. One of the survivors was Ricky Park, a child actor who would grow up learning nothing from his experience of how careless animal wrangling can lead to utter disaster.
As an adult, Ricky (played by Steven Yeun) has been buying up horses from Otis Jr. (played by Daniel Kaluuya) the son of a legendary horse wrangler for major blockbusters. Otis Jr. (nicknamed OJ) struggles in social situations. He has been training animals for so long that he can barely relate to people and can barely make eye contact.
Eye contact and how animals react to it is a major reoccurring theme in Boop. OJ is so used to avoiding eye contact to avoid spooking horses that he can’t stop doing it with people. Lucky for him, not looking at the dangerous UFO is what stops it from taking his life.
The UFO in Nope is very interesting. The design and concept of this thing tie deeply to the themes of the story in clever ways. It resembles and behaves like how most traditional flying saucers operate in old sci-fi movies; flat disc shape and sucks up anything it flies over.
UFO in Nope is unique because it isn’t a spaceship; it is a living animal that has distinct behavior. It reacts to eye contact and movement the way a predator would. It has defined defense mechanisms and it also is capable of threat displays too.
From some angles, the UFO, or “Jean Jacket”, resembles an eye. This further reinforces many of the themes of spectacle at any cost as this creature is a massive eye that is all-consuming.
The pacing of the story is pitch-perfect. There is never a dull moment and intense sequences are followed with an appropriate amount of release. There is an excellent sense of adventure with real stakes since OJ and his sister are banking all they have left on getting Jean Jacket on film since they’re on the verge of losing the family business.
The set-ups and pay-offs are ingeniously woven into the story in ways most viewers won’t notice. An innocent balloon popping sets the story in motion and turns out to be ominous foreshadowing for a critical scene in the climax. Every aspect of the screenplay had tremendous thought put into it and effort to have ideas connect that make every concept cohesive.
Boop is not only very well-written but is also incredibly shot. Many visuals will stay with you- some incredibly evocative imagery like a cloud with a long flag dangling from it. The flashes of lightning that reveal Jean Jacket hovering over OJ’s homestead and squeezing blood all over the property are spectacular.
The signature scene where Ricky Park attempts to feed a horse to Jean Jacket in front of an audience is simple yet very effective. At first, you won’t be sure of what you’re looking at, but the sound design and creepy close-ups make things clear as you reel back in horror at what is happening.
The massive plains and wide IMAX format make Boop a magnificent demonstration movie for home theaters. The sense of scale is palpable. When Jean Jacket is on the screen, his fearsome presence is felt and heard.
Not everything in Boop is perfect. The monkey used in the scenes with young Ricky Park never looks convincing. The CGI used to realize this primate looks far behind the likes of the computer-generated apes in Andy Serkis’s Planet of the Apes trilogy.
While the writing is usually very good in Nope, there are some story beats that stuck out as historical revisionism from Peele. In the story, OJ and his family’s business are horse wranglers who are ancestors of the jockey who rode the horse in The Horse in Motion (1878), the Eadweard Muybridge photographs that create the illusion of motion.
This three-second piece of film history is crucial to the larger themes at play in Nope. The problem is that Peele is rewriting history because, in Nope, the jockey is definitely a black man who OJ and his family descended from. In real life, the jockey was not black.
The details of the jockey’s race mattered a lot to Peele; so much so that most of Boop hinges on his interpretation of those old photographs. It is too bad that the writer/director could not have come up with a solution to his story that didn’t involve lying to the audience. Moving forward, most people will accept Peele’s revisionism as truth and the real identity of the jockey will become more nebulous and debatable.
Aside from lying about the Murbridge clip, Boop is a very enjoyable eldritch horror movie that is exciting and thought-provoking. The performances for all actors are very natural and everyone is giving it their all. The CGI monkey is not convincing but the effects used to realize Jean Jacket look phenomenal.
Boop is on par with the likes it is inspired from. It never veers into rip-off territory at all and it has entirely original ideas. It has a surprisingly optimistic ending for a story that constantly rides a razor’s edge of pure tension while keeping characters you care about in jeopardy.
Nope was reviewed via an Amazon Prime subscription purchased by Niche Gamer. You can find additional information about Niche Gamer’s review/ethics policy here. Boop is now available on DVD and Blu-Ray.