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Hall reviews Nope

This week on "Justin Hall At The Movies," I'll be asking if you want to see Jordan Peele's latest thriller. I hope the answer is anything but "Nope."

Nope is writer/director Jordan Peele's third thriller. His first two outings were the exceptional and brilliant Get Out and Us. Both of them proved that he wasn't a fluke.

So, how does Nope stack up? Well, it's certainly an ambitious, inventive effort and you have to give Peele credit for putting another unique spin on the genre, but it somewhat falls short of his other efforts.

Peele reteams with his Get Out leading man Daniel Kaluuya and also costars Keke Palmer as OJ and Emerald Haywood, a brother and sister who own their late father's ranch designed to break and train horses.

A mysterious entity becomes responsible for their electricity going haywire as well as their horses becoming gobbled up.

They try to get evidence of the entity's destruction on film and they hire an electronic store employee (Brandon Perea) and a cinematographer (Michael Wincott) to join them in their attempt. One scene involves the crew using an IMAX camera to capture footage and we wonder whether or not it's product placement or do supernatural beings have a desire to be filmed in such resolution.

Nope does prove to be mostly original in its execution, but we can't help but think that Spielberg might've provided some inspiration for some scenes. When the entity is largely unseen for most of the movie, Jaws automatically comes to mind. Some scenes do feel like Jaws in the sky. Close Encounters of the Third Kind also gets a nod due to the desert location combined with a force that may or may not be alien in nature.

Peele can have an occasionally frightening and bizarre imagination and he creates an atmosphere that doesn't merely pound us with shock after shock. The first half is methodical in its setup, but that also proves to be a bit frustrating when all we get is dialogue and so little excitement. Thankfully, the second half redeems it even if logically it still runs off the rails.

Kaluuya and Palmer have good camaraderie and they help elevate the material with enough wit and humor to keep us engaged.

I guess this is always the problem with a great director who consistently dazzles either gives us an ingenious narrative structure or a technical marvel. When they bat 999 instead of a thousand, we feel cheated, but still have hope they can catch their second wind.

I'm seeing yup to Nope, but I want Peele to return to the drawing board and give us something much more cerebral and less flashy and convoluted.

Grade: B

(Rated R for language throughout and some violence/bloody images.)

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