With all the love for Get Out and Us, Jordan Peele's Nope reviews arrive with plenty of excitement and expectation. And, so far, it seems like it's a mixed bag. But since we at Tom's Guide are curious what they think — and also extremely spoiler-averse, as we're not seeing Nope until next week — we're delivering a spoiler-free Nope review roundup.
The good news is simple: critics are praising Jordan Peele as one of the best filmmakers of his era. Star Keke Palmer, it seems, may be the real star of the movie, at least based on the reviews we've seen so far.
On the downside, it seems like one of the biggest problems here is that Nope may not be as good as either Get Out or Us. The most common complaint about the film seems to be that the plot at the core of the movie isn't quite there.
In fact, some are already saying it's going to be Peele's most divisive film yet. So, without further ado, here's what the critics say about Nope (which is exclusively in theaters starting Friday, July 22):
Nope reviews roundup: What critics like
A.O. Scott at the New York Times (opens in new tab) writes that "there are some fascinating internal tensions within the movie, along with impeccably managed suspense, sharp jokes and a beguiling, unnerving atmosphere of all-around weirdness." Scott also praises the rest of the team, giving verbal flowers to "Guillaume Rocheron’s haunting, eye-popping special effects, Hoyte van Hoytema’s lucid-dream cinematography and Nicholas Monsour’s sharp editing."
Leah Greenblatt, for Entertainment Weekly (opens in new tab), praises the cast by stating "The casting, as always, is on point: Palmer's Emerald is loose and funny and kinetically alive, the kind of final-girl hero most scary movies only feint at creating, and Kaluuya remains one of the most fascinatingly interior actors to watch on screen."
At The Verge (opens in new tab), Charles Pulliam-Moore exclaims "there’s a majesty to Nope’s sweeping shots of the California desert that feels reflective of [Peele's] evolution as a filmmaker and of cinematographer Hoyte van Hoytema’s artistic sensibilities. Nope’s striking, almost portrait-like shots of its heroes immediately call to mind Western classics like Sidney Poitier’s Buck and the Preacher." He also notes that "Nope leaves itself far less open to interpretation than Peele’s previous films, and it’s better for it as the movie shifts gears in order to give itself ample time to show off its VFX budget."
Nope review roundup: What critics didn't like
Robert Daniels at Polygon (opens in new tab) points out a "running lack of impact" that may have "to do with Peele’s unwillingness to let Nope tell a story beyond winking references." More frustratingly, Daniels argues Peele is "uninterested in exploring the inner lives of his characters, who largely coast on repetitive punchlines and cloying sentimentality." The biggest slap is that "the biggest surprise of the tight-lipped Nope is that it’s Jordan Peele’s weakest film."
At Variety (opens in new tab), Owen Gleiberman wrote a very spoiler-heavy review that you really should stay away from if you're trying to go in clean. That said, he warns us of a bad taste at the end of Nope, arguing "the anticipation works better than the payoff."
Peter Bradshaw at The Guardian (opens in new tab) gave Nope a 2 out of 5 star review, which he ends by stating "There are plenty of bold and riveting images in Nope; bizarre dreamlike iterations. Kaluuya and Palmer have, singly, a cool self-possession and address to the camera, but no really compelling chemistry as siblings or anything else. There is something clotted and heavy about this film, with sadly not enough of the humour for which Peele justly became celebrated in his double-act days with Keegan-Michael Key. It’s not the positive response I wanted to have."
Nope review roundup outlook
We will now go into the theaters to see Nope with a re-calibrated set of expectations. It appears that Peele is still the powerful filmmaker we know, but it sounds like Nope is a bit undercooked at its core.
Know to expect fun, thrills and brilliant visuals, but don't expect a movie that stands up to Peele's first two hits. As someone who was amazed at the SXSW premiere of Us, I hope that Peele's next film manages to find the magic.
Next: Our streaming editor thinks you should go watch Nope in theatres.