Sydney Brumfield, Senior Writer
A gripping spectacle that keeps viewers hanging on to the edge of their seats, Jordan Peele’s third directorial film “Nope” holds nothing back. “Nope” tells the story of siblings OJ Haywood (Daniel Kaluuya) and Emerald Haywood (Keke Palmer) as they work to capture proof of a mysterious force that is wreaking havoc on their ranch in rural California.
“Nope” is a brilliant cinematic experience crafted especially for the big screen. By utilizing wide shots in the isolated environment of the ranch, Peele captures the intimacy, seclusion and fear that accompany the characters as they face unimaginable terror. While watching “Nope” in theaters, viewers feel engulfed in the horror-stricken, picturesque world, especially due to the sheer magnitude of the film.
In addition to its astounding visuals, “Nope” is a touching narrative about a family coming together, driven home by Kaluuya and Palmer’s spectacular acting. The narrative is only heightened by supporting character Ricky ‘Jupe’ Park (Stephen Yeun)’s equally incredible performance, adding immense depth and dimension to this striking film.
The horror in “Nope” definitely leans more toward sci-fi thriller than gory horror, which makes the use of blood in the film that much more effective. The suspense and pacing of the high–intensity scenes are curated. Peele manages to keep the audience just enough in the dark on the world of the narrative and the looming threat that the horror of this film shines through.
The weakest part of “Nope” is that a character introduced roughly midway through the film — cinematographer Antlers Holst (Michael Wincott) — derails the primary narrative and is poorly developed. Despite this brief shortcoming, “Nope” masterfully walks the line between comedy and horror, yet again solidifying Peele’s excellence as a filmmaker. The biggest takeaway is that “Nope” is truly out of this world.
“Marcel the Shell with Shoes On”
Director Dean Fleischer-Camp transports audiences to a playful new world living right below their noses in “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On.” Told through the expert combination of stop-motion animation and live action, “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” follows Marcel (Jenny Slate) — a one-inch tall shell with shoes — as he joins forces with Dean (Dean Fleischer-Camp) to show people the larger-than-life world of shells.
“Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” captures the world through childlike wonderment in a dazzling way, making it nearly impossible for viewers to look away. Audiences watch as Marcel uses everyday objects like tennis balls, kitchen mixers and curtain blinds in unimaginable ways, buzzing with youthful excitement. The very reality that Marcel lives in is full of simple magic that is incredibly spellbinding.
The character of Marcel is intricate and heartfelt, especially for a shell. He is nuanced, riddled with intelligence as well as incredible sarcasm as he delivers some of the most zinging one–liners in cinematic history. While being both witty and hysterical, Marcel is magnificently utilized to explore mature and universal themes like love, grief, abandonment, the fear of change and, most notably, the looming threat of the unknown.
This film is a touching narrative about the power of community and the importance of friendship. “Marcel the Shell with Shoes On” especially highlights how much of life people miss out on if they don’t take a moment to appreciate the little things around them.
Evan Miller, Staff Writer
Director Carey Williams’ film “Emergency” follows close friends Kunle (Donald Elise Watkins) and Sean (RJ Cyler), two Black university seniors who plan on having one unforgettable party-filled night before they graduate. The film premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in January 2022 where it landed a distribution deal with Amazon Studios, which released the film on its Prime Video streaming platform in May.
Their epic night suddenly and unexpectedly gets derailed when they find an unknown, unconscious white woman (Maddie Nichols) in their apartment. Worried that the police will suspect them of wrongdoing based solely on the color of their skin, they decide to try to get her to safety without drawing any suspicion.
“Emergency” is often as hilarious as it is tension-filled. Williams executes the film brilliantly and for the most part knows exactly how to smoothly transition between scenes that are funny to those that are extremely dramatic and stressful. However, there were moments where the comedy could have been slightly dialed down to strengthen some scenes’ impact.
The implications dealt with in the film make it an extremely timely and important watch. Heavy subject matter like racism and police brutality are tackled in ways that feel very true to life.
Watkins gives a remarkable performance in the film as a man who desperately wants to do the right thing and doesn’t truly understand what is at stake until it is almost too late. His dynamic performance provides for some of the film’s most emotional and dramatic moments.
Not only is “Emergency” one of the most original comedies in years, but it is also one of the most important. This is a film that has a lot to say and executes all of its messages and themes to perfection.
Matt Minton, Co Life and Culture Editor
“Top Gun: Maverick”
One film this summer burst into theaters to remind us why movies are truly magic. With its exhilarating and stunningly choreographed flight sequences, beautiful cinematography and strong writing, “Top Gun: Maverick” became an undeniable hit.
The original “Top Gun,” released in 1986, certainly had some fun action sequences and characters to boast in spite of a fairly standard script that hit all the expected story beats without pushing the envelope. However, “Top Gun: Maverick” improves on its predecessor in just about every way, with director Joseph Kosinski building the story to real emotional stakes that deeply invests the audience in the characters. Captain Pete “Maverick” Mitchell (Tom Cruise) is someone who refuses to slow down or stop chasing his love for flying, leading to several exhilarating scenes that examine just how far humans will go to chase a high. However, Maverick finds himself struggling and digging into past memories upon having to train Lt. Bradley “Rooster” Bradshaw (Miles Teller), creating a deeply personal conflict that grounds the story.
While there were many other blockbusters that came out this summer, very few, if any, came close to the momentum and rush that watching “Top Gun: Maverick” provides for audience members. Many forgettable and lackluster films have entered the billion-dollar club over the years. However, “Top Gun: Maverick,” which hit a billion dollars in June 2022, is one of the few films that deserves its entry, carrying real merit to its name.