Meewella | Critic

According to P

Tag: Keke Palmer

QuickView: Nope (2022)

“This dream you’re chasing, where you end up at the top of the mountain, all eyes on you… it’s the dream you never wake up from.”

Antlers Holst

Marketed as an extraterrestrial mystery, Jordan Peele’s third feature seems structured haphazardly as it morphs into a classic monster movie befitting the 70mm projection I saw. Its intention to obfuscate emerges from its opening with two separate and bloody prologues, followed by a long and meandering opening act that follows two sibling horse-wranglers — one laconically disengaged and the other energetically grating. The most enjoyable films of this type either trim the fat and dive straight into the meat like Tremors or focus almost entirely on the human relationships like Monsters. Nope lies somewhere between, though it tends toward the latter with Peele’s script exploring the capitalist tendencies that lead the siblings to an obsession with capturing footage of the UFO that they can exploit, whilst a nearby amusement park owner seeks to turn it into a crowd-pleasing spectacle. A particularly uncomfortable scene demonstrates the extent to which Yuen’s character is willing to market his own childhood trauma, a discarded subplot that is arguably more interesting. The film’s second half is more straightforward but also more successful, with familiar scenes as the characters learn the rules of interacting with the entity, and jury-rig solutions out in the California desert, its wide expanse of hills and skies captured dramatically by Hoyte Van Hoytema. With its overarching themes about humanity’s desire to control and exploit nature — and the risk in attempting to do so — Nope is not really covering new ground for the genre, but it is still an impressively-made throwback.


QuickView: Lightyear (2022)

“To infinity…”

Buzz Lightyear

Lightyear is the real film based on the fake toy from a real movie who thinks he’s a real person from a fake film which they have now really made. That convoluted (yet technically accurate) description demonstrates how unnecessary a film this is, but as Pixar exhausts the Toy Story franchise it is now looking to spin-offs for brand recognition. Based on the animation style, Lightyear would presumably have been a live-action film within the fiction of the first Toy Story, and perhaps fittingly it feels like an utterly generic sci-fi family film from the 1990s as Buzz takes on robot antagonists with the help of a handful of rookie Space Rangers. There is much to appreciate visually, from soft lighting diffusing through varied skintones to the weathering detail on aged space suits. Technical merits aside, this may be one of the least ambitious stories Pixar has ever told. Although it briefly sets up an interesting time dilation concept as Buzz tests hyperspace fuels, years passing each time he returns to the planet, Lightyear exhausts its creativity within the first act. In two hours it does little to advance Buzz’s character beyond a touchingly poignant gloss to his most famous catchphrase. Though unlikely to be profitable directly, Lightyear will presumably succeed through merchandising with a varied set of space-suited characters and a very cute robot cat, and perhaps Disney’s budgeting requires the studio to make a film like this to fund others like Soul. I am not sure there is quite enough here to keep kids fully entertained for two hours; adults, even accounting for nostalgia, will certainly feel like they have seen this all before.


"A film is a petrified fountain of thought."

(CC) BY-NC 2003-2023 Priyan Meewella

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