This week, pictures of the 'evil E.T.' film that never got made as Jordan Peele takes centre stage with Nope 🛸
“I can’t lie to you about your chances, but… you have my sympathies.”
~ Alien, 1979
Well, hello there…
There has been a recent spike in subscribers and we want to take this opportunity to say thanks (and thanks again to long-term readers) for welcoming Salty Popcorn to your inbox.
In less than two years, SP has shot past the target of 200 subscribers, which in December 2020 seemed like a very lofty goal. We’re delighted to have you here and we hope you’ll enjoy reading SP now and forever.
It feels like the world of cinema is celebrating with us as a number of trailers have dropped in the last week and all of them look to be promising films as we leave the summer blockbusters behind.
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Now for the headlines:
Aubrey Plaza joins the cast for Francis Ford Coppola’s next project Megalopolis. You read that right, at 83 years, Coppola is still going strong and is funding much of the film himself. Read more.
Warner Bros. has pulled an adaptation of Stephen King’s Salem’s Lot from its release schedule, with a new date yet to be announced. Read more.
Speaking of Warner Bros., Matt Reeves has just struck a deal to direct the sequel to The Batman. Read more.
The sequel to Knives Out — Glass Onion: A Knives Out Mystery — has a confirmed December release, though we’re yet to see a trailer. Read more.
On a final and solemn note, Cineworld, the world’s second-largest cinema chain and owner of Picture House is filing for bankruptcy. Read more.
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Empire of Light
UK: 13 January // USA: 9 December
From Oscar-winning director Sam Mendes comes Empire of Light, which has been dubbed a ‘powerful and poignant story about human connection and the magic of cinema’.
UK: 30 September // USA: 30 September
In a remote Irish fishing village, Aileen (Emily Watson) is torn between protecting her son (Paul Mescal) and her own sense of right and wrong when a lie she tells rips apart her family and close-knit community.
UK: 11 November // USA: 11 November
Living is the story of Mr Williams (Bill Nighy), an ordinary man reduced by years of oppressive office routine to a shadow existence, who at the eleventh hour makes a supreme effort to turn his dull life into something extraordinary.
Fact of the week
What do E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, Poltergeist and Gremlins have in common? Well, they were all born of the same original script.
Steven Spielberg was going to produce filmmaker John Sayles’ script “Night Skies” a film (that was never made) about a rural family invaded by aliens that could kill with a single touch. However, Spielberg decided to go in a more family-friendly direction with E.T. and while Sayles wouldn’t rewrite the script, Spielberg held on to some ideas from it for Poltergeist and Gremlins.
Meanwhile, some work was put into creating an ‘evil E.T.’ below is what he would have looked like. For more photos and details of ‘the most important film never made’ click here.
3 (out of 5)
Where to watch:
USA: Only in cinemas
UK: Only in cinemas
Siblings Emerald (Keke Palmer) and OJ (Daniel Kaluuya) discover something sinister in the skies above their Californian horse ranch, while the owner of an adjacent theme park tries to profit from the mysterious, otherworldly phenomenon.
Note: This trailer is fairly spoiler-free but the less you know about Nope, the better it will be.
The review (NO spoilers):
It’s been a while since we’ve had a decent alien film (A Quiet Place might be the most recent), and as a fan of sci-fi, I’ve been looking forward to Nope ever since the poster was released last July, but it wasn’t the film of epic proportions that I was expecting.
Something that director Jordan Peele does very well with his films is blending comedy and horror, which is no different with Nope. There are plenty of quips and one-liners that make for comedy gold without cheapening the sinister undertones of what’s unfolding. However, about halfway through, the film becomes less about suspense and more about action, with too heavy a lean on special effects for my liking.
Following the huge commercial success of his first two films, it’s no wonder that Peele was given a whopping budget of $68m for Nope, compared to $4.5m and $20m for Get Out and Us respectively. But as with many directors that go from meagre to mighty budgets, it can feel like their films lose something along the way.
Nope is a difficult film to judge. There were some truly enjoyable moments, including scenes that will send shivers down your spine and a script that will make you laugh out loud more than once. Unfortunately, the final act leaves an underwhelming aftertaste that’s difficult to ignore.
Scroll down for The Critic’s Cut and to see what’s in the next issue.
If you liked Nope…
2002 | UK: Amazon Prime (free for subs) // USA: AppleTV ($3.99)
The trailer is a little dated by modern standards, but Signs is a solid alien horror film. Directed by M. Night Shyamalan — who is a prime example of a director that’s lost their charm as their budgets got bigger — this film will keep you in suspense right until the end.
In the next issue:
Three Thousand Years of Longing
UK: 02 September // USA: 26 August | Watch the Trailer
The Critic’s Cut 🚨SPOILER ALERT🚨:
I can’t help but wish that Jordan Peele delivered an alien film that’s closer to the template we’re used to. There’s enough going on in Nope that’s different to other sci-fi films without needing to veer so far away from the lore we’re used to. For me, this urge to be so different felt a bit ‘try-hard’ and the final act is much more about special effects than anything else.
The best part of a horror film like Nope is when we don’t know what ‘the thing’ is. It’s the mystery that keeps us in a grip of fearful suspense. However, as soon as that veil is lifted and we either see or apply logic and understanding to ‘it’, the mystery disappears - taking much of the suspense with it.
I’m sure I’ve said it before, but it’s much better to keep an audience guessing until the very end of the film, and maybe even as the credits start rolling.