“The Midnight Sky” is directed by George Clooney (Gravity, Batman & Robin) and he also stars in the film as Augustine Lofthouse. Clooney is surrounded by a cast of characters played by Felicity Jones (The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Rogue One: A Star Wars Story), David Oyelowo (Gringo, Selma), Tiffany Boone (The Chi, Hunters), Demián Bichir (Grand Hotel, The Hateful Eight), Kyle Chandler (Game Night, Godzilla: King of the Monsters), and Caoilinn Springall in her film debut. This film is based on the novel “Good Morning, Midnight,” by Lily Brooks-Dalton and takes place in post-apocalyptic times as Augustine, a scientist, attempts to bring a group of astronauts home while also avoiding unfortunate events.
George Clooney has directed a few films so far including “The Ides of March,” which I have not seen. “The Monuments Men,” which I have also not seen despite owning it on Blu-ray. And let’s not forget “Suburbicon,” which seems to have a cool concept, but having seen poor verdicts from others, I wonder if it is even worth checking out at this point. Nevertheless, George Clooney’s latest directorial effort is the first one I’ve had the opportunity to check out. Before I went to the theater to see this film, I saw a trailer for it somewhere else, and I was immediately in just from knowing this was a space film, and those have been some of my favorites over the years. This was also my first Cinemark XD experience, so I was getting a unique flavor alongside the film. Without going into much detail, this movie was worth the extra few bucks on the ticket, and I will probably be back for that specific auditorium soon. But how was the movie itself?
First and foremost, “The Midnight Sky” is a visually stunning adventure. This movie is distributed by Netflix, which as many of you may know, traditionally releases their content for the small screen. However, in recent years with movies like “Mudbound,” “Roma,” and “The Irishman,” they have been stepping up their theatrical efforts, perhaps mainly to outline themselves as a major force during the Oscars. If I were a voting member of the Academy and I had the opportunity to nominate a film for the Best Visual Effects category, “The Midnight Sky” would be a contender. Although at the same time, there are some points in the film where the effects look obviously artificial and less than realistic. Even with that in mind, it did not take away from the film’s flair. “The Midnight Sky” is easy on the eyes, and at various times, it’s the same on the ears. Like many other space films, the sound in this movie is magic. Although I will say compared to movies like “Gravity,” “First Man,” and even ones I did not enjoy such as “Ad Astra,” it is not as memorable in the sound department as those.
Story-wise, “The Midnight Sky” kicks off rather slow. I do not mind slow movies. Some of my favorite movies are slow. However, “The Midnight Sky” sort of failed to keep me at a proper pace during certain points. I have no idea why, but for whatever reason, this movie did not click with me instantaneously. As for later points, those were the definite highlights.
This film takes place both on earth and in outer space, and we see the two alternate perspectives and the people within them as they go about their ways and goals. The story on earth shows a bearded George Clooney trekking through the ice and bonding with a young girl. In space, there is a crew attempting to make their way home from Jupiter and we see these two stories play out and how they connect with one another. I liked certain fragments of both stories, but if you told me before I saw this movie that I’d end up digging the story on earth a little more, I’d be surprised.
My favorite parts of the movie are between George Clooney’s character, Augustine Lofthouse, and a young girl he meets by the name of Iris, played by first time actress Caoilinn Springall. First off, sticking on the topic of Caolinn Springall, I think she is going to have a very bright future ahead of her. This first role of hers has minimal dialogue, which makes it a good pick for a first time actress, but what sold this role more than anything else is the physicality aspect. Films are all about visual storytelling, and when you can use the visual movements of a person as much as possible to heighten the story, your film is guaranteed to work. Springall gives one of the most visually competent performances of the year, regardless of age. Plus, the journey between her and Clooney make for some of the grittier moments of the movie. The duo’s trek through the stormy snow makes for a definite highlight.
I will say, if there is a flaw that I have picked up, it’s that the side characters of the film do not really leave me with much to write home about. While there are only a couple of characters on earth, there are a few more in space. Some highlights include Sully Rembshire (Felicity Jones) and Commander Gordon Adewole (David Oyelowo). However, when it comes to these characters in space, it was a little bit harder for me to get attached to them compared to those remaining on earth. Maybe it is because of a matter of quantity and quality. There are more characters in space, but fewer on earth, so the time spent with those on earth maybe feels more intimate and special. Although I will say, kind of like the story on earth, the story in space got better with time. The pacing went faster, the stakes went higher, and the Movie Reviewing Moron ended up being happier!
Speaking of quick pace and high stakes, the way this film ends makes for one of my favorite climaxes of the year. It feels so somber yet so relaxing. With a film maintaining the tone it has, it is a perfect way for everything to go down. I do not think George Clooney is up there with the greats in regards to filmmakers, but “The Midnight Sky” proves itself to be a watchable space to ground drama with a series of heavy visual effects, despite a feeling of intimacy here and there. I will say, I do not watch Netflix, but I would not mind if I started to use Netflix to watch this film again, because it sort of does play out like a puzzle, and maybe a second watch will allow me to appreciate it more. I am curious to see if Clooney wants to continue his directing career, because if he keeps making movies like this, he could be well-rounded amongst his Hollywood peers.
In the end, “The Midnight Sky” is a wonderous trip through a post-apocalypse. George Clooney gives it his all as a performer and behind the scenes. I do need some time to process the film, but I would not mind it contending during awards season for the visual effects category. If anything else, I really like the way they do the credits. It is vastly different from many other films you see, and it kept me around for a few minutes. I recommend this film, give it a watch! I’m going to give “The Midnight Sky” a 7/10.
“The Midnight Sky” is now playing in theaters and will stream on Netflix for subscribers starting Wednesday December 23rd.
Thanks for reading this review! Just want to let you all know that my next review is going to be for the STX movie “Greenland,” which premieres on VOD services starting December 18th. Also, this Sunday, I’m going to see Sony’s latest attempt at a video game film… “Monster Hunter.”
Don’t cry Jack, don’t cry. You’re gonna get through this! Big monsters cannot hurt anyone! That review will be up next week. Stay tuned! Speaking of staying tuned for more great content, be sure to follow Scene Before either with an email or WordPress account! Also, check out my Facebook page! I want to know, did you see “The Midnight Sky?” What did you think about it? Or, have you seen any of the other films George Clooney directed? Tell me your thoughts! Scene Before is your click to the flicks!