Midnight Special Movie Review
Midnight Special is a 2016 science fiction drama film directed by Jeff Nichols and starring Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton and Kirsten Dunst. It is a solid, albeit very disappointing movie.
“Sometimes we are asked to do things that are beyond us“
It follows a father and his son with supernatural abilities as they escape the authorities. What is good in this movie is the ending which is powerful and memorable, if a bit too mysterious. I also really liked some of the scenes with his abilities, in particular the moment where the child speaks Spanish is very intriguing. But the film is disappointing overall due mostly to its unoriginality. I’ve seen this type of movie many times before. A kid has special powers and is dangerous etc. Its mix of drama and science fiction genres is somewhat refreshing, but even that mix isn’t handled as well as it should have been.
Roy is a good, but typical character. Alton is more of a plot device and never a fully developed character. But Sarah is pretty well realized and I liked Lucas quite a bit as he is such a caring, likable person. The acting is definitely pretty good with Michael Shannon being excellent and Kirsten Dunst also being surprisingly good in her more emotional sequences.
Midnight Special has a very engaging second half and a memorable finale, but the problem is that the entire first half is rather messy, tedious and lifeless. It was just too slow for me to enjoy it more. The directing from Jeff Nichols is also problematic as he is basically channeling Spielberg here, but never quite achieving the level of awe-inspiring spectacle of ‘Close Encounters of the Third Kind’, the movie that was clearly the major influence for him. Neither of his movies are particularly great to me and Midnight Special unfortunately continues that trend.
Because the director is too influenced by Steven Spielberg, the movie is left feeling too unoriginal and uncreative. It is also too mysterious. The first half worked, but the second half should have resolved more. The score is pretty good as is the acting, but the editing should have been better and the emotional engagement wasn’t great. Yes, some scenes were pretty emotional, but because the characters weren’t as fully realized, the impact of those sequences was seriously blunted.
Its religious overtones are also not great. I mean they are intriguing themselves, but the execution of those elements wasn’t nowhere near as strong as the movie demanded it. The visual effects are excellent for such a small-budget flick and the last scene really is beautiful to look at. But it was too much like ‘Tomorrowland‘ in its imagery which is again a testament to the movie’s unfortunate unoriginality. The tone is too serious and sometimes even depressing. The dialogue is pretty solid, but I still expected more from it. That is the problem here – everything is solid, but nothing is great. Each and every thing had the potential to be great, but the execution is pretty mediocre and it leaves us with a very disappointing, frustrating film. Midnight Special is, along with ‘The Witch’, one of the first movies of the year that seriously disappointed me.