PG Score: 5/10
The Midnight Sky is available on Netflix
The Midnight Sky is packed with stunning imagery that will entrance most audiences, initially at least. However, the alluring cinematography is overshadowed by a bevy of issues. There are fragments of a good movie scattered throughout George Clooney’s latest directorial outing, but the full picture does not contain much substance.
Based on Lily Brooks-Dalton’s novel, Good Morning, Midnight, the dystopian adventure takes place in 2049 after a global disaster and centers on Augustine Lofthouse (George Clooney), a scientist who must navigate through the Arctic tundra in a race to prevent a group of astronauts from returning to an Earth that is no longer habitable.
The Midnight Sky is an emotionally driven drama that moonlights as a sci-fi flick. The aspects that compose the latter genre are the most compelling from a technical standpoint. Arguably the movie’s only true edge-of-your-seat sequence features a combination of celestial splendor and exhilarating destruction that will quench the thirst of any blockbuster aficionado. Unfortunately, the thrills are employed sparingly as Clooney opts for a much more drama-heavy approach.
This would be all well and good if it were executed effectively. Sadly, the result is anything but. The dialogue is thin to begin with, and the meager exchanges that do exist are mainly monotonous. On a brighter note, there are several flashbacks that shed light on the source of Augustine’s motivation and, unlike a good portion of the two-hour runtime, are integral to the efficacy of the climax. The film does not have a satisfying ending by any means, but it does gain a welcomed boost from the insight found in those scenes.
The framework The Midnight Sky creates in the enchanting first act is ultimately abandoned and left to rot as the pacing is reduced to a crawl. It grows tedious to sit through the increasingly boring conversations and a journey that is short on excitement. The biggest flaw is the deficiency of plot development, and with such high stakes, this is an especially egregious blunder. Frankly, the drama is not compelling enough to justify the movie’s shortage of action.
Clooney embodies the isolated Augustine with noteworthy gravitas. He is convincing as the overburdened protagonist and brings a refreshing depth to the role. The enormous weight on the main character’s shoulders is communicated masterfully and he manages to do so with minimal lines, making the performance that much more impressive. Clooney seems to tap into a subconscious connection with the character as his portrayal is among his most genuine in recent years.
Strangely, the slow-moving film does not provide nearly enough character development for the astronauts. This results in a lack of empathy from the viewer and proves particularly troublesome in the third act. Felicity Jones, David Oyelowo, Tiffany Boone, Sophie Rundle, Kyle Chandler, and Demian Bichir comprise a supporting cast that feels somewhat underutilized. Much of the star power isn’t given enough time to shine and that is a shame, considering the skill that many on that list possess. Jones and Rundle are the standouts, but it’s hard to make an accurate assessment based on the minimal screen time given to most of the actors.
A talented cast and gorgeous visuals are wasted on a film that fundamentally fails to build upon the imposing groundwork it alludes to early on. The Midnight Sky may shoot for the stars but barely makes it off the ground.
PG Score: 5/10
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