The Midnight Sky (2020) Review

A Slow burner of a cerebral sci fi that had me hooked, right up until the slightly disappointing ending.

Certificate: 12A

Director: George Clooney

Screenwriter: Lily Brooks-Dalton (based on the book by), Mark L. Smith (screenplay by)

Starring: George Clooney, Felicity Jones, David Oyelowo

Genre: Sci Fi, Drama

Runtime: 118 Minutes

Rating: 3 Stars

Reviewed by: Pearl

This post-apocalyptic tale follows Augustine, a lonely scientist in the Arctic, and a young girl he finds hiding in his research station as they race to stop Sully and her fellow astronauts from returning home to earth after it is ravaged a mysterious global catastrophe.

I have become a huge fan of these kinds of cerebral sci-fi movies.  The kind that always leave you slightly scratching your head and lack the space battles and silly alien worlds of full blown Sci-Fi.  Though I am a firm fan of those too.   So I went into this one knowing that it was going to be a slow burn, and that I was going to have to wait for the pay off that will inevitably come at the end of the film when everything finally made sense.  And while that did happen to an extent, I just felt like this film lacked…something.

Visually the film was stunning, the direction and cinematography were sublime, and did a great job of showing the isolation of Augustine in the Arctic and similarly, the isolation of the astronauts on board the Aether. The Action, when it happened, was heart pounding, and accompanied by the great score, did a good job of ramping up the tension and the drama.  I think were this film fell flat for me was the writing.

We all know that both George Clooney and Felicity Jones can deliver great perfomrances, so it will come as no surprise that they do the same here.  Clooney in particular, as he spends most of the film either acting alone, or against another actor who isn’t speaking, so he has to carry his parts of the film completely solo, which he does well.  Jones has a slightly easier tome as she has people to bounce off of, and therefore it is easier to drive a story because there are more players involved.  The downside was that the writing didn’t really allow for much story in either location as there is preciouis little dialogue to really explain what is going on.  We never learn what catastrophe has occurred, and what is going on with the rest of the planet.  Augustine’s past is shown briefly In flashbacks, but nearly often or long enough to give us any meaty information.  And Although the little twist at the end of the film is a nice little emotional moment, I still think the ending felt a little anticlimactic to me.

If constant lockdowns have got you feeling in a less than cheery mood this year, I would give this one a miss for now due to it’s themes of isolation and loneliness and it’s pretty depressing tone throughout.  Otherwise, if intelligent Sci-Fi films are your jam, it’s worth a watch, but is by no means the best of the bunch.

‘The Midnight Sky’ is streaming now on Netflix.

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