In Brief: A decent — but not great — and predictable sci-fi flick from actor-director George Clooney.
Looking at George Clooney in The Midnight Sky is going to shock you. Though he often does pretty intense roles, we all know Clooney as handsome, suave and mostly in control.
Gray with a very heavy beard, Clooney is nearly unrecognizable in this semi-interesting science fiction thriller. The semi-interesting comes from an end-of-the-world story that has been better done other places. What saves the film is a pretty good performance from Clooney and his directing.
Clooney’s sets, setting and use of special effects sell this thriller.
Set in the very near future, the movie says global warming finally catches up with the planet. Clooney’s Augustine is a scientist stationed at the North Pole and desperate to contact a space team who were sent to a newly discovered moon that orbits Jupiter. It’s perfect for human life.
Augustine works overtime to contact the spaceship’s crew to warn them not to return to Earth. His desperation is set in the movie’s backstory. Adding to the man’s mystery is a little girl who accidentally gets left behind when the pole’s station is evacuated.
She’s done by newcomer, Caoilinn Springall. The girl has no lines but through some good coaching from Clooney the director, she manages to speak volumes with her eyes. How the girl — Iris — figures into the story is one of the mysteries Clooney and his writers explore.
The space team’s story isn’t quite as interesting but is necessary for the predictable, easy-to-see twist at the end of the movie. It is the special effects that push their story. They work quite well and make Clooney’s movie more interesting.
Like most directors, the temptation to overuse special effects is irresistible. While they’re very good, they end up padding the movie and dragging out the story.
The Midnight Sky is based on Lilly Brooks-Dalton’s sci-fi novel, Good Morning, Midnight. The key word is based. Screenwriter Mark L. Smith’s (The Revenant) screenplay leaves a lot to be desired and, though I haven’t read the book, it appears that he changes things around quite a bit.
Are they for the better? Probably not.
Director: George Clooney
Stars: George Clooney, Felicity Jones, David Oyelowo, Caoilinn Springall, Kyle Chandler, Demain Bichir, Tiffany Boone, Sophie Rundle, Ethan Peck
Rated PG-13 for mature themes and language. The Midnight Sky is predictable science fiction. George Clooney the director is so-so and you’ve seen Clooney the actor acting much better. Give this one a barely passing grade of a 3 on the Friday Flicks with Gary o to 5 scale.
You can stream The Midnight Sky on Netflix.
Gary Wolcott has been reviewing movies on radio, television and newspaper since 1990. He believes — and this is an estimate only — that he’s seen something close to 10,000 movies in his lifetime. Gary is a lifelong fan of films and catches a couple of hundred movies a year. He believes movies ought to be seen on the big screen and not on the small screen in your living room or family room. While he loves movies, he also says reviewing film can be a real sacrifice and that he sees many movies so you don’t have to.
He is one of KXL 101.1 FM’s film critics and joined the news staff in 2014. Gary is also the film critic for Tri-Cities, Washington’s Tri-City Herald.