Midnight Special (2016)

midnight special poster 2016 movie
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Interesting concept and good cast for a more intimate sci-fi film

Somewhat underwhelming at points

Movie Info

Movie Name: Midnight Special

Studio:  Faliro House Productions

Genre(s): Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):  February 12, 2016 (Germany)/March 18, 2016 (US)

MPAA Rating: PG-13

midnight special alton super powers jaeden lieberher

Bonnie Tyler’s Total Eclipse of the Heart music video demonstrated the first crossover of the kids into our world

Alton Meyer (Jaeden Lieberher) is a special boy and many people are starting to realize that.  Abducted from a cult in Texas by his father Roy Tomlin (Michael Shannon) and his friend Lucas (Joel Edgerton), Alton finds himself on the run.  The government has also realized Alton’s value and threat as Paul Sevier (Adam Driver) is assigned to help locate Alton who could potentially be one of the world’s most dangerous weapon.  Alton must reach a designated time and location, and Roy, Lucas, and Alton’s mother Sarah (Kirsten Dunst) could be his only hope.

Written and directed by Jeff Nichols, Midnight Special is a science-fiction fantasy action-adventure.  The movie premiered at the Berlin International Film Festival before having a wide release in March of 2016.  The movie received largely positive reviews.

midnight special michael shannon

Protect the boy

I wanted to see Midnight Special, but I for some reason just couldn’t set myself to do it.  Everything about it is a type of movie I’d like, but I just never could motivate myself.  Having finally seen Midnight Special after years of hearing about it, I did like it…but I also found a few aspects underwhelming.  There will be a few ******spoiler alerts****** for the remainder of the review.

The story is essential a “what if the last part of E.T. the Extra-terrestrial was stretched into a full film?”  Like in E.T., Alton has designated a location he must reach by a certain time or there could be a potential disaster.  The government and the cult are trying to stop them and evading them means some unethical actions on the part of Roy, Lucas, and Sarah (as Roy indicates, Alton is too important to risk).  I feel that the cult was underused as a threat and the tension peaked a bit too early in the final sequence when you (as the audience) knew Alton was safe…even if Roy and Lucas didn’t.

midnight special adam driver jaeden lieberher

I’m here to out weird Michael Shannon

The cast is great.  Even as a good guy, there is a leering nature to Michael Shannon that kind of reminds me of Orson Welles…something says don’t trust that guy, but he usually puts it to work in his roles.  Joel Edgerton also plays up the “completely normal” guy and does give his character dimension in his loyalty to Roy and the situation.  Adam Driver who in a lot of ways reminds me of Michael Shannon plays a very Adam Driver character.  Kirsten Dunst has matured well into adult roles, but it is odd to think back on her path.  As mentioned, the cult was underused and as a result Sam Shepard felt like his role could have been expanded.

midnight special ending alternate world

Excuse me….where’s the restroom?

The movie was relatively low budget for a science fiction movie and that is why it feels largely like a conceptual science fiction movie.  The undefined power of Alton is very vague in description, but the film’s final sequence in which Alton’s world and Earth’s world merge for a moment does show moments of great design and engineering on the part of the special effects.

Midnight Special is one of those odd niche science-fiction movies.  It is a movie that isn’t mean to be a big budget film along the lines of something like Avatar or Blade Runner 2049, but the science-fiction aspect is core to the movie’s conception.  It feels like most science-fiction has been pigeonholed into “blockbuster mentality” so it is nice to see a smaller and more intimate sci-fi movie even if it is flawed at points.

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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