Tuesday, January 5, 2021
REVIEW: The Midnight Sky
Still showing at Harkins Tucson while streaming on Netflix
George Clooney’s latest directorial effort, The Midnight Sky, has been taking a bit of a drubbing from the critics. Well, actually, it’s pulling about a 52% on the Rottentomatoes meter, so that’s right down the middle.
I’m going to come down on the positive side on this one. Clooney has always been a decent director, although he’s made a clunker or two. I loved his debut, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind, and liked Good Night and Good Luck and The Ides of March. Not a huge fan of Leatherheads and Suburbicon. I felt he was riffing on his buddies the Coen Brothers a little too obviously.
The Midnight Sky is quite nice visually, well-acted by Clooney himself and, while a bit of a mishmash of films that have come before it, a generally absorbing apocalyptic science fiction thriller. Albeit, a slow-moving sci-fi thriller, much like the remake of Solaris he starred in (a vastly underrated film) with hints of Cormac McCarthy’s The Road. Hey, if you are going to borrow some elements, borrow from the good shit.
Clooney plays Augustine, a scientist left behind (on purpose) in an arctic atoll after an unexplained (but hinted nuclear) planet killing event. As one of few survivors on the planet, he starts scanning the stars for any interplanetary missions that might be unaware of the conditions of Earth. He finds one, a mission to a Jupiter moon headed by a crew consisting of Felicity Jones, David Oyelowo and Kyle Chandler. They are heading back to Earth and have no idea what has happened.
Augustine tries desperately to communicate with the mission while tending to a child (Caoilinn Springall) accidentally left behind at the facility. Their scenes together are cute, and their journey through the Arctic tundra to a working satellite dish has some tense moments (including a wolf attack and some breaking ice).