Review of The Midnight Sky

Photo+courtesy+of+Greg+Rakozy+on+Unsplash

Photo courtesy of Greg Rakozy on Unsplash

Shevany Moharir, Editorial Board

In 2049, Earth is overcome by a natural disaster leaving toxic radiation on its surface and forcing the entire human population to evacuate immediately. Scientist Augustine Lofthouse (George Clooney), decides to stay back, knowing his illness will overtake his life soon. 

As he remains in his Arctic base, Lofthouse discovers another space mission is still making its way back to Earth aboard the Aether after a two-year-long trek to K-13, Jupiter’s habitable moon. The crew, led by Dr. Sullivan (Felicity Jones), is unaware of the catastrophe since losing signal with space command. Lofthouse discovers a young girl named Iris who was left behind and doesn’t speak. The duo travel to another base farther north which has a satellite powerful enough to make contact with the Aether who are simultaneously trying to get back home.

Directed by Clooney himself, Netflix’s The Midnight Sky is almost exactly what one would expect from science fiction, space-age films that have dominated the box office for the past several years. In fact, Clooney has said that he drew inspiration from his own 2013 film Gravity as well as Interstellar (2014) and The Martian (2015). Unlike its predecessors, however,  The Midnight Sky lacks the action-packed scenes which made those films appealing to a large audience and so successful. Instead, Clooney relies on the emotional aspect of a dying scientist and his care for the young girl who is truly the heart of the film.

While true science fiction fans may appreciate the traditional space narrative told through excellent cinematography, to the average viewer, it may not be as appealing. The peaceful and serene nature of the movie’s anti-rescue plot makes for a film that is good to look at, but hard to swallow. In many ways, the film aimed to be a realistic depiction of a man who is just trying to survive. There are no true antagonists or major subplots making the concept clear, but unlike other films in this genre, it doesn’t necessarily keep its audience on the edge of their seat. 

The movie definitely played on the strength of its cast, keeping the number of characters low. The quarrels and friendly banter of the Aether crew broke up the monotonous tone of Lofthouse and Iris’ journey. Watching a group of astronauts come up with baby names for “Sully” is something unexpected, yet refreshing, from a film of this nature. And when there is not much of a driving plot for these characters, other than traveling back to Earth, scenes like this are almost necessary in order for the audience to appreciate the characters and not necessarily where they are or what they are doing.

Overall, The Midnight Sky is a decent film for anyone looking for a slow-paced and thought-provoking movie. George Clooney fans may appreciate his heavy screen time in another serious, emotional role. However, to the average viewer, the movie lacks the hooking development that has kept the space-age, science fiction genre at the top of the box office for the past few years. 

 

Final rating: 6/10