Sometimes amongst big budget movies we forget the best kind of Sci-Fi is the kind that makes you reflect on what you saw. As someone who does much existential thinking (about purpose, death, and afterlife) Midnight Special hit a chord with me that not many movies do. Much of the movie feels like a Christopher Nolan trailer, the plot is mysterious, and we don’t even have a sense of what we’re dealing with until the end. Many critics and film fans may be put off by this, but I actually love the ambiguity to it. It makes for a compelling family-focused drama. While the flaws are present, I thought Midnight Special was a beautiful movie, complete with a great premise, fantastic acting, and a thoughtful ending that most Sci-Fi fans should appreciate.
Much of the journey showcases the abilities of a child named Alton. Alton’s eyes glow, he can bring down satellites from the sky, he can speak numerous different languages, some of which aren’t known or spoken to human knowledge. Alton possesses these unique abilities and is viewed as a God. The government wants to use him, a religious cult wants to follow and praise him, his birth family just wants the best for him. The core of the story follows Alton, his mother, father, and a family friend as they dodge all oncoming forces in order to bring Alton to a destination where he may meet something.
The family affair was the highlight of the movie for me. The dynamic between Roy (Michael Shannon), Sarah (Kristen Dunst), and their son, Alton (Jaeden Lieberher). Roy is a stern man who stops at nothing to do what’s right for his son, Sarah has obviously been left out of her son’s life to an extent, and Alton is this demi-god, something supernatural but still human enough to have a lasting connection to his mother and father. Joel Edgerton plays a state patrol officer named Lucas that often goes against his fellow officers to ensure Alton’s safety along the trek. The entire film we get a strong look at these characters, their motivation for Alton, and a fitting end to each character ark.
I was puzzled by the inclusion of Adam Driver as the government official that was studying Alton throughout the movie. He does have an important role to play, but that in itself is an understatement because the character is thrown away when he could have served an even bigger purpose. My only other complaint is that Alton is worshipped by a religious cult that believes him to be a God. They pursue him for some small duration of the film, I would have liked that element more fleshed out, as the premise is pretty intriguing.
This movie isn’t for everyone, the audience will be polarized by the ending and that’s why it makes for such a compelling story. It was a hot topic to discuss amongst the preview audience. The movie doesn’t hold your hand either, which I’m a big fan of. People seemed to be lost in the interpretation of certain elements in Batman V Superman, the same will happen with Midnight Special. However, in real life, big plot elements and character motives aren’t revealed through dialogue; they’re hinted at, visually and sometimes through some dialogue if the script is written well enough. This movie gives us a beautiful family dynamic, an intriguing plot, a beautiful and unique pay off, and something that resonates in your mind.
- Michael Shannon
- Excellent Family Dynamic
- Compelling Story
- Enthralling Destination
- Slow burn, but effective
- Religious Cult Underplayed
? – Adam Driver’s Character
A solid movie that I encourage everyone to see, a good mix of classic Sci-Fi and thought provoking ideas.