The Midnight Sky: Netflix Film Review

The Midnight Sky

I love a sci-fi film and always want to see the latest Hollywood offering so naturally, I was excited for George Clooney‘s latest directorial effort, The Midnight Sky, which debuts on Netflix on Wednesday.

Clooney plays Augustine Lofthouse, a scientist whose life ambition was to find hospitable planets where humanity could expand. The main action takes place in 2049, three weeks after “The Event”. Augustine is sick and alone in an observatory in the Arctic Circle as he refused to evacuate with the rest of the team. One day he discovers a young girl named Iris (Caoilinn Springall), presumably left behind following the evacuation, and together they must venture across the treacherous terrain to get to a weather station farther north as it has a better antenna for him to reach the last active space mission – Aether. The Aether crew – featuring Commander Gordon Adewole (David Oyelowo), Sully (Felicity Jones), Maya (Tiffany Boone), Mitchell (Kyle Chandler), and Sanchez (Demian Bichir) – are heading back to Earth from Jupiter following a successful mission to the habitable moon K-23 and have no idea of the global catastrophe that’s taken place.

I was fully excited by the premise for The Midnight Sky, a movie adaptation of Good Morning, Midnight by Lily-Brooks Dalton, and I came away so disappointed. Considering this film is supposed to depict a race against time, there is a surprising lack of urgency to it and the pacing is dreadfully slow. I held out hope for the moment when it would eventually pick up the pace to reach a thrilling climax, but it doesn’t. There are a couple of big moments that should have had a dramatic impact yet they aren’t told with much emotional clout, just the cinematic equivalent of a shrug. Everything is so bizarrely underplayed.

It is also frustratingly vague. Mark L. Smith‘s screenplay holds back so much information that it was hard to care about anyone or their situation. We aren’t given any details about The Event so we have to draw our own conclusions and I had so many questions about Augustine – Why he is at the observatory? What is his role? Why didn’t he evacuate? What illness is he suffering from? We get a couple of flashbacks about his past but they’re still not enough. I also had so much I wanted to know about the Aether mission and his trek to the weather station as well, but again, we are offered so little.

I can’t fault Clooney’s performance, he convinces as the hollow-eyed miserable scientist who is truly fed up with his lot, and I also liked the visuals, the scale and ambition of the story, and Alexandre Desplat‘s score, but what a waste of a fantastic idea. So unsatisfying.

Streaming on Netflix from Wednesday 23rd December

Rating: 2.5 out of 5.