Midnight Special (2016)
Starring: Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst, Jaeden Lieberher, Adam Driver
Directed by: Jeff Nichols
Written by: Jeff Nichols
Rating: PG-13 Running Time: 1 hr. 52 min
The trailer for Midnight Special quotes a critic comparing this film to Close Encounters of the Third Kind. The seminal Spielberg sci-fi classic from 1977 that depicts first contact with alien life, and follows the people mysteriously drawn to the meeting. The trailer tells us this film is directed by Jeff Nichols, the seriously gifted filmmaker responsible for Mud and Take Shelter. And the trailers hopeful tone and focus on a young boy with special powers led me to believe something magical was about to hit our movie theaters.
Well, yes and no. Midnight Special is more mystery than magic. Jeff Nichols’ script plays its cards close to its chest, and his film tries to bring a fantastical story down to earth, with mostly dour results. I was intrigued by the premise of this story, but ultimately left wanting when the big reveal came. This film is Close Encounters lite blended with Starman for serious no nonsense science fiction fans. People who would want to see how we might actually react when the unusual knocks on our door, as opposed to moviegoers who want to be dazzled by a storyteller’s spectacular imagination on the big screen.
Don’t believe the hype, this isn’t a modern day Close Encounters. It lacks the sparkle and unabashed heart of that film. Go into this expecting a slow-burner that keeps its mysteries locked away until the third act. If you enjoyed Take Shelter, you should appreciate this Jeff Nichols project.
Despite the visual effects, this film doesn’t need to be seen in a theater. A HD screening at home will service this film decently enough.
Best Moment: << spoilers >>
I did enjoy Alton Meyer’s (Jaeden Lieberher) meeting with Sevier (Adam Driver), a specialist hired by the FBI to investigate the boy. I enjoyed Adam Driver’s performance as the voice of reason amidst the clichéd government agents who believe the boy is a weapon.