- Movie Rating -

The Midnight Sky (2020)

| January 2, 2021

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, I have not been able to go to movie theaters nor film festivals.  So now, with the help of award-season screeners, this month I am catching up.

What happened to George Clooney?  More than ten years ago he started his directorial career with two brilliant bio-pics, Confessions of a Dangerous Mind and Good Night and Good Luck.  Since then, his projects have been a long series of films of little to no significance.  Can you honestly say that his subsequent films were worth your time?  LeatherheadsThe Ides of MarchThe Monuments MenSuburbicon?

Well now, added to that mediocre mound of moribund malaise comes Midnight Sky, a promising science fiction drama that has all of the pieces and parts of a compelling movie but never seems to get off the ground and has an ending that is so unsatisfactory that you’ll wonder why anyone agreed to it.

Clooney wears many hats this time as director, co-producer and star.  As the latter, he plays Augustine Lofthouse who lives alone at a research facility in the Arctic in the future world of 2049 when the world has been depopulated by an apocalypse.  Some time ago, the other researchers fled the facility in the face of the calamity, but Augustine stayed because he was dying of cancer and figured it would be best to die here than in a world that was quickly eating itself.  Left in his cocoon to slowly die alone, his priorities change when he discovers that a young child was left alone there and he tries to signal someone, anyone who can come and get her. 

Smash cut to The Aether, a spacecraft millions of miles from Earth on a mission to find a habitable planet other than Earth.  It is commanded by Tom Adewole (Daniel Oyelowo), and his crewmates Sully (Felicity Jones), Mitchell (Kyle Chandler), Sanchez (Damien Bichir) and Maya (Tiffany Boone).  Way out there in a vast emptiness of space, they have become concerned that there has been no communication with Earth for some time.

The set up is quite intriguing, but it’s the second-act pay off that stumbles.  Suddenly determined to contact that spacecraft and find his young charge a new and suitable planet on which to live, Augustine makes this his one final mission; a race against the deterioration of his own body to make sure that this kid gets where she needs to get.  But the second act bodes of twist that I found unsatisfactory and a little silly, I won’t give it away but let’s just say that the upfront mission was better than what follows.  The movie, for me, falls apart at the end.  There’s something unfulfilled about what happens that left me shrugging my shoulders.  I’m not a cynic but I just expected more.

About the Author:

Jerry Roberts is a film critic and operator of two websites, Armchair Cinema and Armchair Oscars.
(2020) View IMDB Filed in: Sci-Fi/Fantasty