The Midnight Sky Movie Review
Director George Clooney made two half-movies and shoved them together in The Midnight Sky, a gorgeous and engaging sci-fi drama-thriller that unfortunately never comes together in the end.
Clooney also stars as Augustine, a dying scientist stationed in the Arctic who watches in despair as the Earth’s population falls victim to a global catastrophe. Alone and isolated, he seeks to contact a spacecraft on its way back from Mars to stop it from returning to Earth, which would end any hope for humanity’s future.
The Midnight Sky is in part a drama about a grumpy old man wandering across the Arctic, attempting to outrun the deadly air that kills off everything it touches. Clooney is solid in the role, though it comes at the expense of the wit and charisma audiences generally appreciate about the actor. Clooney, the director, also gets to demonstrate his eye for grandeur and scale, something that has typically and purposefully been missing from his previous efforts.
The Midnight Sky is also a space thriller, in which a crew of astronauts (played by Felicity Jones, David Oyelowo, Kyle Chandler, Damian Bichir, and Tiffany Boone) attempt to return to Earth as they face various threats, primarily in the form of meteors. It’s in these scenes that the film pulses with life, in part because of the chemistry between the talented cast as well as the more action-oriented sequences that occur.
Both storylines work well on their own, even if both have their faulty elements (the space stuff feels like Gravity-meets-The Martian, but not as thrilling nor scientifically plausible as either, whereas the Earth-bound sequences are marred by cheesy obstacles and challenges that give Clooney’s character something to do). However, when combined, they feel so disparate, so disconnected, and having so little impact on one another that as a single movie they simply don’t work.
Frankly, Clooney could have entirely cut his own scenes and he would have had a solid space-thriller on his hands; or, he could have kept things focused on himself and delivered a somber but expressive goodbye to humanity.
But together, the two parts equal less than a whole.
The Midnight Sky is a relatively entertaining and alluring sci-fi tale, but Clooney’s failure to make the proper connections between the two stories at play make it hardly a must-see experience.
Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.