To be honest with you, I’ve never watched a film that’s directed by George Clooney. There’s no real reason why I haven’t, mostly because the subject matter of his films don’t particularly speak to me. But with ‘The Midnight Sky‘ being a dystopian sci-fi drama, I figured it was time to pop my Clooney-cherry. I wish I hadn’t.
This post-apocalyptic tale follows Augustine (George Clooney), a lonely scientist in the Arctic, as he races to stop Sully (Felicity Jones) and her fellow astronauts from returning home to a mysterious global catastrophe. Clooney directs the adaptation of Lily Brooks-Dalton’s acclaimed book “Good Morning, Midnight”, but why though?! How many of you can name a film that has done the novel justice? Not many, I bet.
Listen, I didn’t hate ‘The Midnight Sky‘. I still think there was enough to keep your attention, and especially some details that’ll make Clooney’s film a possible awards-contender. But there’s something very important missing: an intriguing story. There’s basically three different story lines, that just don’t share the same rhythm nor do they feel connected in any way until the last five minutes. The flashbacks to Augustine’s life around the time he announced the discovery of a moon that could possibly become Earth 2.0, are woven in to give the not-so-surprising twist at the end more depth, but instead it feels like some cheesy early ’00s romantic drama in which we weren’t supposed to figure out certain characters are connected to one another. While in the present, scientist Clooney notices a little girl hiding in his arctic lab (don’t worry, this isn’t a spoiler, she’s literally on the poster), who is of no importance whatsoever.
The most interesting (and now I’m exaggerating) plot of the film takes place aboard a space station headed back to Earth after completing their mission. Jones gets accompanied by David Oyelowo, Kyle Chandler, Demián Bichir and Tiffany Boone, but they all just float around, while having a good time. That is until something bad happens and of course the entire mood shifts to something more depressing, as if we needed more of that in 2020. It’s hard to comment on these actor’s performances, when they weren’t given much to work with in the first place. Everything, read: the entire film, feels a bit basic. I could compliment the VFX-team, but there’s moments where the actors don’t really blend in flawlessly with their surroundings, and then there’s Alexandre Desplat‘s score which is monumental as usual, but feels ill-fitting, trying to carry the entire film on its back. And above all that, with a running time of slightly over two hours, there’s plenty that could’ve been cut to give a tighter and more compelling dystopian feel to it.
Clooney tries, but fails to move with ‘The Midnight Sky‘. The many ideas and familiar faces, feel all a bit too familiar as this melodrama borrows from one too many well known science fiction blockbusters, turning it into a modern snooze fest.
Netflix Review – ‘The Midnight Sky’
Reviewed on Netflix (releases officially 23 December 2020), December 18, 2020. Rating: M. Running time: 122 min.
PRODUCTION: A Netflix release of an Anonymous Content, Smokehouse Pictures, Truenorth Productions, Syndicate Entertainment production. Producers: George Clooney (p.g.a.), Bard Dorros, Grant Heslov (p.g.a.), Keith Redmon, Cliff Roberts. Executive producers: Greg Baxter, Barbara A. Hall, Todd Shuster.
CREW: Director: George Clooney. Screenplay: Mark L. Smith (based on the book ‘Good Morning, Midnight’ by Lily Brooks-Dalton). Editing: Stephen Mirrione. Cinematography: Martin Ruhe. Score: Alexandre Desplat.
WITH: George Clooney, Felicity Jones, David Oyelowo, Caoilinn Springall, Kyle Chandler, Demián Bichir, Tiffany Boone.