Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Midnight Special (2016): Review

Midnight Special is a 2016 science fiction film. Directed by Jeff Nichols (Take Shelter, Mud) and starring Michael Shannon (Bug), Joel Edgerton (Animal Kingdom), Adam Driver (The Force Awakens) and newcomer Jaeden Lieberher (St Vincent) . This is Nichols fourth feature film and the fourth to feature Michael Shannon.

The film revolves around “special” child Alton (Lieberher) as he flees a Texas cult with his father Roy (Shannon) and family friend Lucas (Edgerton). After an FBI operation storms the cult, led by Sevier (Driver), we learn that Alton has unique powers including being able to predict the end of the world from government satellite data. Along with Alton’s mother Sarah (Kirstin Dunst) the group are chased across the state by FBI and cult members alike as Alton’s health begins to deteriorate rapidly. With a little help from Sevier, Sarah and Alton are able make it to a set of co-ordinates and we finally find out what happens on the 6th March.

Nichols himself has stated the vastly underrated Starman (1983) as a major influence on this film and the presence of John Carpenter and Steven Spielberg is felt throughout. However, unlike Starman, Nichols chooses to start the film with Alton already on the run and maintains this tense, nostalgic chase feel throughout the film. The film also feels a lot like A.I (2001), another underrated piece, and the talented young Lieberher provides the central performance that really draws you in (much like the young Haley Joel Osment).

The supporting cast are also excellent in the form of the always reliable Michael Shannon and Joel Edgerton and Adam Driver turns in a very timely subtle performance to counter balance his recent turn as pantomime villain in Star Wars. Nichols direction is impeccable and the cinematography and use of light easily puts this film up with the best of Spielberg and Carpenter, visually speaking. That being said, the script is no slouch either and manages to create a genuine, sentimental tone (but not sugary) to a film that is essentially about a boy that can shoot lasers out of his eyes and bring satellites crashing to earth with an emotion.

A rare example of a thoughtful and original sci fi film that weaves mystery around a solid emotional core. Midnight special captures the mood of Carpenter and Amlin films without becoming a pastiche and is able to tell a fresh and intriguing story through rose tinted glasses (much like JJ Abrams' Super 8). Nichols continues to prove he is an indy filmmaker with an ambitious vision and Midnight Special may just prove to be one of the best sci fi films of the year.

**** 4 Stars

What did you think of the film? Does it borrow too much from older films?


Post a Comment