“Midnight Sky” opens with Augustine (George Clooney) in a sterile environment – the Barbeau Observatory in the Arctic Circle. It is February 2049, three weeks after the “event”, and he is alone, supervising the spaceship Ether. The crew returns home after a two-year mission to see if planet K23 “would be our future.” (Things did not go as planned).
However, when crew member Ether Sully (Felicity Jones) fails to make contact with NASA and the ship veers off course, Augustine decides she has to fly over the frozen tundra to a weather station to make contact because planet Earth, as Augustine tells Sully, ” We didn’t take care of it until you were gone. “
This story, based on Lily Brooks-Dalton’s book “Good Morning, Midnight,” may be an interesting consideration of this apocalyptic scenario. But Clooney, who directs here, does not generate a pulse or a point. His film has some visual flair, but too few emotionally interesting moments. “Midnight Sky” is mostly a boring thing.
One of the problems is that Augustine is more interesting than the story he is in. Flashback reveals him as a smart young scientist (Ethan Peck) who sabotaged a relationship with a woman he loved (Sophie Rundel). Maybe that’s why he’s now a lonely loner who drinks whiskey pills, gives him a blood transfusion, and vomits every night.
But the plot makes him realize that he is not alone. A young mute girl, Iris (Caoilinn Springall), was hiding in the observatory. He shows her where to sleep, but she comes and stays in his room. She throws peas at him over dinner to get his attention and at one point laughs. c.
It’s just a little more exciting (non) action on Ether. Sully is pregnant by Commander Tom Adewole (David Oyelowo), and among the crew members – Mitchell (Kyle Chandler), Sanchez (Demián Bichir) and Maya (Tiffany Boone) – there is an endless, embarrassing joke about how to name a child.
“Midnight Sky” features some impressive CGIs, and a bit of brilliant technology is shown in the three-dimensional map that Augustine consults and the “virtual” experiences Mitchell and Maya have with their families.
However, the film won’t actually come to life until the sequence after going into space late in the film, when the character suffered an injury and blood floats in a zero-gravity atmosphere. (Another great visual). Alas, this episode, which generates real drama, comes after a painful single alongside Neil Diamond’s “Sweet Caroline” that most viewers will find “charming”. (Could there be a moratorium on the use of that earworm in cinema?)
Alas, a good part of the first half of the film shows Augustine and Iris’s arduous journey through the Arctic tundra and is not tense but evokes sleep. There is an unusual scene as Augustine confronts a dying man and a surreal moment when a safe place for shelter proves otherwise. But these set parts are not very convincing. Yes, at one point there is a beautiful underwater sequence, but viewers may be focusing on the cold, winter atmosphere and wondering why Augustine and Iris don’t wear any face protection. Their series lost among the wind and snow, unable to see cause surprisingly little concern even when the shadow of the animal suggests danger.
Mark L. Smith’s screenplay doesn’t give birth to a lot of characters, although the dialogue is sometimes quite didactic. The debate the Ether crew is having about slinging back into space is so well known that it revolves around. Likewise, when Maya expresses concern about her first spacewalk, what is expected.
Equally bad is Alexander Desplat’s music, which is often intrusive and is used during touching or intense moments to tell viewers what to feel.
The film’s narrative flaws point to the fact that Clooney is no less certain here as a director. He performs a decent performance as a man haunted by his past, so it’s not like he can’t relate to the material. But the film doesn’t give the other actors a lot of work. Jones, Oyelowo, and Bichir seem to have been wasted doing undecided work. Watching Sully and Tom play cards is the highlight, if only because the two actors are trying to create some chemistry. Sanchez makes a decision late in the film that comes out of nowhere, until it is explained didactically and then his decision feels forced.
“Midnight Sky” thrives in one beautiful, sentimental moment – an unusually soulful exchange between Augustine and Sully – but Clooney upgrades it almost by accident. Still, it shows what this vague film could have been like.
“The Midnight Sky” is available for streaming from Wednesday, December 23 on Netflix.