There haven’t been many fully fledged sci-fi films yet in 2016, we’ve had other films with elements of the genre but none that have seemed as devoted to it as we see in ‘Midnight Special’. This film was one I knew little about before seeing it which in my book is always a positive. I was certainly intrigued by the premise and was excited to see what Jeff Nichols, writer and director, could produce here.
The film features a number of well known actors and actresses. Michael Shannon plays ‘Roy’, an escapee from an extreme religious cult and the father of ‘Alton Meyers’ the young boy at the centre of this story. ‘Alton’ is played by youngster Jaeden Lieberher who has actually starred in a number of feature films including ‘St. Vincent’ and ‘Aloha’. The chemistry that this pair have is wonderful, the father son relationship is done very well. It’s never shoved down the audiences throat but instead feels effortlessly natural which ultimately helps the narrative. Kirsten Dunst plays the mother of ‘Alton’ and also portrays a believable chemistry even if her relationship with ‘Alton’ is very much secondary to Roy’s. The three work well together and win the audience over very quickly. Supporting these characters are several others, played by Joel Edgerton and Adam Driver. Two actors who are doing very well for themselves at the minute and ‘Midnight Special’ can be another film to add to there lists of great performances as both actors contribute plenty here and blend into the story so well. Other than the cast one of the strongest elements to the film had to be the score which was created by David Wingo. His work always added to the atmosphere of the film in the right way, inserting tension, emotion or suspense just when it needed it.
The narrative of the film is simultaneously simple and complex. Not every question is explored here and some audience members will leave with a sense of; “Is that it!?’. I was satisfied by the story, it holds enough mystery for the right amount of time. Just when you think it’s still holding too much back it releases enough information to keep the viewers attention and move the story along nicely. I will admit that I thought some of the elements to the story could have been explored slightly more such as the extreme religious cult but that could have taken away from the central relationship I suppose. What I did enjoy where some of the more exciting sequences that were worked into the narrative. These are nicely spread out throughout the film and often start unannounced which I enjoyed. Largely the film looks very good and when special effects are used they are used well, there are a couple of instances towards the beginning of the film though which were more questionable. Never did this take away from the film though as in the really important moments the CGI certainly looks the part.
There is no doubt that ‘Midnight Special’ is a good film, it has a wonderful cast and an effective score. Both of these elements help to move along the story which has many layers to it, some of which are unveiled and some of which aren’t. Maybe with some more exploration into some of the elements even more engagement could have been drawn from the audience. However, I’m happy to accept the choice of focusing on the more simple aspects of the narrative as these are carried out with great care resulting in good quality sci-fi.
Rating – 8/10
Question: What’s your favourite father/son relationship in a film?
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