It’s 2049 and while the rest of Earth is being consumed by radiation, Augustine Lofthouse mans the last remaining outpost deep in the Arctic Circle. Other scientists fled to be with families in their final moments but Augustine stayed behind. He didn’t have any family to go to. His work was his family.
Deep into outer space a crew are on their return from a distant Jupiter moon. Their mission was to explore a potential new home for human civilization, a project originated from the mind of Augustine, and, while the crew aboard the Aether got the answers that they were hoping for, it was all too late. Earth has been ravaged by radiation and Dr Lofthouse must now try to contact the crew to get them to turn back around. It’s humanity’s only hope.
While that reads like the stakes couldn’t be higher for Augustine Lofthouse (George Clooney) and the distant crew that he hopes to contact, The Midnight Sky never really hits home emotionally to get you on the edge of your seat. Further characterization might have gone a long way from this Sci-Fi epic feeling distant and cold at times. While The Midnight Sky does try to deliver that emotional gut punch, it’s all a little too late.
Speaking of punches, it can’t be helped feeling that The Midnight Sky pulls it’s punches when it comes to the moral dilemmas and dire situations at hand. Often leaning towards a lighter tone at times, you do wonder whether the experience might have become greater than the sum of it’s parts with a little more grit and darkness. The Midnight Sky never really edges on thriller territory and, while it might be my personal taste, you too might hope for that level of conflict and maturity.
Technically, however, The Midnight Sky is a resounding triumph. Whether it is Alexandre Desplat’s thunderous but often melancholic score or the VFX work that mirrors some of the best most recent Sci-Fi epics. Although The Midnight Sky lands on streaming giant Netflix it does feel like with the film’s technical prowess, it would have benefited from the big screen experience.
Sitting not only in the Director’s chair but also leading the show, The Midnight Sky truly rests on the shoulders of George Clooney. His desperate but brilliant scientist grips you from his very first grunt. Sadly, the same couldn’t be said for the rest of the cast. With such wonderful talent like Felicity Jones, David Oyelowo and everyone’s favourite father figure Kyle Chandler, you can’t help but feel that potential was missed out on.
The appetite for post-apocalyptic tales of humanity’s survival may be at an all time low in 2020 but that isn’t to say that The Midnight Sky isn’t worth watching. It might not hit the heart pounding heights of Gravity or Ad Astra but The Midnight Sky is an entertaining watch with exciting visuals and strong throwbacks to Sci-Fi films of old.
By Jordan Barrett
Available to stream on Netflix