Midnight Special

(2016)

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Title:
Midnight Special
Release Date:
18th March 2016
Runtime:
112 min
MPAA Rating:
PG-13
Genres:
Directors:
Jeff Nichols
Writers:
Jeff Nichols
Languages:
English
Stream Quality:
1080p / 720p / 480p

Storyline

Alton Meyer is a boy unlike any other in the world with bizarrely powerful abilities and strange weaknesses. In the middle of the night, his father, Roy, spirits him away from the isolated cult that practically worships him and is determined to regain him at all costs. At the same time, Alton's abilities have been noticed by the US government as well and they are equally insistent on getting to the bottom of this mystery with Paul Sevier of the National Security Agency leading the Federal pursuit with his own questions. These rival hunts force father and son into a desperate run towards a looming date with destiny that could change everything.

Ratings

Rotten Tomatoes Critics - Certified Fresh 84%
Rotten Tomatoes Audience 70%
IMDb Rating 6.7

Casts

Movie Reviews

Reviewed by A_Different_Drummer 22nd April, 2016

wish all indies were this good...

and I can say with some certainty that Jeff Nichols has a heck of a career ahead of him. To be frank, after your first 1000 or so IMDb reviews, you get a bit cynical. You start to understand that, in spite of the hype, movies are not as good as they used to be -- more like production-line white-bread, all mapped out and pre-sold into the appropriate distribution channels before the first viewer ever even gets a look -- and that in the same time period, TV has come to surpass film in terms of quality and entertainment value. And then every now and then you get a film like Midnight Special and for a brief moment you start to think this medium might someday recapture its glory days. I am not going to tell the story or do anything which will diminish your experience, should you choose to see this film. I will simply say that, if you believe the primary goal of a movie is to hold your interest and entertain, this one does the job from the first frame to the closing credits. Boy is that refreshing! The actors -- not name actors -- were excellent. The special effects were mind-boggling, especially for an indie. The script breaks (or bends) some rules of conventional narrative but otherwise is so tight you could use it for a drum solo. Highly recommended.

Reviewed by Cinnyaste 22nd April, 2016

A Highly Disappointing SF Film Mashup

It's partially the casting, partially the direction sinking this film. Mostly it's a script cobbed together from "ET," "Starman," a dash of "CE3K," the Superman legend, "Village of the Damned," and generic child-in-jeopardy tale. That's the most amazing, and disappointing, aspect of "Midnight Special" - that the creative and original Jeff Nichols wrote a shamefully derivative script filled with plot holes large enough to fly a mothership through. After a compelling first act, "Midnight Special" turns into a boring chase/race-against-time story of an extraordinary, luminous boy with 'powers and abilities far beyond that of mortal men' sought by the Feds and a cultish church who venerate him because he speaks coordinates in tongues. This boy comes from "a world-on-world" whose inhabitants watch over us. (Given the state of the world, they're doing a crappy job.) The explanation tracks more like angels from another dimension than aliens. The boy, played by Jaeden Lieberher, fails to create sympathy through all the chaos. The wonderful Kirsten Dunst has never been more wasted in a placeholder role as the boy's mom. Shannon is his hulking father. Edgerton only serviceable as a tag along State Trooper. They dodge bullets on a lumbering path to specific Florida coordinates where the boy has a date with destiny; the merging of dimension X and our pitiful dimension. Other luminous beings spirit the boy away and POOF - the convergence disappears. Big deal! A most unsatisfying and anticlimactic end that does not inspire the wonder the special effects technicians hoped it would despite Mom's mugging at the otherworldly architecture. It might occur this is a Jesus allegory with a 'birth' of a messiah from common parents. There's not a glimmer of that (save some 'fire from Heaven'). Early on, there was promise of social commentary about our over-surveilled lives. Nope. That's not present either. Also lacking, commentary about people steeping in religious fervor to fill absences in themselves. The church members, including Sam Shepherd, are caricatures. "Midnight Special" adds neither subtext nor exposition to a story begging for some. Even the title derived from the song doesn't track. "Let the Midnight Special shine a light on me." Okay, he did shine light, but the Feds - after everyone within a hundred mile radius sees the other world - still prosecute and jail Dad and the Trooper. That we're deaf, dumb and blind in a mysterious Universe is not a lot to be left with after two hours. Too much mystery ruins a film - the slight flash of light in Dad's eyes at fade out an example. Without context, too much mystery makes "Midnight Special" an uncooked, epic misfire in this dimension or any other. Give it a pass.

Reviewed by Jeff McCaskill 21st April, 2016

Unearthly Drama with an Emotional Punch

This film really came out of nowhere for me, as a comment by a stranger I overheard in a bar drew me to this, and thank you nameless stranger with impeccable taste! This is one of those sci-fi flicks that comes along every once in a while that actually has something to say without overuse of CGI and genre tropes. I knew almost nothing about Midnight Special going in other than said comment, and I highly recommend you try to do the same. Therefore I will be as brief as possible to avoid spoilers. Roy (Michael Shannon) is on the run with his 8 year old son Alden (Jaeden Lieberher) from a religious cult that worships the boy as some sort of messiah. Also in pursuit are the FBI and NSA, who are investigating several strange phenomena connected with the child. Roy enlists childhood friend Lucas (Joel Edgerton) to help them get to a specific location on a specific date, the reasons for which are unclear but may involve some sort of otherworldly or cataclysmic event. The comparisons with Starman (1984) and Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977) are apt, but this is very definitely a different movie altogether. The actors are uniformly excellent, especially Michael Shannon, who gives another intense and believable performance as a man who would do anything for his son. A bit has been made out of how the movie ends, but personally I found it a powerful emotional pay-off that I could feel in my chest, possibly due to the nostalgic feeling this film evokes. In conclusion, go see it. A thought provoking sci-fi drama with a story to tell. A good one at that.

Reviewed by Jak 60 21st March, 2016

Beautifully filmed movie

This is a beautifully filmed movie, with outstanding photography and good acting. The way the story is delivered is also very smart: the start creates quite a lot of intrigue and mystery as you don't really understand what is happening, and where the whole thing will go. Then the ending solves beautifully these tensions, it is quite an inspiring and even almost poetic finale, with very sleek shots of the extra world. So I enjoyed quite a lot this movie, though at the end I thought the story was a bit too light, I walked away with the feeling that there were quite a few questions left open and that I would have wanted to know more....like when you finish a dinner and you're still hungry....

Reviewed by tardieu-felix 16th February, 2016

Midnight Special is definitely Special

With Midnight Special, Jeff Nichols enters the pantheon of those nostalgic American filmmakers armed with their lens flares, Pandora's boxes and deeply sentimental reasons, driven by a protective father figure and a maternal relationship to the plot itself. Lately, Christopher Nolan's Interstellar walked on the same path, and in many ways Midnight Special strangely looks like Interstellar. There's always the same contrast between gigantic and local stakes/issues that can already be found in Spielberg's filmography : on one side, humanity's fate is at stake, supervised by an omnipotent government, and on the other side it is (and perhaps only) a "family affair". David Wingo's soundtrack is electrifying, the script is intelligent enough for not telling us the whole plot and characters' background in a few lines of dialogue, and despite a half-hearted performance by Michael Shannon, who still shines in its restraint, and some facilities in scriptwriting approaching the end of the film, Midnight Special is so perfectly controlled that it would be difficult to get out of the theater unscathed.