Duration: 122 Minutes
Genre: Sci-Fi / Science Fiction
Director: George Clooney
Screenplay: Mark L. Smith
Based On: Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton
Producer: Grant Heslov, George Clooney, Keith Redmon, Bard Dorros, Cliff Roberts
Music: Alexandre Desplat
Cinematography: Martin Ruhe
Editing: Stephen Mirrione
Released On: 11 December 2020 (United States), 23 December 2020 (India)
Star Cast: George Clooney, Felicity Jones, David Oyelowo, Tiffany Boone, Demián Bichir, Kyle Chandler, Caoilinn Springall
Plot: It is the year 2049. And as very well predicated in current times, the earth has aged and now it is time for it to get vanished in the unfathomably vast universe. Something very ungodly is about to happen but Aether is out in the orbits about to reach the earth and someone has to warn them, someone has to tell them about what is happening on the earth.
Aether is a spaceship returning from a mission to explore a potentially habitable moon of Jupiter. Augustine Lofthouse (George Clooney), an astronomer is stationed at an observatory in far-northern Canada, inside the Arctic Circle. Given the events, Augustine’s research colleagues are being evacuated by plane to their homes. But he alone has decided to remain. It is not that he is bound by an unreasonable sense of duty, or is simply foolhardy, as one of his co-workers suggests to the scientist.
If our protagonist, who appears to have a serious illness, were “in a hurry to die,” Augustine responds, he would be leaving with the others. Rather, it is that Augustine, having spent his life as an explorer — albeit a vicarious, earthbound one — has nothing and nobody to go back to.
The crew members on the Aether - Felicity Jones, David Oyelowo, Kyle Chandler, Demián Bechír and Tiffany Boone - have lost their communication with Earth and they need to be warned not to come back.
While Augustine is in the midst of figuring of how to deal with the situation at hand a second problem in the appearance of a small, apparently mute girl (Caoilinn Springall), who seems to have been left behind in the rush to evacuate appears in the observatory. Dubbed Iris, after a drawing she makes of the flower, the child becomes Augustine’s responsibility.
After the antenna at the observatory proves inadequate to connect with the Aether, only one way remains to make a connection with Aether, which is to reach to the stronger antenna, some distance away. He makes it his mission to warn the crew members on Aether to turn around and go back to the planet they were already scouting to take the future of the human race.
How these two things are related is only gradually disclosed, in a story that jumps between the Arctic, the Aether and the past, where one can see, in flashback, a younger Augustine (Ethan Peck) set up the idea of exploring the planets in search of a second home for Man, who, it is implied, hasn’t taken care of his first one. The idea that Augustine was a catalyst in sending the Aether off — is only part of a story that peels itself like an onion — and just as surely produces tears!
Review: The movie ‘The Midnight Sky’ is a dystopian sci-fi drama based on Lily Brooks-Dalton's novel Good Morning, Midnight. George Clooney has hopped on to the director's chair for the seventh time in this movie. Clooney plays Augustine Lofthouse, a ‘lone scientist in the Arctic’ determined to save a crew of astronauts returning home to a ‘mysterious global catastrophe’.
The two-time Oscar-winner George Clooney throughout his star-studded career has been known and received well for being an incredible actor, but a mediocre director. This movie does not change that perception. This reputation once again holds true with his latest project, The Midnight Sky, which he both helms and stars in.
Most critics have pointed out that the film appears "derivative" and harks back to too many films of the genre, be it “Gravity” or “The Martian”. Others have dubbed it antiseptic and sterile without the emotional heft required for the audience to invest in the characters' journey.
The general problem that a viewer faces is that the movie tries to squeeze far too much into its two-hour runtime. On one hand, there is this group of astronauts overcoming an intergalactic obstacle course to return home parallelly Augustine is troubled by his past as he forms a father-daughter relationship with Iris. Except for charming scenes where the astronomer and the girl play with their food and the crew sings a joyous rendition of Sweet Caroline, the audience does not get a chance to get to know any of these figures on the screen.
On the surface, it looks like there is a lot to unpack in this Netflix Original. However, underneath all the shiny visuals and lip service to concepts that other modern sci-fi epics have handled with more finesse, this flick is remarkably shallow in its execution.
There are some incredible moments like the falling into icy waters or being caught in a meteor storm, but they are so short-lived that these sequences bring absolutely nothing to the table. Instead of meaningful character-building, the narrative is structured around short moments of inconsequential action that’s over before any stakes can be set.
In fact, ‘The Midnight Sky’ would have benefited greatly if Augustine’s plotline was cut completely. Most of the time, the movie drifts like space debris between its three settings—Arctic, the shuttle and the flashbacks—instead of feeling like it's building momentum. It is like Clooney the director was so concerned about adequately conveying the details of each part of his story that he never broke down the meaning of them or the characters involved. The movie apparently has no oxygen and no heartbeat. It’s as weightless as space.