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REVIEW: The Midnight Sky

The Midnight Sky is a science fiction film directed by George Clooney, the latest in a long line of Netflix originals to hit our screens, based on the 2016 book ‘Good Morning, Midnight’ by Lily Brooks-Dalton. George Clooney plays Augustine, who encounters young girl Iris (the adorable Caoilinn Springall) after remaining on earth following a global apocalypse. Together they must travel across the Arctic to reach a weather station that will allow them to warn returning spaceship, the Aether, captained by Adewole (David Oyelowo) and crewed by Sully (Felicity Jones), Mitchell (Kyle Chandler), Sanchez (Demián Bichir) and Maya (Tiffany Boone).

The trailer for this had me concerned. It looked very similar to many other sci-fi/end of the world films (think Sunshine, Interstellar, even The Day After Tomorrow) and nothing about it looked particularly original. I had hoped that the trailer might be misleading, but I’m afraid to say that this is every bit as lacklustre and predictable as the trailer implied.

Visually this looks stunning, both the set design and the special effects have obviously had a decent amount of time and money invested in them. Alongside this, Alexandre Desplat’s score is beautifully ephemeral and haunting, and accompanies the story well, feeling very in keeping with both the Arctic and the space settings. And aside from a decent cast, I’m afraid these are the only good things I can say about this film. The main problem is the story itself, it’s entirely predictable and suffers from every space and sci-fi mishap you could ever think of, from unexplainable drifting off course to the destruction of important equipment (comms of course, would you expect any less?) due to an unpredicted meteor strike. And this clichéd predictability just makes the story so dull and drawn out over its two hour runtime. 

To be honest, the whole film itself and the actions of the characters just doesn’t make any sense. You have a pregnant astronaut, who has virtually no sexual chemistry with the man she’s having a baby with, and who’s allowed to go outside into space with little concern over her or her baby’s well-being. A scientist who falls into sub-zero Arctic water which appears to have little impact on his health. And a child walking around in a summer dress with bare legs in the Arctic climate. Admittedly this latter point is addressed towards the end of the film in a rather obvious and over used plot twist, which is still rather unsatisfying. There’s also the large number of unexplained plot points. I’m all for keeping the watcher guessing and hate films that feel the need to over explain every aspect of the plot, but The Midnight Sky takes the opposite approach and explains barely anything. If you go into this expecting to find out what caused the radiation apocalypse or what happened to the rest of earth’s population you’ll be sorely disappointed. It also makes references to a K-23 colony ship that the Aether hasn’t heard from, yet provides no explanation or background as to the outcome of said ship, and also gives us flashbacks to Augustine’s past yet with little reason other than to provide an “A-ha” moment for the aforementioned plot twist. And the decisions made by the astronauts on the Aether once they’ve found out about Earth’s fate are just laughably ridiculous especially considering the fate of the rest of the population. 

Despite the promising cast and effects, The Midnight Sky is yet another disappointing Netflix original that is light years away from some of the more brilliant sci-fi stories that have come before it.

The Midnight Sky (2020) Drama, Fantasy, Sci-Fi | 1h 58min | 11 December 2020 (UK) 5.6
Director: George ClooneyWriters: Lily Brooks-Dalton, Mark L. SmithStars: George Clooney, Felicity Jones, David OyelowoSummary: This post-apocalyptic tale follows Augustine, a lonely scientist in the Arctic, as he races to stop Sully and her fellow astronauts from returning home to a mysterious global catastrophe.

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Sarah Clapperton
A contract manager moonlighting as a rather discerning film and book critic, with an almost fangirl appreciation for anything made by Christopher Nolan. When I'm not catching up on my latest read or watch, you can usually find me trying out my amateur baking skills - Bake Off here I come!