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.
George Clooney’s latest film is a philosophical science fiction movie that ponders some of the biggest themes of all, with the focus on a group of astronauts stranded as the earth as we know it falls apart. Clooney stars as well as directs as Augustine, an ambitious scientist whose life’s work has been to search for habitable planets for the human race to expand. After some initial scene setting (which is important in so much as it makes a later development blatantly obvious), we move to 2049 where a dying Augustine refuses to leave his base in the Arctic after a cataclysmic event wipes out most of humanity. He spends his final days attempting to contact any space ships to warn them not to return to earth, and this brings him into contact with the Æther, a ship returning from Jupiter.
As an actor Clooney has explored this genre before in films such as ‘Solaris’ and ‘Gravity’, and this feels like his attempt to put his own stamp on the genre, but it’s only partly successful. There’s a fine line between being influenced by other films and essentially copying them, and unfortunately ‘The Midnight Sky’ feels like it has cherrypicked the best aspects of better sci-fi movies, with the hope that cobbling them together into one film will create a standout film in its own right. That isn’t the case and my main thoughts whilst watching ‘The Midnight Sky’ was that I’d rather be watching some of these better films than this. That’s not to say there isn’t any merit in ‘The Midnight Sky’ and I do think where it partially succeeds is in drawing out the emotion of a situation where the characters have to come to terms with loss, loneliness and the death of the planet they call home – it’s heavy, weighty material and it’s mostly handled well although attempts to insert a personal element feel like a poor man’s version at aping ‘Interstellar’ (a film itself, that isn’t perfect in my opinion).
Joining Clooney in the film are several crew members of the Æther, including a married couple played by Felicity Jones and David Oyelowo, and Demian Bichir and Kyle Chandler who have some strong moments themselves. In Jones case it’s worth pointing out that she was pregnant during filming and instead of postponing, Clooney built her pregnancy into the plot – this works well from a plot perspective (surely this is a risk on a long term space mission!?) and is a progressive development in terms of filmmaking as a whole.
‘The Midnight Sky’ is an ambitious film with honourable intentions but in his attempts to use the best science fiction of the past to build a film to stand up with the greats, it finds itself falling considerably short.
Directed By: George Clooney
Starring: George Clooney, Felicity Jones, David Oyelowo, Ethan Peck, Tiffany Boone, Demian Bichir, Kyle Chandler, Sophie Rundle, Tim Russ, Caoillin Springall and Miriam Shor