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MIDNIGHT SPECIAL (Read 1117 times)
Mar 30th, 2016 at 2:07pm

L.A. Connection   Offline
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MIDNIGHT SPECIAL is another entry in the ever-growing 'Sci-Fi lite' category. Movies which have fantastic elements, yet seem much more concerned with 'real world' drama than science fiction - ANOTHER EARTH, MELANCHOLIA, SAFETY NOT GUARANTEED, SOUND OF MY VOICE, COMPUTER CHESS etc.. More to the point here, the director is Jeff Nichols who made TAKE SHELTER.

Like TAKE SHELTER, the star is the superb Michael Shannon -- although MIDNIGHT's main focus is on the character of the son Alton (Jaeden Lieberher). Alton is a kid with special powers who, of course, the government is hunting down. Shannon is joined by a cop buddy (Joel Edgerton) and his wife (Kirsten Dunst) as they try and protect the boy.

There are other complications that take up the first half to two-thirds of the movie. And, that's one of the biggest difficulties in enjoying MIDNIGHT. Nichols seems to be a filmmaker who likes to draw things out and hide basic info from his audience as long as possible. Although there are more on-screen manifestations of the paranormal here than in TAKE SHELTER ($18M of Warner Brothers money helps), Nichols seems ever determined to keep his viewers guessing. Even his more mainstream MUD metered out basic details in dribs and drabs. That's fine as far as it goes. With all the lame hit you over the head blockbusters out there, a little subtlety is welcome. MIDNIGHT SPECIAL pays off decently in the end, but, like TAKE SHELTER, the conclusion seems out of proportion to the amount of build-up (MUD admirably succeeds all around).

Odd thing, too, is that MIDNIGHT SPECIAL essentially uses the structure of John Carpenter's STARMAN (right down to the scientist who goes rogue, Adam Driver, filling in for Charles Martin Smith)*. But, whereas that movie is a model for get-to-the point pathos, MIDNIGHT often seems like abstraction for abstraction's sake. The acting is good. The movie works in the end. But, like TAKE SHELTER, I felt more frustrated than edified when it was over.


* In interviews, Nichols acknowledges his debt to STARMAN.


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« Last Edit: Apr 2nd, 2016 at 3:54pm by L.A. Connection »  
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