Director Jeff Nichols has been one of my favourites for the last few years. The 37 year old directed hits like ‘Mud’ and ‘Take Shelter’ that have become personal favourites of mine. Having had two very strong lead performances in both his previous films, I feel like he needed that again in his new film ‘Midnight Special’. Going away from his usual method of directing, he decides to go into the sci-fi genre. ‘Midnight Special’ follows the story of a father and his son that go on the run from the government and a cult that are drawn to the son’s powers that he possesses.
Leading the acting front is the ever brilliant Michael Shannon. Playing the father in the film, he does enough to pull off a respectable performance. Unfortunately for him, his character doesn’t do a great deal that is actually interesting. So I feel his role maybe isn’t justifiable to have such a high calibre actor in a role that doesn’t offer a lot. Also co-starring are Kirsten Dunst, Joel Edgerton and Adam Driver, who again, don’t excel on the screen. They all have their purposes but again, their characters don’t have a great deal to do. Their characters could have all been played by nobodies and there wouldn’t be much difference in the performances. The stand out star of the movie is child actor Jaeden Lieberher. The young actor was brilliant in his earlier role in ‘St. Vincent’ and has proved again that the nine year old can easily out-muscle big actors on screen and steal the limelight.
‘Midnight Special’ is an interesting film to watch; at times though it bares massive resemblances to Steven Spielberg’s ‘E.T’. The boy’s powers and purpose is very much like the alien in the 1980’s classic. An extra-terrestrial from another planet wows the human race by his incredible powers, is hunted down by the federal government and is trying to find his way home. Albeit, this film is a lot more violent than ‘E.T’. It does have some differences, but with the massive similarities I did find it hard to be gripped by the storyline of the film. The Sci-Fi movie has an incredibly intriguing concept to it but it never seems to elevate. Just like a heart rate monitor, it doesn’t drop below the danger line but it never ups the ante when it desperately needs to.
I was expecting a bit more from what I saw from ‘Midnight Special’. I was hoping for a bit more especially after Jeff Nichols previous work. The bar never rises to make it a great film, but the cast do well and the story is interesting enough to warrant your £10 for your cinema ticket. Interesting use of visual work too; ‘Midnight Special’ gets 3 out of 5 stars.