The Midnight Sky review round-up: George Clooney's 'derivative' directorial carries 'zero emotional weight'
George Clooney's The Midnight Sky 'may have links with today's reality, but it never feels real,' critics have said.
George Clooney has hopped on to the director's chair for a seventh time in The Midnight Sky, a dystopian sci-fi drama based on Lily Brooks-Dalton's novel Good Morning, Midnight. Clooney plays Augustine Lofthouse, a "lone scientist in the Arctic" determined to save a crew of astronauts returning home to a "mysterious global catastrophe."
While the film is slated to premiere on Netflix on 23 December, the first round of critics reviews are already in. Most critics have pointed out that the film appears "derivative" and harks back to too many films of the genre, be it The Martian or Gravity. Others have dubbed it "sterile" and "antiseptic," without the emotional heft required for the audience to invest into the characters' journey.
The film also stars Felicity Jones, David Oyelowo, Caoilinn Springall, Tiffany Boone, Demian Bichir, Kyle Chandler, Sophie Rundle and Ethan Peck.
Here are some reviews
BBC: "The Midnight Sky has the sombre tone of a high-minded art-house project, it has the bland design, sentimental characterisation and flimsy plotting of a children's TV movie. The story may have links with today's reality, but it never feels real."
rogerebert.com: "There’s something so sterile and antiseptic about the space half of this film that it can’t maintain viewer interest or sympathy beyond a filmmaking exercise. It has no oxygen and no heartbeat."
Polygon: "The ticking clock makes The Midnight Sky a post-apocalyptic survivalist space film whose narrative is so overloaded that the emotional weight offers zero gravity."
Variety: "The Midnight Sky is a ponderous movie. It doesn’t pretend to be “fun,” but it’s not like it’s about much of anything either, unless you count the idea that every homegrown-apocalypse film is a Deadly Serious Warning about our ecological self-destruction."
The Guardian: "As for that alternative habitable planet, it’s quite a cliche – and rather a defeatist one, seen from an environmental standpoint in 2020 when saving our own precious planet is the priority. [George] Clooney guides the performances competently, but the story drifts pointlessly into space."
The Hollywood Reporter: [The Midnight Sky] is a desolate elegy for a diseased planet...Clooney delivers a thoughtful reflection on the toll of environmental devastation. It won't replace Good Night, and Good Luck as his best directorial effort, but this quiet, meditative new film is emotionally involving from tense start to poignant finish.
Empire: "[The Midnight Sky has]... a strong note of caution as to what the near future could look like if the environment is allowed to fester. Its disparate threads may not all quite tie together — and a big reveal near the end won’t be easily swallowed by everyone — but it’s still a moving tale, by turns muscular and poetic."
AV Club: "In some other alternate timeline, maybe this lumpy, affecting film would be received as another movie-star triumph. Here and now, it’s even more of an anomaly than Clooney himself."
Entertainment Weekly: "The film often feels less like its own distinct narrative than a sort of greatest-hits amalgam of movies like The Martian, Gravity, Interstellar, Ad Astra, and all the others that came before; one more long-haul tale of lonely astronauts and contrails in the cosmos."
Indie Wire: "The Midnight Sky works well as an epic in intimate, but frequently gets off-track when stuffing more details into a busy narrative that seems just as eager to shrug them off, right down to an inane third-act twist that upends everything leading up to it."
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