Today I saw the new film from director Jeff Nichols called Midnight Special. Despite its trashy sounding title, it turns out to be a pretty good little scifi film. Like so many quality films these days some will find it boring but I thought it was great.
Midnight Special tells the story of a boy named Alton Meyer (Jaeden Lieberner) who at the start has been abducted by his father Roy (Michael Shannon) and friend Lucas (Joel Edgerton). But this is no ordinary boy. He has supernatural powers that allow him to communicate with other life forms and lands. His eyes grow strong with blue light and he overtakes buildings and homes.
He is so strong in fact that he has inspired a cult that follows his words like scripture and honors him like a God, which he kind of is in this case. The leader of the cult is named Calvin Meyer (Sam Shepherd) and he and his followers have been tracking dates Alton gives them and on an upcoming one something special is to occur. This is what inspires Roy and Lucas to take Alton from the cult.
At the same time the cult gets called in mass to a high school to be interviewed by the FBI, who are also doing their own investigation into Alton and his powers. The lead investigator is Paul Sevier (Adam Driver).
We also meet Altdon’s mother played by Kirsten Dunst in a very heartfelt believable performance- best I’ve seen from her in years.
Midnight Special is a bit of a slow burn but it builds a believable story that gives you time to contemplate what is happening. I liked all of the characters including Driver as the FBI agent (although I admit getting Kylo Ren out of my head was hard at first!). Michael Shannon is tremendous as Roy who is desperate, practical and honest at the same time. Joel Edgerton as Lucas is a new believer in Alton but fresh with conviction. They are all great.
What I liked most about this movie is the way it dives into belief and what that means for our choices. Alton is a figure of hope for all different kinds of people. For the cult who have turned him into a God, for the disaffected who still love him, for the new believers who are in awe, and for those like Sevier who believe because they have seen great things, he has impacted all of their lives in a powerful way.
All good scifi should be about something and I think this film passes the test because belief changes all of us in one way or another. Belief can even break your heart on occasion.
It’s also so beautifully filmed by Jeff Nichols and has great performances throughout. Think of it as ET without the laughs!
Overall Grade- A-
My youtube review-
5 thoughts on “Midnight Special Review”
GREAT! So glad to read from others who have seen this film. Reviewed it last week and it’s my favorite of the year so far. So many cool things under its hood. Nichols is a superb filmmaker and I hope this gets him the broader attention he deserves.
I’m so glad to hear others appreciate this slow burn scifi story. I have a feeling it’s a film that will improve on the rewatch as I have more time to contemplate it. I like that it starts right in the thick of things. You don’t get exposition or long background into characters. We start when the abduction has already taken place which keeps you guessing.
Oh, this movie came out already?