Director; George Clooney. Starring; George Clooney, David Oyelowo, Felicity Jones. Rated PG-13. Color. 118 minutes.
Who would have guessed the destruction of Earth and humanity exploring space for a new home would be so unbelievably boring. Based on the Lily Brooks-Dalton novel “Good Morning, Midnight”, “The Midnight Sky” is all over the place. It contains several different plot elements, yet in the end it feels like nothing was accomplished. I don’t know if I’d rather be on the snow scorched Earth or on the space ship with a bunch of whiney astronauts playing with family holograms all day.
Clooney plays Augustine, an aging astronomer who spent his adult life obsessed with finding another planet we could inhabit as Earth is screwed. #climatechange. He is haunted by his past, particularly how he pushed away his wife because he was obsessed with his work. Flashbacks with a de-aged Clooney look absolutely ridiculous. Hollywood, stop with this de-aging stuff. It looks like crap! Just cast a younger, similar looking version of the actor. Not that complicated. Now in the present day of the film Augustine is alone at a transmission tower, playing chess and drinking himself to death. At least he thought he was alone. Back to that in a moment.
Apparently Augustine succeeded and survivors were able to find a new home on a planet called K-23. A spaceship known as ‘Aether’ has been sent back to Earth to find out what status their home planet is in. The crew is loaded with good actors, including Felicity Jones, David Oyelowo, Kyle Chandler, Demien Bichir, and Tiffany Boone. They all perform fine, but the script provides them with little to do other than wave their hands around and act chummy. The only decision actually made by the crew is when they say “Going into uncharted territory is a bad idea”. Duh!
Now back to Earth. As we said earlier, Augustine thinks he is alone until he discovers a young stowaway named Iris (Caoilinn Springall). A mute, the girl was left behind when the station was evacuated. Augustine’s main goal is to contact the Aether ship to warn them that Earth is a lost cause. The station they are currently at does not have the strength to contact the incoming ship, but there is a bigger transmission tower that should be able to. Into the frozen tundra they go. The journey is full of brooding stares until they reach a storage container and decide to stay in it overnight. The only eventful thing that happens on this trip is when the container sinks and they lose their supplies. It takes a while for Augustine to realize it’s sinking, but maybe he’s just a heavy sleeper. With an ice covered beard the two finally reach the station. I was a bit curious as to how the door was just open, but a small plot hole.
Quick to the comms, Augustine finally contacts the Aether. Right on cue, the ship gets hit with an asteroid field that cuts off communication. Fortunately it can be repaired. Three crew members go out and it is the slowest, most uninteresting space walk possibly ever. I mean you really gotta play the entire song “Sweet Caroline” while just cutting back and forth to astronauts smiling? We know the young chick is gonna die because of course there will be more asteroids as soon as they get the repairs done. Just get to it.
The mourning of the fellow officer also holds little weight as everyone starts whining about the people they’ve lost instead. Clooney is finally able to warn them that Earth is lost and they should turn back. Before they do, and spoiler alert if you are even still watching by now, Kyle Chandler’s character decides to take a ship down to “find” his wife. Cool buddy, honor your wife’s memory by just going towards your death. Demien Bichir also joins because, why not I guess? That leaves a pregnant chick and her hubby left to run an entire space station by themselves back to a planet billions of miles away. I see no chance at all of that failing…
“The Midnight Sky” is as bland as they come. Characters are archetypes with little quirks or characteristics to make them unique. Every predictable moment takes place exactly how you would expect it to happen. I will give cinematographer Martin Ruhe some creds as visually it does capture the cold vastness on Earth quite well and has his camera flowing in the spaceship sequences. But that’s about it. Do yourself a favor, do not stay up until midnight for this picture.