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Review: Midnight Special

7 min read
Jaeden Lieberher stars in Warner Bros. Pictures' MIDNIGHT SPECIAL

Midnight Special isn’t the type of feature film that will likely get loads of attention from people. Sure, it’s a science fiction flick from one of Hollywood’s largest distributors, but it doesn’t seem to be the kind of movie that many would normally look forward to. That’s really unfortunate when you think about it, because as it turns out, this Jeff Nichols directed picture deserves some legitimate consideration to say the very least.

We find a man named Roy (Michael Shannon) on the run with his accomplice (Joel Edgerton) and young kid named Alton (Jaeden Lieberher). At the start, it looks like a typical kidnapping case with plenty of cops hunting them down. However, that view begins to shift when some people start to realize that Alton is not only Roy’s son, but he also seems to have some extraordinary powers. This creates even more interest from others, but it also puts Roy’s life on the line.

Midnight Special is a distinguishable motion picture because of the consistently steady and understated nature that’s seen throughout its duration. For this reason, it’s a piece of science fiction that works in a way that allows people to understand what’s taking place while never really giving too much away until it wants to. It’s rare to find a movie within this genre with this level of patience, and that’s not a bad thing.

That’s actually a pretty good thing to see in a way, but it also maintains an element of familiarity that viewers can recognize and feel comfortable with. I obviously can’t say how audiences will embrace this, but that fresh take being added to something many are used to can either add value or damage the experience for at least some who choose to watch this. For me, it’s certainly something I appreciate since I’m always looking for new additions in this form of entertainment.

Due to its style and approach, Midnight Special is one of those movies where you can sit back and not have to engage too much in mentally since it’s so easy going and only contains a tad bit of violence. This isn’t to say that it’s lazy or even very laid-back. It’s all just more subdued than usual.

Along with the pacing and style of Midnight Special, there is also smart casting involved here. To keep this mood and tempo, they chose to bring in Joel Edgerton as one of the main supporting characters. While I’ve never been much of a fan, he does find a role here that he’s right for. Due to his style and the lack of range that he’s shown in his career, this looks to be the most appropriate role for him to date. He may have more to offer, but giving him a more subdued and straight forward character proved fitting.

As far as Michael Shannon, well, this is sort of what he does. He’s not the comprehensively insane or smug character that he has shown the ability to play, but his role here is somewhat stable and unenthusiastic. This gives him that potentially dangerous and awkward person to star as who could end up being the kind of individual you wouldn’t want to be alone with in real life. He plays these roles well, so bringing him into Midnight Special was also a great choice along with Jaeden Lieberher and Kirsten Dunst.

Even if it doesn’t do extremely well in theaters, Midnight Special has the potential to be a movie that gains a cult following. Whether it’s soon or at some point in the future, I’m thinking it will gain some sort of fanbase and receive an enhanced reputation as time goes by. If it doesn’t, it will be a bit disappointing since its a genuine piece of cinema hoping to accomplish new things in a world where repetition is normal and even anticipated by so many of us by now.

Rating: PG-13

Director: Jeff Nichols

Michael Shannon
Joel Edgerton
Jaeden Lieberher
Kirsten Dunst
Adam Driver
Bill Camp
Scott Haze
Paul Sparks
Sam Shepard

Film Length: 112 minutes

Release Date: March 18, 2016 (Limited)

Distributor: Warner Bros. Pictures

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