The Midnight Sky begins observing Augustine (George Clooney – Return of the Killer Tomatoes… yes, seriously!), at the Barbeau Observatory in The Arctic Circle, where we see him sat down, eating lunch on his own in this vast place, accompanied by the words, “3 weeks after the event” (of which we’ve been told nothing, so far).
Cue a brief flashback, where we see how everyone else has left the facility. Amongst the melee, however, one of the evacuees can’t find their daughter, although another member of the team assured her that the girl is already on another vehicle and safely on her way out of there.
As of yet – and for reasons unknown, Augustine, himself, has a terminal health condition, and he’s staying put, self-administering periodic blood transfusions. Perhaps he’d rather have some quiet time to himself for his remaining life, rather than stress out? In fact, ‘quiet time’ is how it’s been for me, working from home for 9 months so far, as I live on my own.
But things aren’t all sunshine and rainbows, since it’s hinted that something has led to the end of the world, so all those people who took off may have nothing left to celebrate.
To add to all that – and as shown in the trailer, and calling back to the first scene – we see Augustine is accompanied by a small girl called Iris (Caoilinn Springall, above with Clooney) who follows him round like a lapdog, but doesn’t say much. How on Earth is he going to get her back to her mother?
Flashbacks recall a time where a Augustine gives a speech as a considerably younger man, played by Ethan Peck, albeit with Clooney’s voice (making me think some CGI had been used on Clooney at first, a la The Irishman, but no, that’s not the case). He’s a scientist, talking about K-23, Jupiter’s undiscovered moon which is perhaps an alternate place to support life, albeit not a given.
Elsewhere, there’s the spacecraft Aether, on ‘Mission K-23’, heading back to Earth and will soon by within range, as they’ve been out to scout K-23 and check its viability. It has a small five-person crew, led by Sully (Felicity Jones – Rogue One: A Star Wars Story) and Adewole (David Oyelowo – Selma), which makes me wonder why spacecraft crews in films – where they’re travelling for 2 years or more – are always crazy-tiny in number?
But when it comes to addressing the bigger issues, the observatory’s antenna isn’t strong enough, so when the time comes, contact between him and the Aether isn’t going to be possible, so he needs to head for a nearby attenna which isn’t far, but the inhospitable terrain won’t make it an easy trip.
There’s also a brief moment where he makes a bowl of cereal, then turns round and realises he’s already JUST made one, and hasn’t eaten it yet. I did a similar thing with making a cup of tea. I started to put one together, then without thinking – I started again, and only realised my mistake when I spotted the first mug next to where I put the second… it’s because I had other things on my mind, and so wasn’t fully paying attention. It’s not that I’ve completely lost the plot… maybe.
Those first two were films in which he starred, but for directorial roles like The Midnight Sky, I loved his Confessions Of A Dangerous Mind, but was less enamoured with Suburbicon and The Monuments Men.
How will things end for Augustine, Iris and the crew up in the Aether spacecraft? There are some aspects it won’t take an Einstein to figure out, but in addition to the sci-fi premise, I love these sorts of films where there’s a small cast, and not an awful lot going on, because it allows the cast to act out the script, rather than letting special FX constantly do the talking.
So, lots of questions to be answered. Some, all or none will get those answers by the time the credits roll.
As such, this is once again where I seem to be out of step with what others think, since out of 500 people so far on IMDB, it’s only received a score of 5.2/10, yet I thought it was great! Plus, it features a very emphatic score from composer Alexandre Desplat (Isle Of Dogs).
There are some things I want to add, but I’ll wait until release date AND put them behind a spoiler header so you can’t read them accidentally, but given the way in which some events turn out, I do wish there was a setting on Netflix to stop the end credits being turned into a tiny box, serving only to promote something else, whilst killing the atmosphere a film or tv series can bring about.
The Midnight Sky is on Netflix from Friday December 18th, but isn’t yet available to pre-order on Blu-ray or DVD.
Check out the trailer below:
Running time: 118 minutes
Release date: December 23rd 2020
Format: 2.11:1 (ARRIRAW (4.5K) (5.1K))
Director: George Clooney
Producers: George Clooney, Bard Dorros, Grant Heslov, Keith Redmon, Cliff Roberts
Screenplay: Mark L Smith
Based on the book: Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton
Music: Alexandre Desplat
Augustine: George Clooney
Sully: Felicity Jones
Adewole: David Oyelowo
Iris: Caoilinn Springall
Mitchell: Kyle Chandler
Sanchez: Damian Bichir
Maya: Tiffany Boone
Jean: Sophie Rundle
Younger Augustine: Ethan Peck
Mason Mosley: Tim Russ
Mitchell’s Wife: Miriam Shor
Katherine (frantic Woman): Lilja Nótt
Rachel: Eysis Clacken
Jasmine: Tia Bannon
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.