Another George Clooney Space Movie | “The Midnight Sky” 2020 Netflix Movie  Review – InReview: Reviews, Commentary and More
The Midnight Sky – 2020

Director George Clooney
Screenplay Mark L. Smith based on Good Morning Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton
Starring George Clooney, Felicity Jones, David Oyelowo, Tiffany Boone, Demián Bichir, Kyle Chandler, Caoilinn Springall, Sophie Rundle, Ethan Peck

The 7th directorial effort by George Clooney is a beautiful, boring, and predictable story that skips the exciting parts, instead focusing on dread, misery and fading hope in the light of humanity. It is the type of film designed to be called brave, but is more an exercise of muscles that are best left unflexed.

The story focuses on a scientist named Augustine Lofthouse (Clooney, Peck) who discovers that life might be possible in a newly discovered moon of Jupiter called K-23. Forward 30 years and multiple space journeys have been undertaken by humanity. Clooney’s Lofthouse, requiring dialysis, stays behind in an observatory in the North Pole. Soon, it is revealed that a non-specific cataclysmic event has made earth uninhabitable, so he reaches out. He sees that one mission, called Æther, is still online, but unreachable. Just about the same time, a young girl named Iris (Springall), who doesn’t speak, shows up.

Throughout the film, we see flashbacks to a younger Lofthouse, a former love (Rundle) and a child he never met. Ebert’s Law of Economy of Characters makes it clear what is happening at all times when it comes to the interwoven stories. We get that the arrogant, seemingly heartless Lofthouse of youth has been replaced by a more humble and hopeless and grizzled person later. The young Iris is a lifeline that gives the Clooney’s character a flicker of hope.

The space travelers have nothing much in the way of personality. We know there is a commander (Oyelowo, a hotshot pilot (Chandler), the seasoned vet (Bichir), the rookie (Boone) and pregnant Sullivan (Jones). They have already landed on the moon and found it habitable. This is their trip back.

Lofthouse decides to make a run for another observatory in order to make contact with the Æther. The race is to get to them before they try to land. Though it’s pretty obvious what the score is to anyone approaching the planet. What happens subsequently has been done better before.

There are some nice moments that are not followed up on, like exploring the livability of K-23. We don’t know enough of our astronauts to be invested in their success or failure, other than the thought that they could be the last of humanity. If this is so, the decisions of team members late in the film make little sense, overall.

This is a nice cast. The premise is interesting, only the choices of narrative feel like overwrought and overly tread upon. It feels like Clooney really believes there is a story, here. If the state of his mind were more clearly pushed in a direction beyond one ship and if that ship and its mission explored in an interesting way, perhaps it would be worth believing.

(** out of *****)

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