April 29, 2016

Theatrical Review: Midnight Special (2016)

"Starman + Firestarter + E.T. = Midnight Special. Kinda."

(aka Starkid.)
Release Date: March 18th (limited.)
Country: USA.
Rating: PG-13.
Written by: Jeff Nichols.  
Directed by: Jeff Nichols.
Starring: Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst, Adam Driver, Jaeden Lieberher, and Sam Shepard.

I was originally not going to review this movie, for reasons, but ultimately decided to do a short write-up instead of nothing at all.

Two men are on the run with an 8-year-old kid, after fleeing a cult. An Amber Alert has been issued, and so not only is the cult (and its hitmen) hot on their trail, but so are the Cops. They have to get the boy to a specific location at a specific time, because they believe that something special is going to happen.

What's so special about this kid, you ask? I don't know, but he hates the sunlight, can sense things with his mind, and shoots lasers out of his eyes. So that probably explains why the Government wants to weaponize him. Did I mention that the kid is dying? Because he is.

Was that vague enough for you? Good, because we don't want to spoil anything for you.

Watching Midnight Special was an odd experience for me.

I found it to be a really solid Sci-Fi Thriller that was gorgeously rendered and had me guessing all the way through, but at the same time, I wanted more of an emotional punch from it that I never got. Michael Shannon is brilliant as the tortured father who is racing against time to save the life of his kid, who may be some sort of alien/messiah/mutant or something, but their story didn't frigging move me like it should have.

I bought into it, and I loved a lot of it, but it just felt like something was missing. Maybe the payoff didn't answer enough of my questions, or was just too underwhelming... I'm honestly not sure. Maybe on a second watch it'll grab me more.

The cast in this one is great. Like the aforementioned Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton was his usual excellent self here. Those two could make movies together for the next 10 years and I'd be fine with that. Kirsten Dunst was also solid, and was the ever-excellent Sam Shepard.

Not as good as writer/director Mike Nichols' previous efforts, Mud and Take Shelter, Midnight Special feels like a a step back for the filmmaker, even if it's only a very small one. But it's still really good. See how confused it left me? That's why I didn't want to write it up!

We are not alone in the universe. Also, Kirsten Dunst looks hot even when she's dressed like a frumpy spinster.

I know that it sounds like Midnight Special was too much of a mixed bag to deserve a B+ grade, and it kinda is, but its good parts worked really well and kept me engaged, so it really was a B+ sort of affair overall. I think.

This one has me truly conflicted, but I'd definitely recommend that Sci-Fi fans give it a watch, even if you wait until it hits VOD, which should be fairly soon. We'll be watching it again, to try and sort our our feelings about it.


Midnight Special is in theaters now.

Kirsten Dunst... KIRSTEN DUNST!!!


  1. That second pic of Kristen wants me to donate more than just blood to the Red Cross. :)

  2. I know what you mean. "Mud" had such an emotional punch to it and I didn't quite get that in Midnight Special. I know the film embraces its own ambiguity, but I wanted more out of the climax/resolution. Still an interesting flick though.

  3. Didn't absolutely love it, but still liked it a lot. Mostly for the mood and atmosphere. I was reminded not only of STARMAN and FIRESTARTER, but also of MARTIAN CHILD starring John Cusack.
    On a side not: I'd watch anything with Michael Shannon in it. He's one of my favorite actors. And yes, I've sat through crap like THE NIGHT BEFORE or KANGAROO JACK just for him.

    1. Agreed. How great was Shannon in Premium Rush?! I actually thought that movie was fine. No problems with it.

  4. I wasn't in the mood, apparently. For me, this was a dull movie, bored me to tears, literally. I can' see this turning into a classic like E.T. but who am I?

    The acting of the boys were great, though. Kirsten Dunst didn't have much to do, in my opinion but at least she didn't embarassed herself.