The Midnight Sky (Drama, Sci-Fi) [Based on Book] (2020)
Director: George Clooney
Writer: Mark L. Smith, Lily Brooks-Dalton (Based on book by)
Stars: George Clooney, Caoilinn Springall, Felicity Jones, David Oyelowo
The year is 2049, and Earth’s population is almost entirely wiped out. Some of the last remaining survivors are holed up in an Arctic base now evacuating, likely to K-23. This is the planet discovered by Scientist Augustine Lofthouse, the only person to stay behind due to serious illness, determined to spend his final days making sure everyone is safely evacuated and that nobody will attempt re-entering Earth’s atmosphere.
Based upon the book ‘’Good Morning, Midnight’’, and directed by George Clooney, it might be further proof of a successful directing career besides acting. Having written and directed positively received films such as ‘’The Monuments Men’’ and ‘’The Ides of March’’ amongst others.
If anything, ''The Midnight Sky'' should prove that George Clooney can both act and direct, neither aspect selling the other short. This is a film showcasing clear science fiction visuals in a combination of current-day and more futuristic backdrops. With such appealing aesthetics come several storylines, the most prominent being the somewhat clichéd tale of an older man taking care of a young girl. While ‘’The Midnight Sky’’ has different arcs, they try as hard as possible to fuse but mostly materialise as separate entities. The different parts all have a different focus, intermingling with each other here and there; the focuses are Survival, Comedy and Drama.
The guiding majority comes in the form of the dying and bemused Augustine Lofthouse, the last remaining person in the Arctic base after everyone has been evacuated. His experiences are bleak and disorganised, perhaps so, until meeting a young girl that had seemingly hidden when the others took off. Due to her, Lofthouse’s character gains some purpose despite his parts still generally being dreary. Backstory comes in the third and least important part of the movie, flashbacks of times when Earth was in slightly better shape; a younger Lofthouse lost in his work preparing for the end times all while his personal life was going in a downwards spiral. The only more upbeat and lively parts are with character Sully (Felicity Jones) along with the rest of the crew aboard her spaceship making its way back to earth from new colony K-23. Mood-wise it is inherently quite jovial but later on, takes a turn towards the dramatic as well.
Visually stunning and engaging, with brilliant acting, it is primarily the continuity and coherency that doesn’t seem to end up uniting these diverse arcs. For most, ‘’The Midnight Sky’’ ends up being too melodramatic, theatrical and mostly colourless. Despite having a conclusive ending, it doesn’t feel like what was promised. The wisest decision made here was likely to include such different storylines since just having Clooney’s character Augustine Lofthouse wander the arctic wastes would’ve bored most; it still just cannot deliver on something engaging despite the heavy sci-fi subject matter.
Like the midnight sky, a dark and desolate encounter in cinema.