‘The Midnight Sky’ Movie Review: George Clooney Doesn’t Quite Out Gravity ‘Gravity’
George Clooney in another space movie certainly raises hopes for another Gravity. This time, he’s not the astronaut, but he is the director so there is a throughline from his last space movie. Though The Midnight Sky isn’t quite as memorable, there are enough thrilling sequences to hold Netflix viewers’ attention.
George Clooney gazes at ‘The Midnight Sky’
Augustine (Clooney) is the last scientist at the Barbeau observatory in the Arctic Circle. An extinction level event has occurred only three weeks ago, one for which flashbacks show young Augustine (Ethan Peck) had been preparing. Several missions voyaged to a newly discovered moon of Jupiter in hopes of continuing life there.
Now Augustine hasn’t heard from any of the ships in a while until the Aether contacts him. They have lost radio contact with Earth so they don’t even know it’s all over down here. Augustine also discovers a stowaway, Iris (Caoillinn Springall), with him at Barbeau, complicating things for him.
‘The Midnight Sky’ shifts focus
For the first half, The Midnight Sky balances between Barbeau, Aether and flashbacks to Augustine’s past. The flashbacks are the weakest leg of the triangle, serving only to show Augustine’s difficulties connecting with people. Any exposition they provide is extraneous. We get that Barbeau is the last outpost and Aether may be the last ship out there.
There are some exciting moments on the ground in which Augustine has to survive and protect Iris from the natural elements. About halfway through The Midnight Sky, focus shifts to Aether. If you weren’t into Augustine and Iris, that’s good. If you were, that’s bad. And if you’re indifferent, that’s a shortcoming of the film.
George Clooney back in space
The Aether scenes do provide The Midnight Sky the most excitement. Space hail storms cause problems for Aether more than once. There’s a space walk to repair the radar and a space wound sequence that’s unique to any previous space movie. Clooney doesn’t quite out-Gravity Gravity, but there are some tense sequences in space.
You do get to know the Aether crew. Sullivan (Felicity Jones) and Ade (David Oyelowo) are having a child together, adding tension when a pregnant Sullivan puts on a space suit. Maya (Tiffany Boone), Mitchell (Kyle Chandler) and Sanchez (Demián Bichir) all have enough inner life to make them feel like both a crew and individuals.
Given the balance issues, The Midnight Sky can’t really afford to overreach in the ending, yet it does. If the film had held you until then, perhaps it wouldn’t be enough to sully the experience. Since it’s uneven getting there, perhaps there won’t be enough investment for the end to be egregious. Despite some of those problems, The Midnight Sky is never boring, and it may be enough for star-powered holiday content.