Tyler Ku’ulani Lopez
Midnight Special was the huge blockbuster movie released last week by Warner Brothers about some higher being that comes into contact with humans who have a hard time dealing with what they’re seeing. An alien so scary that Michael Shannon is called upon to defeat him for some reason. A movie where said alien is viewed as both a threat and a savior depending on your point of view. In fact some would say he was neither. Oh wait. It wasn’t a big budget block buster? Oh. I wonder what movie I’m thinking of…
1 – Writing: 8/10
I thought the movie was fairly well written. Glowing review, huh? Well while the story is interesting and engaging, there are so many questions that I think most audiences will leave confused instead of entertained. The dialogue between characters was strong though and there was a healthy balance of dark tones and enough comedy to keep you from getting too down. Unlike another WB movie out right now…
2 – Direction: 8/10
This film is brought to you by Jeff Nichols, who also wrote the story. Good ol’ Jeff brought you classics like Mud, Take Shelter, and Shotgun Stories. Yeah, I’ll be honest I’ve never heard of those either. Still, Jeff brings you a fascinating and enrapturing story that’s well told and keeps things interesting despite a lack of explosions or long expositions. Unlike another WB movie out right now…
3 – Cinematography: 7/10
There weren’t many beautiful shots in this movie. A few shots were creative and interesting (especially towards the end), but what drives the movie instead is a fast moving plot. The lack of elite visuals doesn’t take away from the movie at all and some could argue the lack of sweeping shots keeps things grounded. Unlike another WB movie out right now… Okay fine I’ll stop.
4 – Acting: 8/10
I’ve seen Michael Shannon now in three movies and I’m pretty sure smiling causes him physical pain. He doesn’t have a single smile line on his face, just permanent frown lines. It’s crazy how well he can convey emotion without using a full array of facial expressions, but to be fair he almost never needs to. For what it’s worth he smiles like four times in this movie but the smile never reaches his eyes… *shudder* Joel Edgerton is great. Kylo Ren- I mean Adam Driver- is great as the comedic relief. Kirsten Dunst turns in her best performance since “Bring It On”… I’m not proud of that joke… Okay maybe a little proud.
5 – Editing: 6/10
Okay this was a problem. There were some shots that were so abrupt it shook me out of the movie for a moment. They would go from bright to dark or dark to bright too quickly. A few shots were cut too early for some reason. Not terrible, but something you notice after it happens a couple of times.
6 – Sound: 8/10
I thought sound was solid. There was a lot of strange things that happen in this movie and good ol’ Jeff and his crew make sure you feel the strangeness. Some shots even make you downright uncomfortable; dare I say uneasy! Just like a good sci-fi thriller should.
7 – Score/Soundtrack: 8/10
There was nothing too memorable about the score in this one. The music in this one is credited to a handful of people and I’m not exactly sure who is ultimately responsible for the final product. Misha Kachkachishvili is the scoring engineer, Satoshi Mark Noguchi is the score mixer, Jay B. Richardson is the music editor, and Jay Weigel is the conductor. There are also a handful of assistants… Whoever is in charge: you did a darn solid job! Congrats! And thanks for reading this review!
8 – Production Design: 9/10
The scope and scale of this movie is simultaneously enormous and yet grounded. They tackle ideas and concepts that are just wildly complicated to probably 90% of the world. Yet when it comes down to it, this is a story about a father looking after his son and it stays grounded in that way. The design of this movie therefore doesn’t need to be complicated, but they do a great job of building it regardless.
9 – Casting: 8/10
The cast was really solid for what is essentially an indie movie. Michael Shannon, Kirsten Dunst, Joel Edgerton, Kylo Ren- I mean Adam Driver- are all at the very least B listers. Adam and Michael are close to A listers now. Kirsten… well… mostly B listers (love ya Kirsten!). All of them fit their roles perfectly really and I loved the way that they fed off of each other. Bill Camp, Scott Haze, and David Jensen all do terrific jobs as well in small roles.
10 – Effects: 8/10
The building of the world is certainly interesting, but it’s not like this movie had the greatest budget in the world. In fact according to wikipedia, the most truthful source on the planet, the budget on this film was “only” 18 million dollars. Sounds like a lot, but compare that to say Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice which had roughly 250 million dollars in initial budget and it puts things into greater perspective. Ultimately the budget shows a bit, but the look is still good enough to pique your interest. (I have a real source for the budget guys I promise).
Overall Score: 7.8/10
Look it’s not the greatest movie ever. Let’s just start there. You’re not going to leave it wondering when the sequel comes out (although there’s a bit of an opening for one). It’s a grim and serious film. If you’re looking for a fun romp, this isn’t it. However, I enjoyed it! I thought it was interesting and thought evoking. There’s a basic story involved that’s relateable and simple and will resound with most anybody. It’s a solid sci-fi thriller that will make you think things, feel things, and in the end if you’re like me you’ll leave a bit confused but contemplative. Unlike another WB movie out right now… Sorry. Couldn’t help it…