‘The Midnight Sky’ looks good but doesn’t develop characters or themes


George Clooney’s “The Midnight Sky” is a science fiction thriller set 29 years in the future, in the year 2049. The film is visually pleasing; however, it is unable to develop the characters and drive home convincing themes. 

This film is based on the 2016 novel “Good Morning, Midnight” by Lily Brooks-Dalton. In “The Midnight Sky” a mysterious event has occurred, and humans are forced to evacuate their homes and the planet Earth. This film follows terminally ill scientist Augustine Lofthouse (George Clooney) and the crew of Aether, a space ship on their journey home from K-23, a fictional moon of Jupiter that is seen as a possible home for humans. 

This film was not perceived well critically, which can be shown by the low 51% on Rotten Tomatoes and the 1.5/5 on the Rolling Stone scale. 

The audience is first introduced to the main character Augustine as he ponders his decision to stay in the Arctic Circle, as the rest of humanity evacuates. The terminally ill scientist decides to make contact with any space missions, in order to warn them about the devastation that has come to Earth. He is unable to contact the lone spaceship still online called “Aether,” and he is forced to journey to the Lake Hazen Weather Station to do so. Augustine’s plan becomes complicated when he discovers Iris (Caoilinn Springall), a girl who is left behind, who doesn’t talk to him.

The film cuts back and forth between Augustine, and the crew of Aether as they return from K-23. On the ship crew members, Sully (Felicity Jones) and Commander Adewole (David Oyelowo) are romantically involved and are expecting their first child. The film doesn’t develop their relationship well, as the audience can often have trouble connecting with them. The acting is not on a level that makes the relationship believable, as there is little chemistry between the two actors. 

However, the scenes that are set in space, on the ship, and on the moon of Jupiter K-23 are very aesthetically pleasing, and the special effects are done well.

The audience follows Augustine and Iris as they travel to the Lake Hazen weather station. The pair run into many different problems throughout the journey, and Iris is the inspiration for Augustine to keep pushing. Although the dynamic between Augustine and Iris is interesting, it lacks a depth that could be attributed to the difficult nature of developing relationships when one doesn’t speak.

The film contains flashbacks to Augustine as a young man (Ethan Peck) as he is entangled in a romantic relationship with a woman, Jean Sullivan (Sophie Rundle). However, as the film progresses Augustine focuses more on his work than his relationships, and this leads to him pushing her away.

This film attempts to deliver a theme that when it appears that all hope is lost, to never stop fighting, and searching for solutions. However, the film fails to deliver this theme, as the overwhelming theme was far darker. Throughout the majority of the film, the idea that humans as a species will lead to the overall demise of humans often outweighed the themes.

In summary, “The Midnight Sky” is a science fiction Netflix film that packs an emotional punch with fun special effects, yet a lack of development of character arcs and themes.

Grade: C+