George Clooney has been hit-or-miss over his directing and acting career. I guess you could say a lot of actors and directors have a similar problem. By his early success in his career, he has been able to keep making movies he wants to make, mostly with his producing partner Grant Heslov. These two have done some pretty good work together over the years. This time around Clooney and Heslov team up with Netflix for The Midnight Sky.
In the film, Clooney plays a scientist in the Arctic. He is trying to communicate with a spaceship that has astronauts returning to Earth, but due to a catastrophe, they are unable to return. As he is trying to reach out to these astronauts who are oblivious to what has happened on earth, he has the problems he has to deal with. Namely the weather and the current situation he has found himself in as well. He is in a battle for his own life and that of another.
Clooney has tackled a lot of topics in his career, but The Midnight Sky is a mix of a few of them combined. He did Gravity with Alfonso Cuarón in 2013 and he did A Perfect Storm in 2000. This film has a mix of both of these two. Throw in Frequency and you have The Midnight Sky. It’s a bit all over the place. Those three films were great stand-alone stories all by themselves. There was no need to mix all three of these genres. He and the writer, Lily Brooks-Dalton, should have just focused on one maybe two of these genres. This story and film were overcooked.
That being said, what he and his actors had to work with, they made the most of. Clooney assembled an all-star cast for his film. His astronauts were Kyle Chandler, Felicity Jones, David Oyelowo, and Damien Bashir. Anybody would love to have these stellar actors in their film. They all were very good. Of course, so was Clooney and newcomer Caoilinn Springall. She was a very good opposite, Clooney. The elements and CGI are both difficult in their own way. The actors handled them very well.
These types of survival films have to have believability to them. You as the viewer have to be all in on the story and characters and their plight. The problem is there was not enough for anyone watching this film to care about. Sure, there were subplots within the script they tried to shoehorn in to get people to give a crap about these people and their stories. They just didn’t work for me. They just seemed to make the film more convoluted in the end. This film was all over the place.
Clooney is a good director at times and a very good actor. He gives a good performance and his direction is good as well. It’s the story that fails him and his co-stars. It’s just too much for me to try to digest in two hours. If they cut one of three main storylines in the film, it probably would have worked better. Maybe this script could have used another go through when it was all said and done. Sometimes the director is his own worst enemy because he had no one to answer to. That’s Netflix’s style. They give you the money and stay out of your way.
Dan Skip Allen