Midnight Special (2016) Review

Midnight Special (2016)

Directed & Written by Jeff Nichols

Starring: Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst, Adam Driver, Jaeden Lieberher, Sam Shepard

Plot Synopsis: (via IMDB)
A father and son go on the run, pursued by the government and a cult drawn to the child’s special powers.

My Opinion:

***I’ll remain spoiler-free. This is a good one to see without knowing much about it.

Once again, like when I reviewed 10 Cloverfield Lane, I’m reviewing this sooner than I’d like to as I normally like to wait a couple of days. But I only finished watching this a few hours ago so bear with me for another one of my rambling reviews while I try to sort out my initial thoughts on Midnight Special.

I couldn’t wait to see this one – it was one of my most-anticipated for the whole year. It’s my favorite sort of genre & sounded like the exact sort of thing that I love. And it’s good! It really is. Luckily, it’s far better than 10 Cloverfield Lane (for which I still haven’t fully sorted out my feelings – I either really liked it or I really did not… I’ve never felt quite so confused over my feelings for a movie!). Anyway, I think I just hype certain movies up in my mind too much as so many are so disappointing that when one my sort of thing comes along, I expect too much. I liked this a lot. I expected to love it. I think I loved parts of it but, overall, I’m not sure it will be an all-time favorite such as the brilliant films it’s reminiscent of (such as Steven Spielberg’s E.T. The Extra-Terrestrial or Close Encounters Of The Third Kind).

Don’t worry – I won’t say a thing at all about the plot. I think it’s widely known that there’s a sci-fi element to this film anyway but my comparison to those two Spielberg films are more because of Midnight Special’s tone & feel as well as its focus on the characters and their relationships. That’s what I care most about in a film. Yes, I love a great story (especially anything the slightest bit sci-fi) but I never really love a film unless it has strong characters that I care about. While I didn’t fully connect with the characters in Midnight Special as much as I was hoping, I do think the movie did a really good job with those who mattered the most in the film. The father/son relationship is the strongest and, luckily, is what works best as it’s the main focus of the film. I certainly can’t fault Shannon’s performance as a father who will do anything to protect his child. I guess I was just hoping for more of an emotional attachment, like I got with something like E.T. but, hell, to even have your movie bring Spielberg classics to mind is a pretty huge compliment to Jeff Nichols. Yes, this movie very much feels like something Spielberg would have made in his Close Encounters sort of days. That’s a very good thing. In fact, I wonder what he thinks of this movie! Hmm… I would imagine he loves it.

Jeff Nichols is certainly a writer/director I’ll be paying more attention to after this film. I did review both Take Shelter & Mud and it was interesting re-reading those to see what I thought of them. Seriously, though – don’t read my Take Shelter review as I’d only had this blog for two weeks at that point & didn’t even know why I’d started a blog. Basically, I was clearly paying very little attention to the movie as it was on in the background while I decorated the Christmas tree (I’m a parent – you’ll find you half-watch a lot of things when you get some rare “alone time”). πŸ˜‰ Maybe I’ll give it another try someday but it was one of those films I think I appreciated more than actively liked. Shannon was good, though, as was the film’s theme plus I remember thinking the ending was very good. Mud was an improvement overall in that the film was a more enjoyable & entertaining watch but, now that I think about it more, I think Take Shelter had the far stronger story. I guess it depends on what you prefer from a movie but, if you liked both of those films, you’ll definitely like Midnight Special as it feels like Nichols got a better balance this time between making a good story as well as an entertaining film. Plus, I gotta say the ending is great. It can often go so wrong at the end with this type of thing but I was happy with this film’s finale.

I’m going to wrap this up before I ramble on too much or start spoiling things. Besides, I have a massive migraine & need to go to bed. Damn migraines! When it’s gone, I’ll hopefully be able to catch up on some of your Midnight Special reviews as I wanted to avoid them all until I’d seen it but I really am curious what you all thought of it. Plus, I keep wanting to call this Midnight Express… Anyone seen that? I’ve always wanted to see that but never have. Now I’m off topic. I can’t think when I have a headache.

Midnight Special is very good. I liked it a lot but only time will tell if I feel the same way about it as I do about some of Spielberg’s sci-fi classics that have a similar feel. I’ll say that, partially because of the Dunst connection, I was also reminded somewhat of Melancholia (which I liked quite a bit). I suppose Jeff Nichols is somewhere in the middle – not as weird as Lars von Trier but not as mainstream as Steven Spielberg. It’s a cool combination but I’m not sure if it’ll work for everyone. It worked for me and I’d like to see Nichols do more of this same genre.

My Rating: 8/10

59 thoughts on “Midnight Special (2016) Review

  1. Loved Midnight Special. I’ve seen some comments that the story was a little underwritten in how it palms off certain plot elements (I won’t divulge in detail to avoid spoilers) but the ending and the score left me speechless. Sheer imagination and skill to embody such creativity.

    • Glad you liked it too! Well, I appreciate when a movie doesn’t feel the need to fill in all the blanks. Some things can be overwritten too! This is more about the characters anyway. And, yes – the ending was great! πŸ™‚

  2. Great review. I agree I liked this movie but was not fully invested emotionally with the characters either. You are sort of right in stating that Jeff Nichols would be in the middle between Speilberg and Von Trier with this one.

    • Thanks! Oh, good – I didn’t know if I was nuts with that comparison. Lol. I do like my mainstream Spielberg more than bizarro von Trier but this movie is a good sort of middle ground. πŸ™‚

    • Lol! Sorry. I had to proofread my review to make sure I never called it Midnight Express. πŸ˜‰ Ohh… I’d love to know your thoughts after you’ve seen this! I hope you enjoy it. I do think that not everyone will unless they also like Take Shelter & Mud as this has that same sort of slow pace. πŸ™‚

    • Really?? πŸ™‚ Well, I’d love to know your thoughts! I didn’t touch on it much in the review as I had too much of a headache but I think people will only really like this if they’re also fans of his films Mud & Take Shelter. They’re good films but also not for everyone. I did think this was better than those, though. I hope you’ll like it!

  3. I didn’t read this or any of your comments because I want to see this so bad – blindly – but:



    #whydoyouhateallofmyfavoritemovies ??????

    : )

  4. The ending WAS fantastic, I’m so glad you said that! I didn’t say much about it but man, I really thought it went out great. I want to see this again honestly. Nyse review Mutey

    • Thanks, Tom the Bomb! πŸ™‚ Yeah, it was a good ending. Thought I’d point that out as sci-fi can often get it very wrong at the end. Not as much as horror movies, though… Not many horror movies know how to end! This one was pretty satisfying. : )

  5. Everyone seems to be talking about this, and I’m sure I’ll get to it when it’s available at some point after it’s available on home formats (will it be Blu-ray, rental, Sky Movies, Netflix — it’s a roulette wheel of possibilities where I’ll end up! I get this with so many films these days. It’s somewhere between exciting and frustrating — “how much do I think it’ll be worth paying for this viewing experience, based on my vague impression of its quality because I’m too lazy to read all the reviews?” But I digress).

    Where I actually intended this comment to go was: even though I’ll end up seeing it anyway, when you said it’s “not as weird as Lars von Trier but not as mainstream as Steven Spielberg” had me sold.

    • Lol! I know what you mean. There are a lot of movies I want to see but can’t really go paying out extra money to see them so I just hope they end up on Netflix. I rarely buy any on DVDs or blurays these days – can’t afford it! The one thing I do try to do is go to see them in the cinema on cheap day if I really really want to see them. It’s my one “luxury!”. I’m glad my von Trier/Spielberg comparison sold this. I hope it’s accurate because I don’t always know what I’m talking about… πŸ˜‰ lol. Have you seen Mud or Take Shelter?

      • I haven’t seen either. I hadn’t paid Take Shelter any heed so I’ll have to look it up, though I’ve been meaning to get round to Mud for a while. It’s available to stream on… one of them… or it was available, at some point… That’s the other problem with all these services: I can never remember which film’s on which service, and if it’s still there or just was there!

      • That would make life simpler. And to make it even trickier, I’ve noticed stuff has started service-hopping — like, Maleficent is being removed from Sky Movies today or tomorrow, and then the next day it’s being added to Netflix. That’s just more confusing!

  6. I really want to see this because it has such a great cast. I love Michael Shannon and Adam Driver.

    I already half-watch so many things so I think we’ll be down to quarter watch with Little O. One eye open…

    • Lol. You will! You’ll also fall asleep partway through movies anytime you try to watch one after the kid is asleep. πŸ˜‰ This is definitely worth watching if you love Shannon & Driver (although Driver’s part isn’t huge. That sounded dirty…).

  7. Cool movie and thanks for the review!! I’ll definitely be checking it out! Shucks, hope your migraine is better Ms.mutant! And it was an enjoyable review nonetheless πŸ™‚

  8. I am interested in seeing this one – I liked Take Shelter and Mud, but didn’t love them like most people, so would like to see where Nichols goes now.

    • Hmm. I think you’ll like this okay but think those who loved his other films will like it most. It’s the one I like the most of the three but I think I praised it a LITTLE too much….

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