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So as you know, I stopped writing lengthy reviews on this site this year, keeping the blog as more of a film diary of sorts.  Lo and behold,...

Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Movie Review - Midnight Special

Midnight Special (2016)
Starring Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst, Jaeden Lieberher, Sam Shepard, and Adam Driver 
Directed by Jeff Nichols
***This film is currently streaming on HBO Now/Go***

I legitimately had no clue what I was getting into when I started Midnight Special.  Maybe I'd seen a trailer...maybe...but with the exception of knowing that it was directed by Jeff Nichols -- whose film oeuvre I find decent, yet slightly boring -- I really was coming into this blind.  By the time the credits rolled, Midnight Special lands in that same realm of Nichols' other films -- decent, yet slightly boring although it admittedly is a bit more ambitious in scope than Take Shelter, Mud, or Loving.

Honestly, I'm not going to summarize this one all that much.  I think the lack of knowledge concerning the storyline helped me become immersed much more than I would have otherwise.  Needless to say, the overall gist is that two men (Michael Shannon and Joel Edgerton) have seemingly kidnapped a young boy named Alton Meyer (Jaeden Lieberher) who may or may not possess some special powers or secret knowledge that multiple entities including the US government want.

The mix of science fiction, chase film, and family drama surprisingly meld together quite well with Nichols planting the viewer right into the action from the opening scene and gradually revealing the various layers of mystery as the story progresses.  Michael Shannon is surprisingly captivating in a role that requires a bit of heart rather than the typical scary intensity we see from him.  Jaeden Lieberher is also successful as the young boy who may be more than he seems.

Nichols takes his time to craft his characters and in doing so they prove to be fully developed.  He certainly excels in carving out an atmosphere for his economically lower-class characters to inhabit.  It's just unfortunate that his films oftentimes feel so slowly paced.  While a little more plot-driven than his other works, Nichols is still proving to be a director that meanders his way through things.  While I've yet to truly dislike anything he's brought to the screen in his young career thus far, I keep waiting to be blown away and I thought it might've happened with this one.  The first hour is tense and full of edge-of-your-seat moments.  Unfortunately, it devolves a bit in the second half where the pacing becomes a bit of a slog.  Still, Midnight Special is Jeff Nichols' best work yet and he's a director to keep an eye on in the future.

The RyMickey Rating:  B

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