Sunday, April 17, 2016

Midnight Special

On Monday I saw Midnight Special, starring Michael Shannon and Jaeden Lieberher.

Alton (Lieberher) isn't your everyday kid. He doesn't go to school. He lives on a cult ranch and provides accurate prophecies to his pastor. He also has an aversion to daylight.

When we meet him, he's on the run with his father (Shannon) and his father's childhood friend (Joel Edgerton) because the federal government is trying to take him into custody. At one stop he disables a satellite using just his eyes, causing the destruction of a gas station. This is apparently par for the course, as Dad doesn't seem so much surprised as angry. I couldn't help but think of Drew Barrymore's young Firestarter character when it all unfolded. Emotion = consequences. Just like normal life, but to a crazy degree.

As Alton searches for what the other dimension wants for him, the government remains in pursuit. Kirsten Dunst appears along the way to prove her worth as a nurturing mother. Adam Driver shows up as a borderline annoying cocky agent, way in over his head. He somewhat redeems himself eventually, but I could have done with less screen time from him.

In fact, I could have done with less screen time in general.

The main thing wrong with the film is it's pace: It doesn't really have one. There are moments of intense action and then moments of complete boredom. The fugitives encounter some people who have purpose and a few that don't. One incident that happens early in the film could make some dislike the dad. It was unnecessary—we get that he's loyal to the kid.

Also, Alton's eyes light up many times throughout the film, which had me cycling back in my brain to this '80s video by Bonnie Tyler. I couldn't help it. And if I'm that distracted during a movie in an otherwise peaceful theater, something's wrong.

Conceptually, I loved the idea of the film. A child with a gift that cannot be defined—even by those closest to him—is an interesting problem. The supernatural element only intensifies that challenge, which I enjoyed.

Unfortunately, the gratuitously lengthy journey getting there and the anti-climactic ending, which answered few questions, fell short.