Plain, Simple Tom reviews . . . “Midnight Special” (2016)

Last night, I did something that I’ve really wanted to do for some time: go to a “Screen Unseen” at the Odeon. Thankfully, it was genuinely kept secret until the title showed up on the certification screen and I did actually hear some pleasantly surprised murmurs from behind me. Before I start, I will say that with this particular film, I had heard the film title before but beyond that, I had genuinely no idea of what it was about, what genre it was and most importantly, what the critics thought of it. So in a rare occurrence for me, I started watching with absolutely no preconceptions or expectations; a blank canvas.

So, “Midnight Special” starts off with news of the kidnapping of a young boy, Alton, and we see the “kidnappers”, played by Michael Shannon and Joel Edgerton, as well as Alton. We are also introduced to “The Ranch”, a cult whose sermons are based around said boy and the leader of The Ranch wants the boy back. OK, so far a crime thriller, right? However in a later scene, we see Alton projecting beams of light from his eyes and from here on in, it becomes more of a paranormal/science fiction story. We soon learn that Michael Shannon is Alton’s father, Kirsten Dunst plays his mother, and they are all trying to get him to a certain place with a great degree of urgency, pursued by agents of both The Ranch and the FBI.

OK, so on the positive side, “Midnight Special” does feature some amazing visuals; the effects associated with the boy are interesting and there is a certain scene at the end that is truly magnificent, gorgeous and which caused me to give a silent “wow” under my breath. Also, the story is interesting enough; is clearly well thought out and there are a couple of exciting scenes. The ending actually reminded me of “Muppets From Space”!

However, it’s not that great and ultimately, there isn’t much to be taken away from this film. The acting is okay, Joel Edgerton is the best of the bunch, alongside Michael Shannon doing his stony faced look throughout and…that’s pretty much it. It’s not exactly sensational, it all moves along at a leisurely pace and goes nowhere in particular; it never really catches fire, though it comes close at certain points.

In summary, there are some cool effects, but the whole thing takes quite a bit of time to say nothing.

3 Stars



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