News and Commentary

Critics, Audiences Pan George Clooney’s ‘The Midnight Sky’
UNSPECIFIED - OCTOBER 18: In this screengrab, George Clooney speaks virtually during Screen Talk at the 64th BFI London Film Festival on October 18, 2020.
the BFI via Getty Images

George Clooney’s Netflix sci-fi adventure “The Midnight Sky,” about a scientist’s trek across an arctic landscape to save a young girl has not exactly generated the warmest responses among either critics or audiences.

With just one day left before its release on the streaming giant, “The Midnight Sky,” which Clooney directed as well as starred in, currently holds a below-mediocre 56% rating on Rotten Tomatoes among critics and an even worse audience score of 39%. The consensus: a tepid, dramatic film that fails to match its narrative ambition, saved only by Clooney’s dedicated performance.

“‘The Midnight Sky’ unfolds across several timelines, yet none of them register on a human or a basic storytelling level. It’s like the apocalypse arrived and nobody bothered to put up a fight,” wrote Adam Graham of Detroit News.

“Despite an interesting cast, the limited narrative twists eventually feel demeaning thanks to their sheer obviousness, and the discordant technical attributes tend to distract in a film which often feels as if it could have done more with less,” wrote Nicholas Bell of Ioncinema.

“It’s visually stunning and ambitious, but narratively lacking… It lacks dramatic heft, but I appreciated the contemplative performance by George Clooney,” wrote Claudia Pulg of NPR.

However, not all reviewers dismissed George Clooney’s efforts. James Berardinelli of Reelviews – perhaps the most objective, politically-neutral film critic working today – gave the film 3.5 out of 4 stars for daring to be a sci-fi film about ideas.

“It’s difficult to express how refreshing it is to encounter a dystopian film that hasn’t been developed for the YA market. Although flavored at times by its twin inspirations Gravity and The Revenant, The Midnight Sky maintains its own unique identity by exploring how people at an endpoint ponder both choices made and roads not taken,” wrote Berardinelli. “The film’s tone is elegiac without being depressing. There is a note of hope, a scintilla of light, but the movie doesn’t give in to the temptation to cop out with a happy ending. The Midnight Sky concludes with the right mix of catharsis and ambiguity.”

On IMDB, the film currently holds a 5.2 rating with reviewers virtually in agreement with critics: “The Midnight Sky” shoots for the moon but lands among the space trash.

“Although this movie has excellent space scenes and concepts for the moon planet being inhabitable, the storyline was blah,” wrote one user. “Clooney is a must see actor but this movie was not. It reminded me of the ‘The American’ that he was in. Nothing big happens and useless storyline. You aren’t even told what actually happens to earth to make It uninhabitable. They just call it ‘the event.’ They mention sickness and you see some animals flopping around and a plane crash victim who is in the process of dying, but then the spaceship that is returning to Earth, when gets near enough, the pictures look like dust storms raging everywhere.”

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