Midnight Special Blu-ray Review
Much of MIDNIGHT SPECIAL is a chase. We’re dropped in the aftermath of Roy (Shannon) fleeing a Texas religious cult with his son Alton (Jaeden Lieberher). The father and son team are being helped by Lucas (Edgerton) a former friend of Roy and a state trooper. They cut through the night in the Deep South, listening to scanner traffic after an Amber Alert has been issued for Alton. But they’re not afraid of the legal repercussions, they’re afraid of not getting Alton to a mysterious location on a suspiciously specific date and time.
MIDNIGHT SPECIAL is clearly a sci-fi movie from the get-go. But the type of sci-fi remains a mystery during this elaborate chase. Alton displays mystifying, and terrifying, powers that he can’t seem to control; while at other times he seems to be a master of these other worldly abilities. Of course there’s a lingering suspicion that Alton is a puppet to some celestial beings or creatures from a different plane of existence. The ongoing mystery that permeates throughout MIDNIGHT SPECIAL is a love letter to midnight classics by director Jeff Nichols.
It’s clear that Nichols grew up watching B-movies late on Saturday nights and wore out his VHS copies of CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND and THE ABYSS. Because so much of MIDNIGHT SPECIAL’s likability hinges on the payoff of what exactly is happening, it’s easy to be critical of the lack of answers that are finally delivered. Unanswered thoughts and questions aren’t new for Nichols. He’s shown the ability to craft a thoughtful statement without uttering a single word of explanation. Just watch TAKE SHELTER.
But MIDNIGHT SPECIAL is a different beast entirely. The relationship between Roy and Alton doesn’t feel like a father-son relationship. Roy seems like a parental figure trying to figure out what’s going on with someone else’s offspring. That’s not a bad thing, but the emotional payoff of MIDNIGHT SPECIAL is lacking, up until the trio of runaways meets up with Alton’s mom, Sarah (Dunst).
The majority of the Five W’s are slowly answered throughout MIDNIGHT SPECIAL, giving us time to reflect on the disorganized family unit that Roy and Sarah created for Alton. I won’t divulge too much, but it seems to me that Nichols wanted to say something meaningful about forgiveness and the everlasting bond that a parent has with their child. Like most sci-fi’s, there’s more to it than meets the eye. While MIDNIGHT SPECIAL has no grand message about life and existence, it does find a mild amusement in Roy and Sarah’s love for Alton.
Much like TAKE SHELTER, there’s a lot to talk about when it comes to what MIDNIGHT SPECIAL is really about. It’s an ambitious project that gives credence to Shannon’s acting abilities and Nichols keen directorial eye. Hopefully viewers can decipher the meaning that lies within MIDNIGHT SPECIAL. Nichols certainly constructs a load of suspense and visual moments to decrypt, but there’s also a concern that Nichols failed on his end to satisfy the hype he so successfully built.
Video: (1080p Widescreen 2:39:1) It’s a gorgeous film with less than stellar special effects that we’re used to seeing in contemporary sci-fi movies. Nonetheless it’s clear and wonderful to watch.
Audio: (English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) I felt like I was going to shake my apartment to the ground during two moments in this movie. Outside those ear piercing moments, the sound mixing is perfectly fine on this blu-ray.
The Unseen World (5:12): This feature may explain one important thing about MIDNIGHT SPECIAL. Nichols talks about a lot of his inspiration in this movie as well as his focus when it comes to the ending.
Origins (5:12): This is five segments, focusing on specific characters. Each segment provides commentary by Nichols and the cast. You can play individually or play all.