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The Midnight Sky: Sad Dad and Sad Astronauts in a Joyless Movie

The Midnight Sky is a very near-future Science Fiction yarn about a dying scientist at the end of the world who has to warn the last astronauts in space that the Earth is doomed, and they shouldn't come back. This is probably the last movie anyone wants to see right now, given the world's current mood.

The Midnight Sky Poster
The Midnight Sky Poster, courtesy of Netflix

George Clooney, who also directed from the novel Good Morning, Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton, plays the last scientist left at a North Pole science base that has evacuated after news came that the world was coming to an end due to man-made disasters. The movie is deliberately vague about what exactly happened, but mushroom clouds are seen littering the globe from space, which suggests either multiple meltdowns or total nuclear exchange, which will envelop the Earth in deadly radiation and kill everyone left in the world. That's it, game over. Clooney discovers a lone child still on the station with him and keeps her with him as he sets out to find a communications station to warn the astronauts in space not to come home to certain doom. Meanwhile, in space, a band of astronauts on a mission led by Felicity Jones, David Oyelowo, Demián Bichir, Kyle Chandler, and Tiffany Boone are getting ready to return to Earth without knowing its fate.

What's happened to George Clooney? He used to be a fun, funny guy, but ever since he started directing movies, his work has gotten moody and lugubrious. This is an utterly joyless and expensive movie where Clooney turns off all his movie star charm and charisma to play a Sad Dad, the last Sad Dad alive, who wants to make one last selfless act to atone for past sins. The band of astronauts in space become Sad Astronauts when they discover they're completely screwed and start getting killed one by one. You get a movie that's both a Sad Dad and a Sad Astronaut story in one. Actually, all the male astronauts become Sad Dads as well. Sad Dadstronauts! It's an all-pervasive gloom-and-doomfest from start to finish with the tiniest glimmer of hope at the end.

Apocalyptic pessimism is par for the course in Science Fiction. It's also way too easy to think of and fall into. Let's face it, things are pretty bad in real life, and that attitude has become the default of too many people. And given our current shitshow of a world under quarantine and a pandemic, who the hell wants to see a soft Science Fiction about a dying man warning a dwindling number of sad astronauts that the world is dead? If you want to get this depressed, you're better off drinking yourself into a stupor. It would be more fun and take less time.

In the end, this is a movie about a Sad Dad who feels Bad and needs to apologize to his kid. You really don't need the trimmings of the North Pole, astronauts, mushroom clouds, and a dying Earth to tell that story. The target audience for this movie seems to be morbidly depressed old men only.

The Midnight Sky is now streaming on Netflix.

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Adi TantimedhAbout Adi Tantimedh

Adi Tantimedh is a filmmaker, screenwriter and novelist who just likes to writer. He wrote radio plays for the BBC Radio, “JLA: Age of Wonder” for DC Comics, “Blackshirt” for Moonstone Books, and “La Muse” for Big Head Press. Most recently, he wrote “Her Nightly Embrace”, “Her Beautiful Monster” and “Her Fugitive Heart”, a trilogy of novels featuring a British-Indian private eye published by Atria Books, a division Simon & Schuster.
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