Writer/director Jeff Nichols proves again that he is one of the most compelling storytellers of our time with the sci-fi thriller “Midnight Special.” A provocative, genre-defying film as supernatural as it is intimately human, “Midnight Special” follows a father, Roy (Michael Shannon), who goes on the run to protect his young son, Alton (Jaeden Lieberher), a boy with mysterious powers that even Roy himself cannot comprehend.
What starts as a race from religious extremists and local law enforcement quickly escalates to a nationwide manhunt involving the highest levels of the Federal Government. Risking everything, Roy is committed to helping Alton reach his ultimate purpose, whatever that might be and whatever it costs, in a story that takes audiences on a perilous journey from Texas to the Florida coast, while exploring the bonds of love and trust, and the nature of faith.
Director Jeff Nichols first caught my attention with Mud. It was a great mix of story, visuals and a perfect cast. With Midnight Special he shows why he is one of the best to come along in recent memory. The film is a thrilling mix of sci-fi, quasi religion and road movie with a father doing everything he can to protect his very special son and get him where he needs to go. Michael Shannon has been one of my favorite actors of the past 15 years, one who brings a quiet intensity that makes you never sure where he stands. His protrayal of Roy shows a different side to them in some very touching but never schmaltzy scenes with the equally great Jaeden Lieberher who plays the very special Alton. The cast is rounded out with fine work by Joel Edgerton, Adam Driver and Kirsten Dunst.
I didn't know what to expect going into this and was engaged from minute one to the hopeful final moments. While the journey is better than the destination due to the reveal of where Alton was going has divided audiences, this is a brilliant piece of sci-fi drama that will hopefully gain a larger fan base now that is home on Blu-ray. 9/10
Midnight Special arrives on Blu-ray with a 1080p transfer in the aspect ratio of 2.40:1 - Cinematographer Adam Stone and director Jeff Nichols decided to shoot Midnight Special on film and it helps give the movie a look that harkens back to classics such as Close Encounters, Starman and E.T. The color palette is a mix of yellows,sunshine oranges, steel blues, crisp whites, and lush wood grains. Fleshtones have a natural appearance. Black levels remain deep and rich while never sacrificing shadow delineation. Fine details in clothing textures, beard stubble and depth of field were all pleasing to look at with exceptional clarity. A light amount of film grain is seen and adds to the visual feel the filmmakers were going for. 9/10
Audio is provided by a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. - Dialogue reproduction is flawless. Where this track really shines is in the LFE channel. Bass is super deep for some key scenes, while gunfire and vehicular mayhem gets some hefty crunching. Dynamics are top notch when the film goes from near silence to a wall of sound with ease. Surround activity was excellent with great use of the rear channels helping to create wonderful sense of atmosphere. The score by David Wingo is one of the best of the year and it's beautifully presented here within the mix. 9.5/10
* Origins (HD, 12:36 Play All) - A collection of vignettes exploring the characters with director and cast discussing the motivation of each one. Included are:
- Roy (HD, 02:06)
- Lucas (HD, 02:40)
- Sarah (HD, 02:46)
- Alton (HD, 02:46)
- Sevier (HD, 02:15)
* The Unseen World (HD, 05:12) - Cast and crew give insight on the plot and production.