The Midnight Sky

By Joanna Langfield

Well, I liked the sets.

George Clooney’s ambitious misfire is well intended, but curiously cold and uninvolving. There’s an inherent problem here, one which could have offered up an artistic challenge, but somehow, Clooney just doesn’t meet it.

Starring and directing, Clooney plays Augustine, a scientist who’s chosen to die on a remote outer space outpost, as the Earth beneath him suffers through an ecological apocalypse. Augustine’s decision isn’t a surprise, really, in a series of flashbacks, we see he was always a solitary kind of guy, one who preferred science over love. Content in his misery, Augustine’s world becomes unglued when he discovers a young girl, accidentally left behind when everyone else took off, knowing end days were coming to them, too. Meanwhile, there’s another group of scientists, flying through space, ones who could possibly save the child Augustine discovers he desperately wants protect, no matter the cost. There’s all sorts of time shifts and some pretty nifty set work, the space ships are gorgeous, as are the scenes of vast and furious wastelands.

But what could have been a profound study of human and ecological nature gets dragged down with lengthy passages where contemplative thought is the action. I, usually a fan of understatement and subtlety, found myself wishing something more obvious would happen. I can hardly imagine what superhero fans would make of this one. Still, there’s a dandy collection of actors on board, impressive design work and a message that reminds us to take care of our Earth as well as each other. And that’s something that’s worthy and comforting in these as well as those unsettling times.