“Midnight Special” — A Different Kind of Sci-fi

One of my favorite things about science fiction is that it can be almost anything. You got your epic space operas a la Star Trek, your brilliantly crafted horror films like Alien, low-budget cerebral indies like Primer, fun blockbusters like Back to the Future. And then there’s Midnight Special.

It’s a little difficult to even describe this movie without getting spoilery, but the gist is this: A man takes his son away from a religious cult in Texas, running from both “the Ranch” and the FBI, who all want the boy because of his special powers.

It sounds like a strained premise, but Midnight Special is a remarkably beautiful movie. Alton’s powers and their mysterious origin are really fascinating. But what makes it a good movie is the relationships between the characters. It’s not just about a magical boy — it’s about a father’s love for his son.

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The relationship between Roy (Michael Shannon) and Alton (Jaeden Lieberher) is one that isn’t seen in movies or TV very often, regrettably. The main conflict isn’t between the father and son, it’s between the father and his son’s enemies.

In a way it’s very much a Christian metaphor — the father will fight for his beloved son and will do what is best for him, even when it hurts.

Curiously, Midnight Special is not what I would call a fast-paced film. It’s really subdued in tone, but dynamic in plot and action. And the performances by the main cast, especially Michael Shannon and Joel Edgerton, are brilliant. Color me impressed. I am totally fans of these guys right now.

If you’re a sci fi fan, go see Midnight Special. It’s not Star Wars or a Marvel movie, and it’s not expected to get a lot of attention, which is a shame, because it deserves it.

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