Not in the Blade Runner universe is the new sci-fi drama from George Clooney (who started in space flicks Solaris and Gravity). A well intended, if unremarkable contemplative fare with Alexandre Desplat keeping it from being too quiet with a strong score.
The Midnight Sky has an apocalyptic feel given in 2049 where folks are planning to meet up with their families after heading south before a cataclysmic ‘event’ ensues.
Not though for terminally ill scientist August Lofthouse (Clooney) hanging back at a research facility due north of the Arctic Circle. His solitude is shaken when he comes upon young Iris (Caoilinn Springall) left behind after evacuation.
Also, going through ‘Space Force’ data the hirsute fellow (who turns out to be a father from a failed relationship explained in flashbacks) needs to inform spacecraft Aether returning from ‘inhabitable’ Jupiter moon K-23 (he’s important to its discovery) about their imminently imperiled Earth. It turns out he and young Iris have to traverse a frozen tundra to a scientific outpost that will sufficiently relay the distress signal.
The script from Mark L. Smith (Revernant) is based on the novel Good Morning, Midnight and Clooney pays homage to Stanley Kramer’s On The Beach where Australia was a safe haven from an atomic fallout (Gregory Peck, Anthony Perkins, and Ava Gardner led this post WWIII tale). It shifts a cold trek and the toils for the Aether with its quartet of members including pregnant science officer Sully (Felicity Jones of On The Basis of Sex and Rogue One). Her commanding officer significant other is David Oyelowo’s Adowale.
Clooney has a juggling act that is difficult to modulate with acuity from behind the camera, as well as producing, also in providing heft for what’s at stake from Lofthouse’s resolve and hope. More ingenuity is found from his work with his technicians from a taut meteor shower to walloping white-out. You just wish something emotional could emerge with more plausibility in these gradually united disparate strands that leaves The Midnight Sky closer to the recent Greenland than a cinematic beacon like Interstellar or The Martian.