The film opens with two men and a child (Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton and Jaeden Lieberher) hiding out in a motel room, fleeing from a religious sect who believe the boy has magic powers. At first, the sight of Michael Shannon in a motel room invokes William Friedkin’s brilliant movie Bug. Sadly, the similarities end there.
Filmmaker Jeff Nichols deliberately avoids exposition in an attempt to cultivate an air of mystery, but the only mystery is why anyone would make a film so mind-numbingly boring. It aims for Spielbergian wonder, but you’ll just wonder why they bothered. There are nods to Close Encounters, but it’s more like Bore of the Worlds.
While Take Shelter saw Nichols and Shannon collaborate to great effect, Midnight Glacial just takes ages to do nothing – like eating plain celery or queuing for the London Eye. We know exactly where the film is headed, and it takes about 100 years to get there. Considering they’re being chased (theoretically), they never appear to be in much of a hurry.
This soporific sci-fi film is about as memorable and exciting as its title. The drama is lifeless, the characters listless and the great Michael Shannon hugely miscast. No one does intense and terrifying like Shannon – last seen not caring about Batman v Superman (the correct response). So why cast him as a boring father? Was Mark Wahlberg busy?
Where Monsters succeeded as both a road movie and a work of science-fiction, Midnight Special fails at both. With weak ideas, music and effects, these are Close Encounters of the Worst Kind.