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Midnight Special (2016)

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A father and son go on the run, pursued by the government and a cult drawn to the child's special powers.

Director:

Jeff Nichols

Writer:

Jeff Nichols
Reviews
Popularity
3,276 ( 26)
3 wins & 14 nominations. See more awards »

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Cast

Cast overview, first billed only:
Michael Shannon ... Roy
Joel Edgerton ... Lucas
Kirsten Dunst ... Sarah
Adam Driver ... Sevier
Jaeden Lieberher ... Alton
Bill Camp ... Doak
Scott Haze ... Levi
Sam Shepard ... Calvin Meyer
Paul Sparks ... Agent Miller
David Jensen ... Elden
Sharon Landry ... Merrianne (Doak's Wife)
Dana Gourrier ... Sharon Davison (Councelor)
Sharon Garrison ... Jane Adams (Sarah's Mother)
Allison King ... Hannah (Ranch Member)
Sean Bridgers ... Frederick (Ranch Member)
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Storyline

Alton Meyer is a boy unlike any other in the world with bizarrely powerful abilities and strange weaknesses. In the middle of the night, his father, Roy, spirits him away from the isolated cult that practically worships him and is determined to regain him at all costs. At the same time, Alton's abilities have been noticed by the US government as well and they are equally insistent on getting to the bottom of this mystery with Paul Sevier of the National Security Agency leading the Federal pursuit with his own questions. These rival hunts force father and son into a desperate run towards a looming date with destiny that could change everything. Written by Kenneth Chisholm (kchishol@rogers.com)

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Taglines:

He's not like us.


Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for some violence and action | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:

View content advisory »
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Details

Official Sites:

Official Facebook | Official site | See more »

Country:

USA | Greece

Language:

English

Release Date:

21 April 2016 (Greece) See more »

Also Known As:

Untitled Jeff Nichols/Sci-Fi Project See more »

Filming Locations:

New Orleans, Louisiana, USA See more »

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Box Office

Budget:

$18,000,000 (estimated)

Opening Weekend USA:

$190,012, 20 March 2016, Limited Release

Gross USA:

$3,707,794, 22 May 2016
See more on IMDbPro »

Company Credits

Show more on IMDbPro »

Technical Specs

Runtime:

Sound Mix:

Dolby Digital | Datasat

Color:

Color

Aspect Ratio:

2.35 : 1
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Did You Know?

Trivia

Jeff Nichols wrote the film as a reflection on becoming a father. See more »

Goofs

The debris from the exploded satellite falls around the truck stop plaza at about a 55-60 degree angle, but the last image from the satellite appears to have been taken almost directly overhead (85-90 degrees). If the image was taken overhead just before the explosion, the satellite debris would indeed have fallen at an acute angle as it slowed and entered the atmosphere, but it would have landed many miles away, not on the same spot it was imaging directly below. See more »

Quotes

Alton Meyer: Dad?
Roy: Yeah?
Alton Meyer: Are you scared?
Roy: Yes.
Alton Meyer: You don't have to worry about me.
Roy: I like worrying about you.
Alton Meyer: You don't have to anymore.
Roy: I'll always worry about you Alton. That's the deal.
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Connections

Features Down Periscope (1996) See more »

Soundtracks

The Last Pale Light in the West
Written and Performed by Ben Nichols
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User Reviews

 
Midnight Special
17 March 2016 | by abouhelier-rSee all my reviews

A father and son go on the run after the dad learns his child possesses special powers.

Midnight Special or the buzziest title of this year's Berlin Film Festival. Still settled under a larger than life mysterious Southern sky, still lead by Michael Shannon, Jeff Nichols' cinematography welcomes sci-fi elements. Nichols new film is closer to Take Shelter as it went beyond the mysteries of the human heart and into a more cosmic enigma. Here Jeff Nichols pays transporting homage to the rich tradition, spanning the late 70s through the mid-80s, of intelligent sci-fi, emotionally grounded in relatable human dynamics. Midnight Special is the first movie of the director to be produced by a major studio (Warner Bros.); though this film is as stylish as all of his former pictures, even if this time around he must have been more aware of criticism and must have had to defend his ideas and choices to impose his point of view again and again.

What if there were something new in the world? And what if it was your son? The main theme of this movie is a father and son journey, literally on the road, with a father trying to understand where his son has to be and helping him to go there. I've been immediately interested by the title of this film and after some googling, I found the reference to the folk song covered by Creedence Clearwater Revival, which featured memorably in the opening scene of the 1983 Steven Spielberg big screen spin off of The Twilight Zone. There's a wave of young filmmakers brought up in the 70s and 80s blockbusters that changed the Hollywood system, who are doing their best to replicate them. J.J. Abrams already managed to work alongside Steven Spielberg himself for throwback fantasy Super 8 before taking charge of the rebooted Star Wars franchise - and others such as Gareth Edwards, Rian Johnson or Joss Whedon are clear students of the multiplex masters who birthed the event movie.

Characters are not superheroes, but looked upon as normal people. Once again, in constant collaborator Michael Shannon, Nichols finds the perfect engine to power this delicate story forward - was ever any actor so able to project an aura of utter conviction, even when faced with the impossibly wrenching eventuality that the only way to save his child might be to let him go? Alton embodies the never ending possibilities of the universe. No one ever experienced what comes after death (well, no one came back to tell us anyway), other dimensions or metaphysical appearances of God. None of these things are tangible, but men want them to exist. Alton is the personification of this need.

Moreover, Jeff Nichols did not forget that we as an audience are smart people. We've grown up with movies, we've been taught to pay attention to what was happening on screen; as soon as a new character emerged, we began instinctively to make supposition and hypothesis on his link and relationship with other characters and his environment. He relies on the ability of an intelligent audience to make sense of what is happening. This film is made almost entirely of mysteries and none of which are resolved by the final scenes. The bigger the questions you ask are, the less likely it is you can answer them in any satisfying, definitive way and the human, existential, metaphysical questions that Midnight Special poses, if you care to look for them, are enormous.

The visual effects heavy sequences raises more questions than it answers. Was Alton an alien, an angel, a more highly evolved human being? Was he going to heaven, or another dimension? The explanation is ultimately less important than what Alton's journey succeeds in illustrating about human nature - demonstrating just how desperately some people want to believe. In fact, the sci-fi elements of the film have an organic style, they look quite real, inspiration of movies like Close Encounters of the Third Kind, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial by Steven Spielberg or even Starman by John Carpenter with their opaque dark night. Religious themes aside, though, Nichols draws on both the paranoia of those 1980s films - the feeling that the government is a largely faceless, monolithic force, out to control and suppress all forms of wonder - and on Steven Spielberg's blockbusters filmmaking rhythms. Plus, family is a central theme in all Jeff Nichols' movies as well as couple relationships. Always a contradictory love or even an impossibly love, a love that has to fight in order to survive. A real tragic dimension as well as romantic is present in this vision of love And I like it, I grew up with > More on my blog


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