George Clooney tries to save humanity in chilly apocalyptic drama 'The Midnight Sky'

George Clooney neem sy grootste regisseurswaai nog met “Die Middernaglug,” en kom met 'n besliste gemengde resultaat weg. 'N Buitengewone post-apokaliptiese riller, the sci-fi film reaches a reasonably satisfying finish, but follows an uneven orbit in getting there.

The actor-director’s filmography has exhibited an interest in end-of-the-world scenariosincluding producing and starring in a remake ofFail Safefor CBSand he’s back in that territory here. Set in 2049, the movie begins three weeks after an unspecified “gebeurtenis” that will spell mankind’s doom, with Clooney’s Augustinesituated at an outpost in the Arcticstill alive, but for how long no one knows.
Steeds, Augustine has one task left to perform: Warning a spaceship with a diverse crew of astronauts from returning to a dying planet, but rather hoping to divert them, after a deep-space mission that might have provided hope of a habitable planet upon which they could take refuge.
Adapted from Lily Brooks-Dalton’s bookGood Morning, Midnightby writer Mark L. Smith (“The Revenant”), the film oscillates between the astronauts and Augustine, while fleshing out details about his character through a series of flashbacks.
    The premise is bleak and the sledding (letterlik, when Augustine realizes he needs to reach another location to contact them) arduous. There are also formidable challenges facing the explorers, with a crew that includes Felicity Jones, David Oyelowo, Kyle Chandler, Demián Bichir and Tiffany Boone.
    Barring one pretty dramatic space-faring action sequence, “Die Middernaglug” moves along somewhat listlessly, especially during the earth-bound sequences involving Clooney and the young girl (Caoilinn Springall) who becomes his companion. (Tom Hanks also plays opposite a child inNews of the World,” so there must be something in the water.)
    Perhaps inevitably, the film bears a resemblance to other recent space-set fare, including a film in which Clooney co-starred, “Gravity,” and Christopher Nolan’s cerebralInterstellar.The main difference is a prevailing sense of hopelessness that works as a drag against the drama.
    Clooney established early on withGood Night, and Good Luckthat he was a serious filmmaker, as opposed to a dabbling movie star, and he has taken chances with projects of questionable commercial viability, a la the off-kilterSuburbicon” en “The Monuments Men.
      “Die Middernaglug” is spared from any pressure to light up the box-office sky on Netflix, and that’s just as well. Because while Clooney has delivered a sobering and thoughtful film, dramatically speaking the storya bit like Clooney’s taciturn scientistfeels confined in a prison of its own making.
      “Die Middernaglug” premieres Dec. 23 on Netflix.

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