A Taut Chase to the Inevitable

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Title: Midnight Special

Rating: 3 Stars

This was a well made movie that started well and ended poorly.

A father (Roy), a member of a religious cult, has effectively kidnapped his son (Alton) from the cult. Alton is the center of the cult’s existence. Alton apparently possesses special powers, because not only are members of the cult desperately trying to recover him, through any means, but also the government is trying to hunt him down as well.  It turns out that the source of the cult’s gospel is actually the verbatim transmissions from secret government satellites. The government understandably wants to understand how this is possible.

At its heart, this is basically a chase movie. Roy, guided by Alton, needs to bring Alton to a certain time at a certain place to meet his destiny. The church and the government are both trying to track them down before they get there.

As the story unfolds, it becomes apparent that Alton is truly special. He shoots bright light out of his eyes, he brings down spy satellites, and he acts with a wisdom well beyond his years.

After witnessing a sunset for the first time, Alton reveals himself as an alien from another dimension and the meeting spot is the way for him to go home.

Ultimately, he does reach his destination. The civilization reveals itself in its entirety. It’s at this point where the movie loses its mojo.

The civilization has an architecture that reminds me of a cross between buildings from Marvin the Martian cartoons and the excesses of Dubai architects. The beings are apparently entities of dancing light.

It ends with Alton leaving his mother and father and entering the new civilization. There is of course the pensive look back as he abandons his old life and embarks upon his new. There is very much a bit of the Close Encounters / E.T. Spielberg aspect to this scene.

Once Alton is back with his people, the civilization disappears, apparently never to re-surface again.

Left unsaid is why? How did an earth mother and father give birth an an alien? Is the father an alien or somehow part alien? Is there any reason / point for the child to be born?

All in all, a taut chase movie with a pretty unsatisfactory ending. I’ve talked about this before with super hero movies. Once Alton is exposed as having these super powers, it kind of removes the suspense from the chase. If he can employ his special powers at will (and does at key points), it implies that he will inevitably achieve his goal regardless of what happens. Where is the suspense in that?

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