Bil’s rating (out of 5): BB
USA, 2020. Anonymous Content, Netflix, Smokehouse Pictures, Syndicate Entertainment, Truenorth Productions. Screenplay by Mark L. Smith, based on the book Good Morning Midnight by Lily Brooks-Dalton. Cinematography by Martin Ruhe. Produced by George Clooney, Bard Dorros, Grant Heslov, Keith Redmon, Cliff Roberts. Music by Alexandre Desplat. Production Design by Jim Bissell. Costume Design by Jenny Eagan. Film Editing by Stephen Mirrione.
Director and star George Clooney bills this one as Gravity meets The Revenant, but unfortunately fails to recapture the ingenuity of the one or the dramatic strength of the other. After an unspecified global disaster has made earth uninhabitable for the majority of citizens on the planet, scientists at an Arctic research lab evacuate quickly with only Clooney left behind. Sick with a terminal illness, he decides to stay and try to contact a space ship that is on its way back from an exploratory voyage to Jupiter, hoping to warn them to stay away and avoid the harm that awaits them at home. As he tries to configure communication devices that are being destroyed by increasingly severe storms, he discovers that he is not alone in the station: a little girl has been left behind and he must take her with him as he crosses the treacherous snowy landscape to find a stronger antenna at another base that will hopefully reach their target. Meanwhile, in outer space, the Aether is hurdling towards its doom on earth as astronauts Felicity Jones and David Oyelowo try to fix their own hardware that is keeping them from communicating. The premise is rich with possibility, both as sci-fi escapism and sober environmental lesson (Clooney sighs every time the planet falls further apart, because We Were Warned and now We Deserve This), but apart from some very polished effects and a gorgeous visual scheme the whole thing is so painfully dull and familiar. Jones and Oyelowo are working out a personal relationship while trying to fix their space junk and it’s not interesting in the least, and is it not common knowledge at this point that if you go on a space walk (Gravity, Ad Astra), something bad will happen? Meanwhile, Clooney’s relationship with the child is also rife with cliches about past regrets, and works out to a preposterous (and even more cliched) ending. The lack of imagination being applied to a concept so imaginative is the most shocking aspect of all here.
Academy Award Nomination: Best Visual Effects
Golden Globe Award Nomination: Best Original Score