Midnight Special – Blu-ray Review

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Midnight Special follows Roy (Michael Shannon), who goes on the run with his young son, Alton, a boy with mysterious gifts that is sought out by religious extremists and the government. Risking it all, Roy is committed to doing whatever it takes to help his son reach his ultimate purpose.

After going through the journey in theaters (our original review), I must admit that the film isn’t as captivating the second time around. Once you know the mysteries of the film then there isn’t anything else to surprise you and keep you engaged. Thus, Nichols’ slow burn pacing does start to take its toll. There aren’t many signs, hints, or easter eggs to look out for either.

Regardless, the father and son relationship between Alton and Roy is still enjoyable and it’s still the driving force of the film. Michael Shannon is his usual eerie self but on a much more stoic level. It’s kind of refreshing to see him in a lead heroic role. With Jaeden Lieberher, the young actor portrays a character that’s both scared and poised. That’s quite a large range for a kid, but Lieberher pulls it off well. The only knock is that Lieberher delivers most of his lines in a monotone voice.

The supporting cast is relatively strong too. Joel Edgerton brings a hard-nosed, tough guy aspect to his role that instantly shows you why Roy brought him along on this perilous journey. Adam Driver is hilarious with the way he reacts to the extraordinary events that happen to him. Kirsten Dunst has a basic story-function role, but still is able to convey a motherly love element to her character. She seems better equipped in smaller, character-driven films.

Unfortunately, the film isn’t perfect. The one-dimensionality of all the characters doesn’t quite match with the with the film’s multi-layers. Also, the characters don’t go through much growth in the film either. Of course, the only exception to this is the film’s central character, Alton.

Overall, the film doesn’t hold the same weight as the first time around. The mystery of Alton’s powers is what made the film so captivating. However, the father and son journey is ultimately what keeps this film as entertaining and heartwarming as it is.

Movie Rating: 3.5/5 atoms
NR 3_5 Atoms - B-

Video
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Midnight Special is presented in a 1080P MPEG-4 AVC encoded video with a 2.40:1 aspect ratio. The contrast is solid throughout without a hint of flatness in both the bright and dark scenes. The black levels are rich and inky but there are certain scenes where the blacks are crushed and shadow detail are lost. However, with a film that takes places mostly at night, it’s impressive that most of the film’s black levels aren’t crushed. The details in the film are sharp with every wrinkle, hair, and clothing texture clearly visible on-screen. The colors are saturated perfectly as the film looks naturally colored from beginning to end. Despite the crushed blacks, the film’s video transfer is excellent.

Video Rating: 4/5 atoms
NR 4 Atoms - B(1)

Audio
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Midnight Special is presented in a DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround audio track. As a film that’s primarily dialogue, it’s not surprising that most of the audio comes from the center channel. Thankfully, the dialogue coming from the center channel are clear and natural. There are a few instances where the rest of the speakers come to life with environmental effects but those are few and far between. When the effects do arrive, they are able to immerse you during the most frantic moments of the film. The same can be said of the subwoofer which rumbles and booms with every effect. It definitely makes its presence known. Even though there’s nothing that stands out, the audio presentation is great.

Audio Rating: 4.5/5 atoms
NR 4_5 Atoms - A-

Special Features
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Midnight Special‘s Blu-ray contains the following special features:

  • Origins
    • Roy
    • Lucas
    • Sarah
    • Alton
    • Sevier
  • The Unseen World
  • Trailers

There aren’t a lot of special features in this Blu-ray release. “The Unseen World” is a traditional and insightful look into the film with writer/director Jeff Nichols talking about the various aspects of the film. Much like “The Unseen World,” “Origins” is an interesting look at all of the main characters in the film. Nichols and the cast provide in-depth information into the back story of their respective characters. However, as informative as both featurettes are, they’re over before you know it. Overall, there isn’t much to find in this release.

Special Features Rating: 2/5 atoms
NR 2 Atoms - D


Overall, Midnight Special‘s Blu-ray release is bare bones, to say the least. The film that is definitely a better film the first time around than any later repeat viewings. The video and audio presentations are excellent. Sadly, the special features are severely lacking with only two featurettes to be found.

Overall Rating: 3.5/5 atoms
NR 3_5 Atoms - B-

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