The Midnight Sky

Movie review by
Jennifer Green, Common Sense Media
The Midnight Sky Movie Poster Image
Peril, language in gloomy, character-driven apocalypse tale.
  • PG-13
  • 2020
  • 122 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 12 reviews

Kids say

age 11+
Based on 10 reviews

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Family can and perhaps should take precedence to career. Self sacrifice is sometimes necessary.

Positive Role Models

Augustine loses his family due to his need to explore. He also puts his own life on the line to warn the space crew not to return to damaged earth. The crew members care for each other dearly and support each other personally and professionally. Mitchell is willing to sacrifice his life to try to save his family. All of the characters display courage. Some diversity.

Violence

Augustine and Iris set out in hazardous conditions and must wear masks to avoid radiation. They're almost drowned when the ice beneath them begins cracking. They come across a dying man and Augustine helps put him out of his misery. The astronauts encounter space debris on their trip and also when three of them are on a spacewalk, leaving one fatally injured. Her blood sprays out of her spacesuit and floats away in globs.

Sex

Two of the astronauts are expecting a child.

Language

"Bulls--t," "piss," "damn," "bitch."

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Augustine appears to get drunk and stumble to bed carrying a bottle and a glass, which he uses to down his medication. He appears to drink from the glass again in the morning.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the book-based film The Midnight Sky has a generally melancholy tone and deals with the destruction of earth and humanity as well as the deaths of individual characters. Director George Clooney's starring role is a scientist who sacrificed family for career and is now dying alone on the surface of the earth. Before he journeys out on a danger-filled trek, his days revolve around checking for other signs of life, eating microwaved meals, giving himself blood transfusions, popping pills, drinking heavily, vomiting, and sleeping. When he does detect signs of life -- in the form of five astronauts on a spaceship returning to earth -- we turn to their also generally gloomy stories. Each astronaut is grappling with homesickness or uncertainty about the future, and three risk their lives on a spacewalk. The bloody scene on their return could be too intense for young viewers, as could a couple of the encounters on Clooney's journey. All of the characters display courage. Language includes "bulls--t," "piss," "damn," and "bitch."

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written byGroovechic December 26, 2020

Apocalyptically depressing for kids and grownups!

Slow, hard to hear dialogue, lots of mumbling by George Clooney. Little to no character development. Sad and depressing.
Adult Written byDrfarhan74 January 1, 2021

Excellent movie. Don’t believe negative reviews

Excellent movie. Don’t believe negative reviews. Watch it. It’s emotional and engaging.
The end is very touching.
Teen, 13 years old Written byilikecandy January 16, 2021

2 hours of my life wasted

DO NOT WATCH THIS MOVIE. 1) It is depressing and stressful. And it is not realistic. First of all there is only one happy scene. And it is those types of sce... Continue reading
Teen, 14 years old Written byStodius January 6, 2021
It's a pretty good movie but I think it's missing a lot backstory. Pretty good to watch with the family.

What's the story?

In THE MIDNIGHT SKY, Augustine (George Clooney) is a dying scientist who opts to remain alone at an Arctic Circle observatory when an incident leaves earth uninhabitable and humans must flee below ground. It's the year 2049. Augustine discovers a young girl (Caoilinn Springall) hiding in the observatory with him. Together, they set out across the inhospitable and dangerous terrain to reach a satellite to try to communicate with a spaceship returning to earth. Augustine wants to warn the crew that they cannot return to earth and should instead turn around. The ship is returning from a planet known as K-23, which they have discovered, thanks to original research by Augustine, can sustain human life. The future of humanity could be up to the members of the crew, which includes couple Sully (Felicity Jones) and Adewole (Davi Oyelowo), as well as the young Maya (Tiffany Boone) and the more veteran Sanchez (Demian Bichir) and Mitchell (Kyle Chandler).

Is it any good?

The Midnight Sky is a film that tries to be epic but doesn't quite spend enough time with any of its characters to generate sufficient emotion. The two parallel storylines do have some interest. In one, a dying, grey-bearded Clooney evokes a combination of human frailty and save-the-species determination. His weary face and physical motions reflect the potential futility of the near-impossible journey he's set out on. It's unusual to see the leading man look so infirm, and this alone creates some intrigue to keep the otherwise slow opening scenes of Clooney shuffling around alone at an Arctic Circle observatory interesting. Ethan Peck also looks and sounds a lot like Clooney as the younger Augustine.

In the parallel story, a group of astronauts steer their spaceship through unchartered space regions to get back to earth. We're meant to connect with each member of the crew through their relationships with each other and their individualized holograms of family life back home. But it's not quite enough to generate the emotion desired when the crew members suffer accidents or put themselves in harm's way. What films like this do have (and is likely better enjoyed on a big screen) is the creative and often quite beautiful invention of other worlds, or our own world made other. The Midnight Sky has one other major facet to it, which is a prominent musical score by Alexandre Desplat that goes way beyond indicating moods and aims to inspire emotion all on its own.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what might have happened on earth to cause the destruction seen in The Midnight Sky. What clues does the film give us?

  • How and why do you think Iris appears to Augustine as a child?

  • George Clooney stars in the film and also directed it. Do you know of other films directed by their stars, and what do you think are the pros and cons of an actor functioning also as director of a movie?

  • What did this film have in common with other apocalypse films? How about other space films you've seen?

  • How did the characters demonstrate courage?

Movie details

Our editors recommend

For kids who love space stories

Character Strengths

Find more movies that help kids build character.

Themes & Topics

Browse titles with similar subject matter.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate

Streaming options powered by JustWatch

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

Our ratings are based on child development best practices. We display the minimum age for which content is developmentally appropriate. The star rating reflects overall quality.

Learn how we rate