In an age when caped crusaders and serum-infused superheroes rule the silver screen, Jeff Nichols’ MIDNIGHT SPECIAL is a unique, homespun take on the genre, as well as the tried-and-true sci-fi trope of an ordinary person having to protect someone or something of extraordinary (and usually extraterrestrial) power from cruel and science-minded government types, a la STARMAN, E.T., THE IRON GIANT et cetera.
But for everything MIDNIGHT SPECIAL eschews or subverts in terms of comic book clichés, it does share one particular trait with modern superhero movies like, specifically, Zack Snyder’s MAN OF STEEL, and no, we’re not talking about Michael Shannon: we’re talking about the glorification of city destruction.
In their latest video “MIDNIGHT SPECIAL: Rising From The Rubble” – which in the interest of full disclosure I should say I was only able to watch the first couple minutes of as the film is next in my queue and spoilers lurk here – the erudite minds at Digging Deeper have set their analytical sights on how MIDNIGHT SPECIAL isn’t just a superhero film on a small budget, it’s actually a contemplative reaction to the seeming feedback loop in which mainstream media has stalled itself thanks to a fixation with the tendencies of blockbuster superhero movies. How’s that for a mouthful?
What I can say is that for my money Jeff Nichols is one of the most unique and interesting American auteurs to rise to prominence in the last decade, so any examination of any of his work is worth your while. My bet? Another two or three flicks and we’re looking at him with the same doting eyes we use on Paul Thomas Anderson. So check this out, and in the meantime I’m going to go see if I can’t move that movie queue of mine along a little quicker.