hopscotchee: jaeden martell score: 70.5 rating: PG-13 time: 102 minutes
now, if you're thinking, midnight special? 'what basic-titled movie with a well-lined-up cast is this, and why haven't i heard about it before?', you're in the exact same boat as we were. we stumbled upon this movie while crafting batch one of our hopscotch and just from the trailer alone, knew it was a must-watch and needed to be hopped to!! so, after the creation of the seven rule and eleven movies later, we couldn't have been more excited. midnight special is an epic and all-round touching, on-the-run-adventure, that composes pristine and brisk shot comp. and true to life details, keeping your heart on the edge 'til the end.
to start, there is no way we could write this review without mentioning jeff nichols. famous for movies such as mud, take shelter, and loving (or just working with murderous mickey shay), his crackerjack directing and writing skills drop you straight into this film, letting the viewer become quick-witted to the sensories of the story. this tactic ups your intrigue, increasing your attentiveness and keeping the curiosity from the start to the end heightened. in other words this movie does not lose your attention. having that said, yes, this allows a lot of content and action to create a fast and engrossing plot, however the lack of an origin story may be slightly confusing for the audience at the beginning.
though, that being really the only main complaint about the movie, moving on to the thing we absolutely gush over, the cinematography was beautiful, beautiful, beautiful!! like, harry styles golden!! specifically, (spoiler) the shot of the getaway car, where the headlights are shinning and illuminating in contrast to the darkness of the night, as roy and lucas drive alton away from the motel. it was one of the best scenes in the entire film. and this hush-hush, stealth mode behavior totally set up the mood of the movie, letting you know, immediately, that you've settled in for a picante (spicy) outlaw flick. and cunningly so, the night shots also, ironically, were awakening, keeping the audience in an attentive state, as if they are on the run with the characters too. this is where jeff nichols' decision of excluding an origin story and not answering your questions right away becomes such a genie in the bottle (genius move), letting you be able to shape your own experience in the movie and ponder questions such as (spoiler) 'why are they running?' 'is alton being kept hostage?' 'is roy a good or bad guy?' 'what's with the cult?' or 'what's with alton?'. altogether, the open-endedness of the movie's background keeps the hype and anticipation of this movie strong, boosting its enjoyment level.
another, more subtle, addition to the overall suspense of this film was brought on by the characters' costumes. unlike most sci-fi films and their typical sway toward futuristic stylization, the costume designers chose more realistic, everyday, average outfits. for example, the incorporation of flannel, casual button ups, and lots of denim felt natural and gave the illusion that, though it was just a movie, this could actually happen to your day-to-day person. this realism also cultivated a homeyness backbone to the film, which developed a powerful authenticity toward the characters and their relationships.
but, yes, this movie was filled with a ton of subtle genies in the bottles (genius-ness), but a stellar, not so subtle attribute that's is also worth mentioning was the sound mixing. although you may not go into a movie keyed into the audio transitions like us, your feelings and thoughts toward the movie are heavily influenced by it, whether you know it or not, which makes it oh-so-satisfying when it's done in a super crafty and fun way like midnight special. in most suspense driven films you'll go from quiet to loud and loud to quiet to make individual scenes pop or stand out, but, quote former hopscotchee, jake gyllnhaal, "boy, boy, boy" does this strategy radiate in this film. just looking at it from a story progression perspective (spoiler), going from the quiet motel room scenes and silent car rides at the beginning to alton's powers, kidnapping, and epic car crash at the end, was all very balanced and aesthetically pleasing. but also, as a viewer, you feel that intensifying swell of emotion getting louder and louder as you uncover the truth.
but lastly, on top of all of this, how can you not love mickey shay?!?! (that's impossible)
though, we must be honest, midnight special, if you haven't caught on, is a sci-fi (for those who shutter at that word). but, if you're quirky, a science fiction fanatic, or just looking for a movie with spontaneity, this is totally your sun baby!!
-- thanks, jaeden (again) xo