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. T
he 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.
Read the full review at Common Sense Media.