Midnight Special (Blu-ray) (2016)

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Due Out for Sale 24-Aug-2016

Cover Art

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Science Fiction Featurette-Making Of-Origins
Featurette-Making Of-The Unseen
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 2016
Running Time 111:55
RSDL / Flipper No/No Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 2,4 Directed By Jeff Nichols

Roadshow Home Entertainment
Starring Michael Shannon
Jaeden Lieberher
Joel Edgerton
Kirsten Dunst
Sam Shepherd

Case ?
RPI ? Music David Wingo

Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1 (640Kb/s)
German Dolby Digital 5.1 (640Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.35:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.35:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
French for the Hearing Impaired
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

Let the Midnight Special shine a light on me

There are a few things that American director and screenwriter Jeff Nichols adores. He likes complicated characters, dogged but flawed. He also, when it comes to science fiction, has a tendency towards the thoughtful side of the genre. Perhaps what he adores most is actor Michael Shannon who has appeared in all of the directors seven films. With an actor of his calibre on board that can never be a bad thing.

Midnight Special features Shannon as Roy Tomlin who, with his friend Lucas (Joel Edgerton) is an apparent kidnapper of a young boy Alton (Jaeden Lieberher). However, despite TV reports describing the boy as having been abducted the picture is not so simple. It turns out that Alton is not your usual child. He has seemingly paranormal powers - he hides away during the day and wears goggles at night. When he removes the goggles a powerful light emerges from his eyes and enrapturing the viewer but sometimes causing damage.

This power led him to be seen as a saviour by the religious cult at The Ranch, operated by their leader played by Sam Shepard. Alton was kidnapped all right but it was by his actual father, Roy, saving him from The Ranch. In return the leader dispenses two of the groups most capable and toughest men to bring Alton back. Also on the boy's trail is the US government. It turns out that Alton is able to receive and describe national secrets taken from encrypted networks. They see the boy as a power either for good or for bad. NSA agent Paul Sevier (Adam Driver) is put in charge of the case.

The Midnight Special was a train that ran through the night in the US. Besides being a popular song it is also symbolic of the journey that Alton has to take to avoid being exposed to daylight. According to a series of numbers that the boy has spoken it is crucial that he gets to a certain location by a specific time, although everyone has their theories on what might happen when they get there.The Ranch believe that it marks the Apocalypse and if they are not with Alton they will be lost.

On the way Roy and Lucas stop in to visit the boy's mother played by Kirsten Dunst who joins in the quest with the same urgency.

Despite being a science fiction movie Midnight Special uses CGI at only key points to great effect. This is essentially a drama about the challenges of faith. Like Jeff Nichols earlier work Take Shelter this is a fairly serious film and Shannon plays the father with a grim determination to see the quest completed. Australian Joel Edgerton makes a great companion to Roy. As a state trooper he is troubled by the lengths to which Roy is prepared to go to see the boy reach his destination. As Alton Jaeden Lieberher is quiet and restrained. Some may recognise him from his role as Bill Murray's protégé in the recent film St Vincent as well as the son of Michael Sheen in Masters of Sex.

It is a great cast through and through and includes Bill Camp who is currently playing Detective Box in the HBO series The Night of. There are Spielbergian elements in the story of a child with special powers and the conclusion may not please those looking for a grittier ending. However Midnight Special is perhaps the most interesting science fiction film in recent times along with Ex Machina.

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Transfer Quality



Midnight Special comes to Blu-ray in a 2.35 transfer consistent with the original cinema release. It was shot on 35mm film, a rarity these days, and has a nice filmic look throughout.

The transfer is of good quality throughout. The film is largely shot at night and makes no effort to look pretty. The escapees spend most of their time hiding out in dingy hotel rooms and visiting truck stops.

The flesh tones are accurate. The image quality is crisp and pleasing. There are no defects in the visual presentation of the film.

There are subtitles in English for the hearing impaired. As well there is a host of other subtitles including French, German, Danish, Dutch, Finnish, Icelandic, Norwegian, Swedish and French descriptive.

Video Ratings Summary
Shadow Detail
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts



The primary soundtrack for Midnight Special is an English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 track.

The Blu-ray also contains French and German Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks running at 640 Kb/s.

This is a good soundtrack for the film. Dialogue can be heard clearly although the main characters have thick accents. Surrounds are used throughout to give a strong sense of tension and ambience.

The sub woofer provides a constant companion during some of the heart pounding chase scenes.

The tension is ramped up by the throbbing soundtrack of David Wingo, who worked on Nichols other films.

Audio Ratings Summary
Audio Sync
Surround Channel Use


There are only two short extras with the film:

Origins (12.36)

This featurette includes a series of short interviews with the director and cast about their characters, providing some intersting insight into the film.

The Unseen (5.12)

Director Nichols relates the story of how his own child suffered a seizure and he became sharply aware of his own connection to his son's pain. This gave him the idea to create a film that pays tribute to the science fiction chase movies of the 80's. This deals with the CGI effects of Altons world.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

  The Region B version is the same as that available in Region A. Buy local.


Midnight Special could perhaps be seen as a more serious version of Starman, without the love story. It is essentially a chase film with Roy trying to get his son to a certain location without quite knowing the outcome. It failed at the box office which is a great pity as it provides a great counterpoint to CGI heavy science-fiction cinema.

Ratings (out of 5)


© Trevor Darge (read my bio)
Thursday, August 18, 2016
Review Equipment
DVDCambridge Audio 752BD All Region Blu-ray, using HDMI output
DisplayJVC DLX 700 with 4K e-shift on 140" Screen. Calibrated with Video Essentials/Digital Video Essentials. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 1080p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with Ultimate DVD Platinum.
AmplificationPioneer SC -LX 78K 9.2 Channel
SpeakersAaron ATS-5 7.1

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