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That Sneak Peek Moment in the Midnight Special Trailer

The Film: Midnight Special (2016)

What We Know So Far: A young boy with extraordinary gifts is protected by his father who takes him on the run from a zealot ministry and the U.S. government looking to exploit him.

The Trailer: (Official #1)


Our Take

Dan: The trailer begins with duct tape getting peeled away from a peep-hole in a door. That’s kind of how it feels watching this moody and suspenseful sneak preview. We’re just getting a brief glimpse at what’s really going on. Jeff Nichols, director of the hidden gems Take Shelter (2011) and Mud (2012), known for his artistic camera angles and strong focus on characters, takes on science fiction with his next project. Considering how exciting Nichols makes drama, it’ll be interesting to see him helming something like this supernatural story about a boy with special powers. His earlier work proved he could pull impressive performances from the younger cast-mates. So we’re in good hands. Perhaps the more marketable sci-fi angle of Midnight Special will help make Nichols a more recognized name. To help with recognition, an impressive cast of indie actors leads the way with Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Adam Driver, and Kirsten Dunst. Compelling ensemble aside, the mysterious story is the biggest hook. We don’t learn much yet, but the trailer is sure to tell us “He is not like us” with bold text. They’re really selling the mystery here, folks. And it works. So far, we know the boy is special and his father will do anything to protect him, but we don’t know how he got these powers. What’s the secret storyline? What is coming? David has some interesting theories on what might make this boy so special.

Warner Bros. Pictures
Warner Bros. Pictures

David: It’s difficult to make sci-fi feel fresh these days, but this trailer seems wholly unique with a wonderful start that appears as if a boy has been kidnapped but who is actually being hidden. The cast includes Adam Driver and Sam Shepard as men in the chasing roles though for entirely different reasons and both bring a lot of weight to the trailer, though Michael Shannon who has the most impact as the father. While the trailer (thankfully) doesn’t offer any details about what the child’s powers are or where they come from, there is a sense that it’s not of this earth, and it’s devastating, as a few brief images reveal earthquake-like moments. This is a fantastic trailer and has me truly anticipating something new in the genre that doesn’t involve laser fights and alien attacks, though I can’t deny the vibe of a superhero origin story.


What To Look For in the Trailer

Warner Bros. Pictures
Warner Bros. Pictures

Dan Says: One thing is clear from the trailer, Michael Shannon’s character will do anything to protect his son… even if it puts himself in danger. I’m not just talking about the threat of going to jail for breaking some laws. This kid could be an Icarus sort of nuclear bomb waiting to go off. What if the child can’t control his immense powers and detonates? That’s what makes my Sneak Peak Moment so special. Near the end of the trailer, Shannon hold his son in his arms. The little boy looks up to him and calmly says, “Dad, it’s okay.” The moment resonates because of how it reflects against their relationship. This is also the first time we see the boy without his goggles. There is no energy flaring from within. His eyes are normal. They share a fond look. Then there’s a rumbling. The small boy’s eyes glow from within (perhaps harnessing a dangerous energy). Nichols displays the event in a wide shot of a father and son standing in a field at sunset. Unfortunately, the moment isn’t as beautiful and innocent as it seems. Something dangerous is coming. The edges of the screen begin to pulsate. While this scene builds tension and excitement, it also says something thematically. The use of “Dad” in this snippet of dialogue could suggest a couple of things. 1: The boy developed these powers. Perhaps by an experiment, or like David says, maybe through alien involvement? 2: This adoptive alien (?) has developed a strong and emotional relationship with Shannon’s character. He really feels like his father despite no genetic connection. Of course, this is all just nerdy hypothesizing. This geeky bit goes to show you how an impressive trailer can spark the imagination. Now, imagine how much participation the actual film will encourage? Midnight Special looks like a mystery worth solving.

Warner Bros. Pictures
Warner Bros. Pictures

David Says: The trailer is delightfully ambiguous and flatly refuses to come out say what the boy is, which makes it all the more intriguing. There is speculation and Shepard seems most knowledgeable, or at least confident in his belief that the people he is talking with don’t know what they are dealing with. My Sneak Peek Moment comes when Adam Driver’s character is in a brightly lit, sterile white room hesitantly approaching the boy (who wears tinted diving goggles to apparently suppress powerful beams of light from his eyes) and posits that the boy is weapon while Shepard’s character thinks he is their savior. The boy however, remains utterly still. The moment reveals that at some point, the government gets their hands the boy and tries to understand what he is, and that Driver’s character is mostly likely a kind of Keys (Peter Coyote) character from E. T. the Extra-terrestrial (1982). I really like the mystery of the trailer and have high hopes that Nichols will deliver something intelligent and thought-provoking.

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Director:

Jeff Nichols

Writer:

Jeff Nichols

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