Friday, April 8, 2016

‘Midnight Special’ explores finding ourselves

“Midnight Special” (2016). Cast: Michael Shannon, Joel Edgerton, Kirsten Dunst, Jaeden Lieberher, Adam Driver, Sam Shepard, Bill Camp, Scott Haze, Paul Sparks, David Jensen. Director: Jeff Nichols. Screenplay: Jeff Nichols. Web site. Trailer.

We all possess our own special talents and abilities, and managing them is generally feasible with the right guidance. But what would happen if we were to start exhibiting capabilities that are literally alien to this world? That can be especially complicated when the individual in question is a child, one who has his own challenges with learning how to fit into a world he barely knows – let alone one in which he is decidedly different from everyone else around him. Such is the scenario that plays out in the enigmatic new sci-fi adventure, “Midnight Special.”

Who exactly is Alton Meyer (Jaeden Lieberher)? The sometimes-gifted, sometimes-troubled young boy is seen by some as a savior (especially by his adoptive father (Sam Shepard), a cult leader who considers the child an avatar), while others (particularly those in the government, such as NSA analyst Paul Sevier (Adam Driver)) view him as an unknown enigmatic force, possibly even a weaponized human. But to Roy Tomlin (Michael Shannon), the boy’s birth father, Alton’s merely his son, and he’s in trouble. So, with the aid of his wife, Sarah (Kirsten Dunst), and a childhood friend, Lucas (Joel Edgerton), Roy is determined to get Alton the help he needs.

Superficially speaking, that help would appear to involve protecting Alton from his would-be captors, as well as obtaining specialized (but largely undetermined) treatment for an array of unusual health conditions. But, as Roy and his companions are well aware, Alton primarily needs help in coming to terms with who he really is. Considering the boy’s special skills, such as his uncanny knack for picking up and vocalizing radio signals (including those in languages he doesn’t speak) and his ability for cryptically conveying information through intense light beams that shoot out of his eyes, Alton’s obviously not your average kid. At the same time, he must also learn to cope with certain challenges, such as an adverse reaction to sunlight, necessitating him to wear goggles and to spend all of his waking time only at night.

Together, Roy, Sarah and Lucas need to unlock the doors that will help Alton understand the meaning of his life and his reason for being here. But, to do that, they must stay ahead of those who want to capture him for their own questionable purposes. These circumstances prompt them to take to the road, a journey that leads them across the American South. This trek turns out to be an odyssey of adventure and peril – not to mention heartfelt self-discovery.

As this incredible journey unfolds, with all its unusual twists and turns, the questions that keep coming up are, “Who is this kid?” and “Why does he possess these particular skills?” Ultimately, though, those are questions that Alton would like answered as much as viewers would. In fact, the search for such answers about ourselves is at the core of everyone’s story. Learning about ourselves in this way is a journey that we must all go through, and this film provides a compelling and insightful example of that process, especially when it comes to discovering and tapping into our singular gifts, talents and abilities.

One of the most effective ways of learning about ourselves involves understanding why our lives unfold as they do, a process that calls for getting in touch with our innermost thoughts, beliefs and intents. This is important, for these are the cornerstones of conscious creation, the philosophy and practice responsible for the manifestation of the reality we experience. Once we understand this, matters tend to become clear, and our destiny effortlessly materializes before us like the pages of an opening book.

Alton’s experience is particularly illustrative by showing us the potential that resides within each of us. This involves the discovery of those aforementioned gifts, talents and abilities, including both those of which we’re aware, as well as those that lie latent and await activation. When those attributes are ignited by the flame of belief, they spring forth into being, birthed into full-blown manifestation, even if we once doubted their existence or their capability for realization.

This is the challenge that Alton undergoes in the course of his journey, but he encounters his share of difficulties. Those obstacles arise from either a lack of awareness of, or an unwillingness to embrace, the beliefs that constitute his true self. However, once he overcomes these issues, he’s free to allow his genuine being to shine through (pun intended). It’s something we all go through, too, albeit usually somewhat less dramatically, but the underlying principle is fundamentally the same in each case – and for all of us.

Once our true self emerges, it opens up worlds of possibility, again, both for Alton and for all of us. Such experiences frequently show us that we’re far more than we think we are, both in terms of our capabilities and our understanding of our intrinsic multidimensional nature. This enlarged and clarified awareness enables us to fulfill that aforementioned potential, something that has the possibility to benefit both ourselves and others – and often in immeasurably untold ways.

“Midnight Special,” in my opinion, is what a science fiction movie should be – a gripping, smartly written adventure that hooks the audience early on and keeps viewers riveted all the way through. Director Jeff Nichols cleverly parcels out just enough information to keep us interested without divulging the whole story prematurely or all at once, keeping the picture from turning into an exercise in predictability. Its simple but effective special effects, coupled with thrilling but not overlong action sequences, make for exciting viewing. The film’s climax is, admittedly, slightly stretched out, but that’s a small price to pay for everything else this well-crafted release has to offer. If you like a hefty dose of intelligence and sophistication with your science fiction, don’t miss this one.

Coming to terms with who we are can be a challenging, perhaps even frightening, prospect, especially when we’re unaware of how and why things are happening. But the rewards that emerge from an enlightened understanding of this process can be astounding, often with far-reaching impact. Approaching this process with courage and a willingness to embrace the truth can reveal mysteries and miracles beyond description, making the journey well worth the effort.

Copyright © 2016, by Brent Marchant. All rights reserved.

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