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In the beginning of the film Midnight Special, we see a boy, Alton, who has been kidnapped or so we are lead to believe. We soon figure out that he’s been taken by his biological father (Michael Shannon), away from a Branch Davidian-type cult that’s exploiting Alton for his powers. This is, by far, the best point in the film. We’re excited to see what’s about to happen. Somebody’s got a secret. There’s going to be a cool twist somewhere! Don’t hold your breath. Certain things always remain unclear. At times this feels intentional. Not using contrived means of letting us in on what’s happening–instead, revealing it to us slowly throughout the movie. But what seems artistic at first, soon makes you realize that maybe it’s just done as a means to fill up its runtime. The acting is very impressive. Everyone is perfectly believable in their own respective roles. But unfortunately, that technique–the ambiguous exposition one–also contributes to us feeling like we don’t really know our characters very well. It’s hard to get attached. It’s even harder to care. The issue is this film commits way too much to the “realism” aspect of its “magic realism” label. We don’t get enough of what sets it apart from other movies with similar story lines.