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Reviews » Blu-ray Reviews » Midnight Sun (Blu-ray)
Midnight Sun (Blu-ray)
Universal // PG-13 // June 19, 2018 // Region A
List Price: $17.96 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by Ryan Keefer | posted August 17, 2018 | E-mail the Author
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The Movie:

I'll give the romantic film genre credit; given how much the ground has been tread and retread on, when you get an interesting pitch that you're unaware of, you're curiosity gets a little piqued. To be clear, the film Midnight Sun sets up its pitch from the jump, so you're going to be in or out early, and if you go in, you're going to have to buckle up for the better or (usually) worse.

The film is based on a 2006 Japanese film of the same name, adapted for American audiences by Scott Speer (Step Up All In), who directed the film based on a screenplay from Erick Kirsten, with his first writing credit. Katie Price (Bella Thorne, Blended) is born with a genetic condition that renders any exposure to sunlight as potentially fatal. So she's forced to live in her home and sleep during the day while doing her school stuff and extracurriculars at night, loyally supported by her Dad, Jack (Rob Riggle, 21 Jump Street). A neighborhood kid named Charlie (Patrick Schwarzenegger, Grown Ups 2 and yes, son of Arnold) takes an interest in her and the movie follows the two around as they try and make a relationship in the darkness work (Hey, look at that marketing pitch!). So in essence, we have a teenaged girl who is a vampire and Rob Riggle doing dramatic work. Sounds like a winner!

OK, maybe I'm being a little glib. Because while it is funny to see Riggle generate onscreen tears, he comes off as the fun, nice, and caring person you'd expect to carry some of the weight that the younger actors can't pull off. And the explanation that puts Katie into her home and room is heartfelt and earnest, so you can go along with it for however long you choose to. And the performances are average, and complement one another well, and the rapport between Thorne and Schwarzenegger seems authentic as much as a movie with a pseudo vampire girl and soft spoken boy can do.

Modest performances, maybe even kind of surprising but the problem in Midnight Sun is that it wraps both arms around its premise so hard that it goes from wanting to be Love Story to causing some unintentional laughs in moments that shouldn't allow for it. But look if you're going to stick to this premise to a T, things like this are going to happen. A stray thought since I'm here; without having seen it, I'm going to guess the Japanese film had a little charm that the American version tried, but failed to reach up to. And if it didn't, what was the point of bringing this to Western audiences more than a decade later?

I don't mind silly premises to kick a movie off, but sticking to it to the detriment of an overall story just makes the experience worse, despite some adequate performances. The leads are nice (and holy cow do I feel old now that I'm seeing an early 20s Schwarzenegger bumping around in 2018) and Riggle is a surprise, but this thing just feels like a silly exercise that could have had more thought put into it.

The Blu-ray:
The Video:

Universal presents Midnight Sun in an AVC encoded 2.40:1 widescreen transfer and given that most of the film occurs at night, the black levels hold up to scrutiny whether it's in the family home with the ‘specially darkened' windows or when Dad's darkroom contrasts with red light against it. There are occasional lighter colors that appear natural and not oversaturated, and flesh tones are also faithful. It doesn't drop jaws, just looks good.

The Sound:

It is expected that a recent studio release would get a DTS-HD MA soundtrack, but it was a more dynamic experience than I was expecting. When Katie and Charlie go out into the Seattle night, the ambient effects of weather and crowds are natural and convey some immersion to them, particularly during the sequence when they get into a club. Dialogue is straightforward and well-balanced through the film and consistent to boot, but doesn't get many opportunities to stretch its legs. When it does it sounds good.

The Extras:

You get "An Inside Look" (2:21), which is a brief and superficial look at the film.

Final Thoughts:

At its core, Midnight Sun has its heart in the right place, and doesn't do much to grow out of that shell to become anything resembling a memorable movie. Technically it's fine and the lack of supplemental material remains a personal sore spot with me on recent releases, but a trivial one I guess. Nevertheless, there's a bunch of other romantic dramas out there that I'd watch before coming across Midnight Sun on my queue.

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