I read the book and watched the Netflix adaptation starring and directed by George Clooney this week. I sometimes sit down to write these comparisons and I don’t know who will come out on top until I’m done typing. That’s not the case with this one. I’ll try to give specifics without spoiling the good stuff.
Story/Plot There are ‘rumors of war’ and the Arctic outpost is being evacuated, but Augustine decides to stay behind, even after being told that there would be no return to pick him up. After a few weeks he discovers a girl who had been left behind. The story then switches to Aether, a spacecraft on its way back from Jupiter (book) or a newly discovered planet near Jupiter (movie) with Sullivan, Sully, as our storyteller. In the book this is a two year mission and it’s only after they wrap up their Jupiter studies, one year and two weeks after leaving earth, and head back home do they realize that they have no communication from Earth. In the movie the timeline is sped up, but the result is the same, no contact with Earth. This is where the book takes on a reflective tone on isolation, hope, and the strength of human spirit. The movie struggles to thrill the audience with gadgets and makes-no-sense scenes. The movie became nonsensical to me. Not to spoil anything, but the contact between the two is not the same. Augustine wasn’t searching for the Aether in the book, they just happened to find each other for 3 short conversations before the end. The movie chose to make this a time driven thriller. Everything they changed for the movie, and it was a lot, was a detriment to the story. Clearly… Thumbs Up – Book
The Visual The movie was beautiful. The stark whiteness of the Artic and the grandness of the Aether. The movie always holds the potential advantage here and The Midnight Sky didn’t disappoint. Thumbs Up – Movie
Characters/Actors Sigh. The movie has some great actors (George Clooney, Felicity Jones, David Oyelowo, Kyle Chandler), but they didn’t hold a candle to the characters in the book. Augustine is dying from old age in the book, but they changed it to him being so sick that he needed to give himself some kind of complicated treatment in the movie. Augustine was much more active in the movie. The space crew was so emotionally raw in the book, each showing their breaking point with every new day that there was no contact from Earth (imagine almost a year of this). Sully was NOT pregnant in the book. I realize that it was written in because Felicity was pregnant in real life. I was okay with this, but she and the rest of the crew (in the movie they were minus one member) really got the short end of the stick in the depth department, even as the holograms tried to humanize them. Thumbs Up – Book
The Ending This is always difficult to discuss without giving too much away and that is especially true in this case. The Aether comes back to see Earth (in the movie it looks like something bad had happened, but in the book it looked the way it always had just with no electricity) and they must make decisions. Things are different between the book and the movie as far as the space crew goes, but it was mostly the same with Augustine. The big reveal? It was more subtle in the book. The ending in the book and movie made some people mad and confused. I happened to like the ending of the book and felt it went perfectly with the intent of the story. As for the movie ending, I don’t know. I was confused by the choices it made. Thumbs Up – Book
And the winner is… the book! And it wasn’t even close.
Other book vs. movie polls you can vote on: (We Have Always Lived in the Castle) (Good Morning, Midnight/ The Midnight Sky) (Before I Go To Sleep) (The Little Prince) (Charlie St. Cloud) (Far From the Madding Crowd) (The Girl on the Train) (Tuck Everlasting) (Northanger Abbey) (Me Before You) (And Then There Were None) (Still Alice) (The Blind Side) (The Fault in Our Stars) (The Hound of the Baskervilles) (Gone Girl) (Jack Reacher) (Ender’s Game) (Carrie, the original) (Under the Tuscan Sun) (The Secret Life of Bees) (The Shining, the original)