‘Midnight Special’ is a better film about faith than ‘faith-based’ films

Midnight SpecialMeanwhile the indie filmmaker Jeff Nichols has been quietly cranking out actual movies about faith, and for snooty, mostly secular art house audiences, no less. Thing is, they’re not about faith in terms of religion. They are, however, about people whose belief in the supernatural — in a world that’s more than what lies in front of our eyes — turns out to be totally justified. “Take Shelter” depicted a family man (Michael Shannon) who swears he’s been having apocalyptic visions, only to (spoiler!) be proven not insane in the final scene.

Nichols’ new “Midnight Special” does something similar but with a retro popcorn entertainment — one part ’80s Spielberg, part John Carpenter’s Spielbergian “Starman.” It follows Alton (Jaeden Lieberher, the not remotely annoying kid Bill Murray bro’d down with in “St. Vincent”), a boy with mysterious superpowers — powers so strong and diverse (he can hear radio signals! he can shoot hypnotic blue rays from his eyes! he can blow up orbiting satellites with his mind!) that he’s sought by pesky government agents and rifle-toting religious fanatics alike.

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