Based on Salman Rushdie's 1981 Booker Prize winning novel, and adapted by Rushdie himself, Midnight's Children does its best to translate the story's mix of historical document and magical realism. But despite everyone's best intentions, it never becomes much more than a pretty but pointless time-passer.
Beginning in 1917 India, the story tells how Saleem's (Satya Bhabha) grandparents met, moving forward to tell how his parents met, and eventually how he came to be born at the stroke of midnight on the day India gained its Independence from the United Kingdom in 1947. At the hospital he had been switched with Shiva (Siddhart) who went on to live with his poor street performing "father", while Saleem gets taken home by a rich, successful family. But it turns out that Saleem, Shiva and every other child born around midnight of his country's independence have been gifted with super powers, and as the children grow up with this country in a constant state of turmoil, the kids' paths all begin to converge.
Set against the constantly stunning backdrop of India's natural beauty, Midnight's Children is never less than interesting, but considering the story elements involved, is far from the movie it should have been. The kids' super powers range from the turning people to stone with a single glance to the ability to fly, but we never actually get to see any of these powers. Instead we're stuck with Saleem's power, which is the ability to telepathically link all of the other super-powered kids, which is a pretty sucky power when you think about it. On top of that, the movie is set against some pretty huge historic landmarks - India's independence, the India/Pakistan war, the emancipation of Bangladesh - but instead of being tied into the main story, they feel like non-events.
Despite this, the central story of Saleem's upbringing is involving and entertaining, and the elongated running time flies by thanks to the superb visuals and decent acting. But unlike the must-read book it's based on, this never books a must-watch movie. Instead it's a maybe-watch on a rainy Sunday afternoon if there's literally nothing else on.
Review by Sarah Doran | 17:50 | Wednesday 12th December 2012 | Movie Review