MIDNIGHT Special is like a cross between a comic book film and Spielberg's Close Encounters of the Third Kind.

And with acclaimed filmmaker Jeff Nichols, director of the excellent Take Shelter and Mud, behind the camera there was high hopes that this sci-fi thriller could be his breakthrough.

Unfortunately, the intriguing premise soon runs out of steam despite some hugely promising opening scenes.

Nichols' fourth film is about eight-year-old Alton (Jaeden Lieberher) who has powerful, superhuman abilities that he is barely able to control and an extreme sensitivity to light.

The goggle-wearing youngster is on the run with his dad Roy (Michael Shannon) and friend Lucas (Joel Edgerton) from a cult who have been exploiting Alton's powers and the FBI who are hot on their heels.

Nichols deliberately gives no explanation or backstory explaining why or how this little boy has this gift/curse or how he ended up at a cult and this works in the film's favour at first.

It opens with Alton, Roy and Lucas on the run and the mystery and immediate tension will keep you glued to the screen, leading to a spectacular scene at a petrol station.

But Nichols does not seem to know what sort of film he wanted to make. As a result, later on, it lacks the intensity of a thriller or the sentimentality of a Spielberg movie.

Somewhere in the story there was supposed to be an exploration of the unbreakable bond between father and son but it gets lost.

Midnight Special also suffers from problems with pacing which drains away the tension after an excellent start.

Almost all of the characters are underdeveloped too due to this air of mystery making you care less and less for Alton's supernatural mission.

A let down that could have been out of this world.