This long-awaited sci-fi bummer from Jeff Nichols is an admirable mixed bag, an attempt to make a Spielbergian magical child movie without any style or spark. The film stars Michael Shannon as the father to an inexplicably telepathic and extrasensory child, both of them escapees from a religious cult called The Ranch, on the run with family friend Joel Edgerton toward an unknown destiny. Much like Nichols’ last movie, Mud, the film starts strong but loses its way, and there are enough narrative dead ends (e.g., the machinations of The Ranch and its figureheads matter a lot and then don’t, and then kind of do again and then don’t) and superfluous characters (the Edgerton character seems wholly unnecessary) to suggest a troubled post-production and a reduced running time. Whatever the case, the film never quite satisfies as genre entertainment or as big-ideas cinema, and emotional investment is weirdly minimal. D.B.