by Patton Engel | December 9, 2019 10:02 am
World War II has seen numerous retellings across a multitude of battles that took place. “Midway” covers the Battle of Midway, perhaps the most decisive naval battle across all of the war, and one that turned the tide for the Americans to defeat the Japanese. “Midway” is director Roland Emmerich’s retelling of the battle of midway, and it follows specific officers and soldiers before and after the battle.
The movie begins 6 months before the battle the movie is named after at Pearl Harbor. The destruction is shown, and the battle is used to set up the main characters, who they are, and the part they are going to play in the Battle of Midway. The movie then jumps from location to location for the next six months until June 4th, 1942, when the Battle actually takes place. “Midway” mostly focuses on the Americans side, as expected, but also gives solid, unbiased insight of the Japanese soldiers and officers. Real stories from real people are focused on throughout the movie, and the stories told are based off of Edwin Layton, Lieutenant Dick Best, Admiral Chester Nimitz, and Commander Wade McClusky and their development from Pearl Harbor to Midway.
As for the cast, Roland Emmerich’s 100 million budget shows with a star studded cast, consisting of Luke Evans, Woody Harrelson, Patrick Wilson, Ed Skrein, Nick Jonas, and a brief appearance from Aaron Eckhart. To be completely honest, no one performance stood out to much. Nick Jonas and Aaron Eckhart both had strong moments in their performances, but they were in minor roles. Aaron Eckhart, playing Jimmy Doolittle, made you want to see more from his story, but his character was not very prevalent to the Battle of Midway. Patrick Wilson and Woody Harrelson had two of the bigger roles in the movie, but a poor script proved unconquerable. The script will be delved into later, but the long dialogue and cheesy one liners didn’t do the A-List actors justice. Unfortunately, the worst peformance came from our lead, Ed Skrein. Similar to Harrelson and Wilson, the script didn’t do him any favors. Skrein, a United Kingdom native, also attempted to use a 1940s New Jersey accent that came off as more of a parody. Overall, the acting wasn’t bad, and it certainly had some nice moments, but far too many speeches and one liners made the movie really feel like it was dragging on.
The best part of this movie by far was the action. The movie begins with Pearl Harbor and ends with the Battle of Midway, and it includes more action scenes in between. Although the green screen presence is felt across all the battles, the action is good. “Midway” provides an accurate retelling of warfare from World War II. Men are shown sacrificing themselves so that bombers can bomb Japanese aircraft carriers, and their shots sometimes don’t hit the first time. Or the second. Or the third. It goes against the Hollywood trope of having them always hit first or second try, and instead keeps it realistic to the story being told. Roland Emmerich successfully does this multiple times during “Midway.” Another example is how Japanese soldiers aren’t demonized for doing their job. After the battle, a Japanese aircraft carrier is sinking, and the head officers are staying on board. Even though they could escape, they feel they’ve failed their men. Some of the soldiers also wish to stay and go down for their country. Across the board, the emotional moments do their job, the fighting, both under the sea and above it, are quality, and action is realistic, making for a solid war movie.
“Midway” is a fine war movie. It doesn’t exaggerate or make up anything, but it doesn’t capitalize on emotion well enough to put it on the level of movies like “Saving Private Ryan.” With a PG-13 rating, violence is to be expected, but the movie isn’t particularly graphic or vulgar in anyway. If someone were to go into “Midway” with no previous knowledge, a lot would be learned, but a lot of questions would still remain. The movie expects the watcher to know a good amount about the Battle of Midway to be able to understand it the best. Roland Emmerich reportedly had always wanted to do a “Midway” movie, and that’s what he did. A lack of character development and a poor script hold it back, but good action makes this a movie worth seeing for the right person.
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