Tony's Take

MIDWAY review

The Turning Point

Roland Emmerich returns with a bang, as he gives us a glimpse at the Pacific Theatre and the events that transpired to bring us into World War II.  “Midway” follows a cocky, arrogant Lieutenant Dick Best (Ed Skrein) as he serves as a pilot on the USS Enterprise.  On the morning of December 7th, the attack on Pearl Harbor is carried-out, bringing the Navy back to the shore.  After learning of his friend’s heroic death, his focus is on only one thing: revenge.  Edwin Layton (Patrick Wilson), Intelligence Officer, tried to warn his superiors about Japan’s motives, but his warning fell on deaf ears.  With the new appointment of Admiral Chester Nimitz (Woody Harrelson), he vows to uncover the future plans of the Japanese fleet.  With fear rising due to a replenished Navy, the events that followed Pearl Harbor were ultimately responsible for us not only surviving the War, but winning it; which has never seemed so truly miraculous and remarkable until you see how the battles came to be.

The disaster genre should surely be named after the Roland Emmerich, with catalog filled with films such as: “Independence Day”, “Godzilla”, “The Day After Tomorrow”, “2012”, and now “Midway”.  The reason he has so much success in this genre is because he knows how to tell a human story.  Anyone can blow things up for 2 hours, but few can/know how to do so while including in-depth storytelling and compelling characters.  “Midway” follows multiple real life people and storylines, ranging from those aboard the Enterprise, those stationed at Pearl Harbor, and from the Japanese side among their fleet.  It was a very neat experience knowing that the people we were real; it added a definitive authenticity and made you truly feel as you watched their fate unfold.  As one would expect, the film did the best they could to find identical likeness when it came to the casting process.  The cast includes, Skrein, Wilson, Harrelson, Luke Evans, Mandy Moore, Dennis Quaid, Aaron Eckhart, Darren Criss, Nick Jonas, and many others.  While they looked like their historical counterparts, they unfortunate didn’t sound like them.  The sacrifice was that many of the actors were not American and their accents were unfortunately very noticeable.

One could easily say that the battles of “Midway” were captivating and eye-appealing, especially the dogfight sequences, but the film relied too heavily on green screens.  Some of the backdrops were laughably fake, taking away from the historic context.  However, the brave decision to include the Japanese perspective worked perfectly, as we got to witness how their battle plans were executed.  During the 138 minute running time, the film weaves its way through history, giving us a clearer picture to those decisive battles and what led to them.  While the film certainly manages to capture your attention, the end result is sadly a little bland.  “Midway” feels very much like a cinematic biography; not that it’s a bad thing, I was just left hoping for more.  It will serve as a great vehicle to educate our youth and I certainly see it being used in the classroom.  With the subject matter it was covering, I was just hoping for brilliance and the film strays far away from it.   

 3/5

MIDWAY is rated PG-13 for sequences of war violence and related images, language and smoking, in theaters NOVEMBER 8TH!