Action / Adventure / Drama / History / War
MIDWAY centers on the Battle of Midway, a clash between the American fleet and the Imperial Japanese Navy which marked a pivotal turning point in the Pacific Theater during WWII. The film, based on the real-life events of this heroic feat, tells the story of the leaders and soldiers who used their instincts, fortitude and bravery to overcome the odds.
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10 Stars from 26-year Navy veteran
This film is a straightforward retelling of the events in the first months of the War in the Pacific beginning with Pearl Harbor and culminating in the Battle of Midway (June 1942). In between, it also touched on Doolittle's Raid on Tokyo (April 1942) and the Battle of Coral Sea (May 1942). The story was told mainly from the point of view of two American soldiers, namely pilot Lt. Dick Best (Ed Skrein) who led his dive bomber squadron at Midway, and intelligence officer Lt. Comm. Edwin Layton (Patrick Wilson) who with his code-breaker team predicted the Midway attack.
Along the way, we meet other famous American soldiers: Admiral Chester Nimitz (Woody Harrelson) Commander in Chief of the US Pacific Fleet; Vice Admiral William "Bull" Halsey (Dennis Quaid) who led the aircraft carrier USS Enterprise; Rear Admiral Raymond Spruance (Jake Weber) who took over the Enterprise for the Battle of Midway; Best's fellow aviators Lt. Comm. Wade McClusky (Luke Evans), Lt. Comm. Eugene Lindsey (Darren Criss) and Lt. Comm. Jimmy Doolittle (Aaron Eckhart); cryptographer Commander Joseph Rochefort (Brennan Brown) and Aviation Machinist Mate Bruno Gaido (Nick Jonas).
The side of the Japanese Imperial Army and their unique military culture were also given fair screen time in this film. Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto (Etsushi Toyokawa) of the Imperial Japanese Navy and the Commander in Chief of their combined fleet, was portrayed with calm and quiet dignity. We also get to meet other Japanese officers and their own brands of leadership Rear Admiral Tamon Yamaguchi (Tadanobu Asano) who commanded the Hiryu with nobility, and Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo (Jun Kunimura) whose controversial battle decisions had negative impact against the Japanese campaign.
The execution of the critical battle scenes are the main draws to watch this film. Director Roland Emmerich will always be remembered as the man who brought us "Independence Day" (1996) and "2012" (2009). Of course, there are big explosions and massive destruction here as well. The massive scenes showing fiery exploding seacraft and aircraft were rendered with crisp cinematography and meticulous visual effects to create impressive screen spectacles. The aviation scenes, particularly the dive bomber runs by Dick Best, were excellently staged, shot and edited to elicit an exhilarating rush.
For its 2 hours 18 minute run, the story of the crucial naval battles and the heroism of its real-life protagonists were front and center here in "Midway." There were no fictional characters or cheesy love stories like in the first "Midway" film or "Pearl Harbor." While seeing some popular young actors like Criss or Jonas can be distracting, the all-star cast generally rendered honor and respect to the heroes they portrayed. Focusing on soldiers of lesser rank allowed for some intimate personal drama in actual battle situations, perhaps with not much depth as possible. As this movie is rated PG, so do not expect to see graphic injuries at the level of "Saving Private Ryan."
Account of Crucial Naval Battle in Emmerich Style
First, I'll agree that the filmmakers got a lot of details right: The timing of the U.S. attacks when the Japanese were caught in the rearming process. The poor performance of the Devastator TBD. Faulty torpedoes. The politics of the Japanese military. The fast turn-around getting Yorktown out to sea again. And lots more.
But the errors, embellishments and omissions were glaring: The Marshal Islands attack was ridiculously inflated. The Kamikaze hit on Enterprise during that battle (complete with Nick Jonas saving the day) never took place. The complete absence of American fighter planes on the American carriers. American attackers going in and facing anti aircraft fire without having first been jumped by Zeroes, and the missing dogfights via F4F fighter escorts. SBDs blowing Zeros out of the sky. Taking the time to depict John Ford as a brave movie maker on Midway, yet not showing Marine Fighter Squadron 221, flying antiquated equipment, going out to meet the incoming Japanese attackers against overwhelming odds and pretty much getting slaughtered. Yorktown's involvement in the battle reduced to one scene where she is burning, depicted from afar. The Nautilus getting depth-charged U-571 style. The ships in both fleets in such tight formations, it's more like a photo op than a battle formation.
So many worthwhile details that could have been made right in the same screening length, if they would have simply ditched the goofy Doolittle sequence. I love Aaron Eckhart, great actor, but his scenes in China had no place in a movie called "Midway," if the price was cutting out major elements of the Midway battle.
Maybe I'm being picky, but when they go out of their way to glorify John Ford, while leaving out a squadron of Marine fighter pilots that sacrificed themselves so valiantly, it just strikes me as typical Hollywood b.s.
Hollywood actually made a decent war movie without pushing a political agenda
Abundant, not-quite-realistic computer-generated images make Midway look more like a video game than a depiction of real-life events. The overuse of subpar effects is the most dominant - but hardly the only - problem dogging this film. Epic war stories are difficult to tell without focusing on a few characters. This film unsuccessfully juggles too many plot threads and too many characters to keep an emotional anchor to the simulated events unfolding. Woody Harrelson is outstanding, but other cast members cannot overcome the limitations of the material and the challenges of acting on computer-generated sets.
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Can't get on board with the positive reviews
I am a veteran and this was a hit. The special effects were good and I don't understand why people were saying it was too much. The characters were evenly played out in the movie and there was no stupid romance part that was in the last Pearl Harbor movie. It told the story amazingly and it dived right into what it's all about. You don't need too much character development to tell a story of four people during that time. It was such a great watch and I Definatley recommend it. It ranks up there as we were soldiers! It's been a long time a good war movie came out and this was it. And when you see other reviews about it's a disgrace to veterans don't listen to those reviews. Obviously they haven't been through tough times such as how these people lived. I was in live fire so I can compare. Enjoy the movie is amazing!