Friday, November 8, 2019


Roland Emmerich turns his attention from disaster flicks in favor of one of the worst war films in recent memory. Midway makes Pearl Harbor look good. Theoretically, Midway is about decisive WWII naval battle that turned the tide in the Pacific. In reality, only about half the film deals with the battle as it struggles in fits and starts while failing at offering a broader context leading into the Battle of Midway.
Wes Tooke's script is over-brimming with forgettable characters, bad dialogue, and dramatic interludes where history seems to all but stop. The result is a bland film filled with unremarkable actors giving unremarkable performances during what we're told, but not shown, is an important historical event (that is never really properly put in context).

Rather than offer a central character, the story moves around showcasing various people involved in war effort including analyst Edwin Layton (Patrick Wilson) and maverick fighter pilot Dick Best (Ed Skrein) along with a dozen others who come and go over the course of the film so frequently you forget they were a part of the story (poor Aaron Eckhart).

The mostly inept film does offer some stunning visuals during both the attack on Pearl Harbor and later when the movie gets to Midway itself. Between the two sequences we're forced to sit through some awkward retelling of history, dumbed-down to basic concepts (and at times even directed to the audience as its characters literally yell at us informing which character is the smart one to keep track of). The movie also doesn't do much for its female co-stars who are cast as nothing more than window dressing for their warrior husbands. The use of the Japanese is only slightly better as it reminds us of better movies, such as stealing Admiral Yamamoto's (Etsushi Toyokawa) famous quote from the far superior 1970 film Tora! Tora! Tora!

Over the years Emmerich has been able to make some disaster flicks work where characters are mostly in a state of panic throughout the film. Midway doesn't fit that framework. The script, as poorly as it is written, demands a much larger range of emotion from its actors. Neither the cast nor crew appear up to that challenge. In the middle of the action, though cliche, the film delivers its strongest moments. Taken out of those moments, however, everything begins to fall apart due as much to bad dialogue as staging sequences that do nothing to help frame a larger point to the film or the historical importance of the Battle of Midway.

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