Friday Film Review--"Midway"

Nov 18, 2019

Libby Wadman, with this week’s Friday Film Review, looked at the new movie, “Midway.”   She says that it’s still possible to do a World War II epic right.

Fans of “Independence Day” will be happy to know that director Roland Emmerich is back with a new look at the battle of Midway in the film “Midway”.  This rendition, written by Wes Tooke, a Navy veteran, has nothing to do with the 1976 film of the same name, or any others, except that it depicts the battle of Midway early on in World War II.

Midway is a small island in the Pacific that was hugely important in the war against Japan, as it is about halfway between Japan and the United States. Maintaining control of the island was vital to the outcome of the war in the Pacific. The film, which focuses on the key people on both sides, spans the first 6 months of the war, opening with the attack on Pearl Harbor and closing with the pivotal battle of Midway.

Director Emmerich worked with various people from the Navy and historical organizations to make this film as accurate as possible. Since none of the planes and ships that still exist from that time are outfitted as they were originally, everything had to be created digitally. While there are some gaffes, unless you are an aficionado of WWII military aircraft, these will not detract from the film.

Considering Pearl Harbor had left the US Navy in shreds, it was no simple matter to be battle-ready and take on a Navy far stronger and bigger. Writer Tooke, though, does a good job of distilling this complex story down to a quick, engaging, fairly detailed recounting of what happened leading up to the battle and during the battle itself.

The cast, which includes Woody Harrelson, Aaron Eckhart, Mandy Moore, Nick Jonas and many others, does a great job of embodying the actual people they are portraying.  It is amazing how many of the actors physically resemble their character.

For this reviewer, the best part of the film is the focus on the role of Intelligence and those who interpreted the information. Everything presented in the film, concerning this aspect of the war, is totally accurate and incredibly fascinating.

Other plusses for the film are the cinematography and blending of digital recreation with live action, the basic accuracy of the film and the music. As it should, the soundtrack helps to create the atmosphere and in particular gives the battle scenes an adrenaline-raising effect while remaining in the background. It is worth watching the end credits just to listen to the music on its own with no distractions.

There are 2 major negatives in this film. First, is the exaggeration of pilot Dick Best’s persona.  Best, who in the matter of minutes helped sink 2 Japanese aircraft carriers, in reality was not the cartoonish hotdog pilot portrayed in the film. Second is the highlighting of a couple of historically important people and events. They are introduced, but then dropped without any explanation of what happened, or their importance.

Despite its flaws, “Midway” is a good watch, and does provide a fair amount of information, some of which has not been previously highlighted with such accuracy. “Midway” is a fast paced 2 hours and 18 minutes in length and is rated PG-13 for war violence and its images, language and smoking.

This is Libby Wadman with the Friday Film review, reminding you that film is always fun and fascinating.