The Battle of Midway in 1942 was a significant battle in World War II in the Pacific as it turned the tide of the war for the United States against the Japanese. When I had heard that a movie for that battle was coming out, I was excited as the Battle of Midway had not gotten its own wide released movie before. What got me sold was that one of the leads of the movie was Patrick Wilson, who I thought was phenomenal in Aquaman. So I decided to go see Midway on Veteran’s Day with seven other friends, and as someone who is familiar with its history and a film enthusiast, I left the theater satisfied.
Midway is a film that recounts the events leading up to the Battle of Midway and the battle itself. Some of the events they show that help leads us up to the battle include the bombing at Pearl Harbor and the Doolittle Raid. Then, they showed the actual battle where the Americans were able to push back the Japanese and turn the tide of the war in favor of the United States.
This was a loaded cast in the movie that included Patrick Wilson as the naval intelligence officer, Woody Harrelson as the naval commander, Ed Skrein and Luke Evans as naval pilots, and Aaron Eckhart. Wilson is what sold on me on wanting to see this movie and as I expected, he was great in the movie. I felt the most genuine emotion from him as he watched the bombing of Pearl Harbor take place and he was placed in situations throughout the film that required him to make stressful and tough decisions. He and Woody Harrelson just talking about the situations of the war was some of the best scenes of the movie. You can really feel the stakes and tension as they are figuring out their next moves.
When it comes to those fighting, the performances are serviceable but are nothing special. The performances feel overly dramatized and unnatural. While it is war, it feels like the characters who are stationed on the USS Enterprise, are overdramatic to fit in a specific military stereotype, like the nervous young soldier, the strict commander, and the reckless but patriotic soldier. They worked for the film, but could have been more natural to make the audience feel more in the scene.
The film itself looked beautiful when there wasn’t fighting. The scenery in the Pacific was stunning to look at and the different locations that the film cut to looked realistic and beautiful. It did a great job of putting the audience in the time of the war-stricken early 1940’s. However, the fighting itself looked like typical Roland Emmerich (director of the film) CGI explosion-filled scenes. There is a recurring shot where a plane is diving toward an aircraft carrier while bombarded by enemy fire. The shot looks the same even though the scene where it occurs is different each time. The movie built up to the fights well, but the fights themselves suffered from too much CGI and some poor editing.
The flow of this movie is a positive aspect of this movie. While there are a couple scenes in the movie that don’t feel necessary in the grand scheme of the movie, it builds up to the Battle of Midway very well. You see the motivations of both sides, including getting a good view of the Japanese side of the war, and you get a very good idea of why this battle was significant. Almost every moment builds up the tension very well, and it does a great job telling the story of the build-up.
The last aspect I’ll touch on is the Japanese perspective of the film. I love this as it gave the Japanese character and reasonable motivations. One big reason the Japanese attacked the United States is the US cut out their supply of oil. I was worried the movie would play up the Japanese as a purely evil enemy who wanted world domination and they kept that realistic. The film at the end stated how this movie was dedicated to those who fought at Midway and that makes me respect this movie.
Overall, this film is worth seeing. It does a great job telling the story of the Battle of Midway, and it shows both sides of it, and there are a lot of great character moments in this movie. If you don’t mind some overdramatic performances and some bloated CGI scenes, then this will be a good experience.