There are two kinds of war films produced around the world; the aim of one is to make money while the purpose of the other is to make the audience relive history, and appreciate the heroes. Midway falls into the latter category as it takes you back into 1941 when Pearl Harbor was attacked, and the Battle of Midway proved to be the turning point of the Second World War.
Director Roland Emmerich must be commended for handling the film in such a manner that even those who fought in the war (the four remaining veterans) loved it. It was different from the Charlton Heston-starrer and while people would debate that the 1976 version was better due to an ensemble cast, this one isn’t far behind. In fact, it has taken advantage of the technological advancements in filmmaking to come up with a slightly different execution.
Midway is based on true events that took place after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, and made the United States enter a war they weren’t part of. It chronicles the heroic actions of brave American soldiers who gave the Battle of Midway everything they had and changed the course of the war. How they managed to overcome the tragic loss of soldiers in Pearl Harbor, and what were the reasons that made them go full throttle towards Midway, this film tells you all. The film also shows that in 1941, Japan had a better Navy yet they succumbed to the confidence of American seamen who first beat them strategically and continued it till the won the war, morally.
Like the classic War films of the 1970s and the 1980s, Midway is loaded with action sequences that will blow your mind. Every actor in Hollywood who could be in the Army is part of this flick’s ensemble cast and if these two reasons don’t make you go and watch the film in cinemas, I don’t know what will. It brings to screen for the second time the devastation of Pearl Harbor as well as the battle of Midway, but together for the first time in one film. Add some action sequences that end with torpedoes hitting the battleships or fighter pilots escaping enemy gunfire while delivering the ‘package’ and you get a perfect war film, after a long time. Kudos to the film’s cinematographer who captures the action as if it was happening in front of you. The narrative is easy to understand here, making it a little better than the Midway (1976) which had to resort to racism, a few fictitious characters and too much emphasis on war lingo to keep the audience on the edge of their seats.
Had a well-known actor been cast in place of Ed Skrein, who played Lieutenant Richard Dick Best, the film would have come out much better. Not only was his lisp too distracting, but the 36-year-old British actor also looked too erratic to be an airman. Other actors such as Luke Evans (also Welsh), Woody Harrelson, Nick Jonas, and Patrick Wilson looked like soldiers, but not Ed Skrein. Then there was the case of neutrality; a lot of screen time is given to the Japanese soldiers as well, time that could have been used in a better manner – by highlighting the family life of those who lost their lives in Pearl Harbor and those who went to avenge them. Actress Mandy Moore plays the wife of Ed Skrein’s character, doesn’t get the required time to establish her character. The same goes for Aaron Eckhart who was barely in the film for half a dozen minutes, although his character Doolittle had a lot to do on the ground. The drama is there but it could have been cut down by half an hour, making the film more crisp and engaging.
The Verdict 3/5
Midway might not do well at the box office but that’s because it released a week after Terminator: Dark Fate and one week before Charlie’s Angels and Ford vs Ferrari. However, for those who are into war films, its release is the most important thing on Veterans Day weekend. It has all the ingredients a good war film should have, whereas the brilliant dog fight sequences are the highlight of the film. After the film ends on a high note, you are surprised to find out that most of the actors were selected for the film because of their physical resemblance to the original soldiers. On the whole, it manages to educate the audience regarding the tragic events of the Second World War and makes you feel proud, even though it was an an all-American story featuring Naval Battleships and fighter planes. Watch the Midway only if you are a fan of War films so that you could tell your children that you knew about the battle that changed the course of World War II and shaped the way to a better world.