And a critique of the critical reviews
I’ve been reading about the Battle of Midway for nearly 50 years and thoroughly enjoyed the movie “Midway (2019).” I honestly can’t think of how to make a better Battle of Midway movie with a running time under 2.5 hours. Any film on the engagement needs to address Pearl Harbor, Doolittle’s Raid, and the code breakers to put the battle in context. That’s a broad time frame with many participants and locations, which makes this subject difficult to cover in the constraints of a movie. Following the Enterprise Air Group was an adept choice by the writer, Wes Tooke. My congratulations to Director Roland Emmerich and his team. “Midway (2019)” honored the men on both sides and treated them with the respect they deserve. I’ve seen most war movies and Midway (2019) is in my top 10. I rate it 8/10.
10 of the men honored by the movie Midway
Top row: Dick Best, Clarence Dickinson, Jimmy Doolittle, William Halsey, Tamon Yamaguchi
Bottom row: Edwin Layton, Eugene Lindsey, Wade McClusky, Chester Nimitz, Isoroku Yamamoto
Considering it’s not a documentary but historical entertainment, it is remarkably accurate. My favorite comment about historical accuracy is from retired Rear Adm. Sam Cox, the director of the Naval History and Heritage Command (NHHC). “I’m glad they did a movie about real heroes and not comic book heroes. Despite some of the ‘Hollywood’ aspects, this is still the most realistic movie about naval combat ever made and does real credit to the courage and sacrifice of those who fought in the battle on both sides.” Personally, the story of how VS-6 pilot Willie West died about two weeks before the battle was another detail in the fabric of the engagement that was new to me.
The critical reviews mention the over-the-top CGI
The over-the-top CGI is often compared to “Star Wars” and I understand. The Zeros strafing Pearl Harbor remind me of the alien air attack on Area 51 in “Independence Day.” And, Lt. Best’s attack on the Akagi harkens to Lando Calrissian’s “YEE-HAA!” while flying out of the exploding Death Star in “Return of the Jedi.” I hope someone figures out how to display proper WWII flight and crash dynamics with CGI during my lifetime. In the meantime, I’ll suspend disbelief and enjoy the current state of the art. It’s far better than the patchwork live-action in “Midway (1976).” On the flip side, the trailers made it clear that this would be the visual look of the movie. If you can’t handle the ‘gamified’ CGI, you should skip “Midway (2019)”.
The critical reviews also mention the lack of exposition/cheesy dialogue
The lack of exposition is likened to hard-charging characters in a Sgt Rock comic or a Clive Cussler novel. As an aside, I’m not a fan of either. But to see period examples of this type of square-jawed dialogue, simply read the letters and diaries of the men who fought at Midway. This style of discourse was typical. And anyone who has served in the military has both stood beside and reported to wanna-be Sgt Rock’s. I graduated from the Air Force Academy in 1982, and at the time, ‘rock’ was a positive nickname for a person with an exemplary military bearing. They exist in peacetime; they exist in wartime. It’s just part of human nature. And the movie does a yeoman job of showing the transition of Ed Skrein as Lt Dick Best from a ‘rock’ to a responsible leader shouldering the bond of other men’s lives.
Actors top row: Ed Skrein, Luke Kleintank, Aaron Eckhart, Dennis Quaid, Tadanobu Asano
Actors bottom row: Patrick Wilson, Darren Criss, Luke Evans, Woody Harrelson, Etsushi Toyokawa