review by Bobby Blakey
Over the years there have been many films focused on the Battle of Midway but to me there can never be too many of them bringing this epic piece of history to life. The latest aptly titled Midway stars Luke Evans, Woody Harrelson, Patrick Wilson, Dennis Quaid, Nick Jonas, Aaron Eckhart, Mandy Moore and Ed Skrien from Independence Day and Stargate director Roland Emmerich. Could this film do this historical battle justice or will it crash and burn?
Midway centers on the Battle of Midway, a clash between the American fleet and the Imperial Japanese Navy which marked a pivotal turning point in the Pacific Theater during WWII. The film, based on the real-life events of this heroic feat, tells the story of the leaders and soldiers who used their instincts, fortitude and bravery to overcome the odds. I love movies like this recreating these iconic moments in history, but always a little nervous to see how it’s going to work. More often than not Hollywood feels the need to inject some sort of unnecessary elements to push the story forward as opposed to letting the story speak for itself. Thankfully this is not one of those films and while not everything works it still manages to deliver.
Right out of the gate after meeting most of the cast we dive into the attack on Pearl Harbor which is a pretty great spectacle. The main focus to this entire movie is obviously the battle of Midway so this opening battle along with everything else is driving the story towards that. The cast are all great, but not sadly a lot of them get very little to do. A lot of the portrayals came off more Hollywood than realistic in my opinion, but it doesn’t hurt the overall film. I would have loved to see more depth to the characters and their performances to help give you that impact when some of them suffer tragedy. Instead it keeps that focus towards the impending battle and they sometimes become secondary. Skrien does a decent job at leading the charge, but of the pilots not the one I
would have thought that would have been in that role.
The bigger names like Harrelson, Quaid and Wilson are in varying commanding positions and all work to perfection. Jonas has a very small role, but with a big impact that are great moments in the film outside of his kind of throwaway final scene which is big but needed more. The biggest miss was Eckhart’s story which could make a great story on its own. He shows up with a seeming big mission and then it seems to be over with very little fair. I know this isn’t the focus of the film, but for the length of this movie I would have expected more for this story.
Obviously for a film like this to work the biggest issue is how the battle sequences deliver and they are a great payoff. The way they are shot sometimes put you in a place like you are in the pilot’s seat and take you right into the battle while others are just a feast of the senses. I think part of the problem is that there is so much here that it was just not enough time to make it all work the way it should. Despite this it is still a great war movie that shows respect for both sides of the battles, which I loved as opposed to making good and bad guys. The ending also offers up info to this brave heroes and what happened after the war that is perfection to cap this flick.
In addition to the film this release offers up bonus content including commentary, trailer and numerous featurettes taking you behind bringing this historical event to life. Fly into battle and grab your copy of Midway available now on digital, 4K Ultra, Blu-ray and DVD from Lionsgate Home Entertainment.