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Film Review: Midway (2019)

Midway (2019) is a war movie telling the story of Pearl Harbor and the events leading to the Battle of Midway during World War II. Directed by Roland Emmerich (most well known for directing Independence Day), this film has a big cast list including Luke Evans, Woody Harrelson, Ed Skrein, Patrick Wilson and Nick Jonas. After the Japanese initiate an attack on Pearl Harbor, the US enter World War II and declare war on Japan, with intercepting messages indicating that Japan is planning to attack the Midway Islands.

Midway (2019) – source: Lionsgate

If the main reason you are excited to check out this film is for an epic depiction of the Battle of Midway, this film handles the battle excellently. The Battle sequences, which do last a decent amount of time for the film, feel thrilling and are well-paced, never running out of steam. The action here feels real, and it is clear that a majority of the CGI and production value was placed on this epic finale. There was real tension and suspense built up in this battle, and the filmmakers were not scared to showcase the danger levels of this major event.

In terms of a story, this is one that I think would work well for this sort of narrative. There is a solid start, conflict and resolution to the story which helped make a cohesive and clear structure. It is also a subject matter that, in terms of World War II, is not covered often. We have all heard of Pearl Harbor, but how many of us have heard the story of the Battle of Midway? I hadn’t before this film, and it is an interesting story to fully explore.

Unfortunately, though, this is quite messy as a film overall. The characters here, whilst presented as heroes and people we should be more aware of in our current times, just seem to be one-dimensional and flat. This is not helped by the performances here, which quite often feel quite flat and with little effort put into them. The only real engaging performance here is by Ed Skrein, who ends up giving the only performance I ended up caring about.

Midway (2019) – source: Lionsgate

I liked the idea of this film presenting the viewpoint of the Japanese team and what their plans were going into the battle, but I ended up finding these sequences really dull and poorly executed. It may have been an interesting take if they had presented the Japanese teams as heroes and civilians as well, rather than just treating them as simply villains as they do here. This just backs up my idea of the film feeling flat and one-dimensional overall.

There is one subplot involving the character of Bruno Gaido, played by Nick Jonas. I basically disliked every single aspect of how this character was played out. It was clear that Jonas was potentially busy at the time of the shooting of this film, so his character is sidelined to a few moments and he randomly pops in and out of the film at the weirdest of moments. His character arc is never fully realised and, as I will repeat in this review again, feels completely flat and one-dimensional.

I complimented the CGI and production work in the final battle sequence here, but I cannot say the same for the rest of the battle sequences throughout the film. The CGI work is particularly poor at the start of the film, as all of the explosions and terror of Pearl Harbor look unfinished and poorly rendered. It was distracting from the start and it took a while afterwards to try and get into the story and the world.

Midway (2019) – source: Lionsgate

The main focus of the film, the battle of Midway itself, is exciting and thrilling to watch. Unfortunately, it takes a full hour and a half to get to that moment and most aspects leading up to the battle fall short. The acting feels like a cash-grab from a majority of actors here, the CGI can look extremely poor at times and there is little effort put into the care of the characters here, particularly on the Japanese side. Considering how busy November is for film releases this year, I would suggest skipping this one out.


Have you seen Midway yet? Did you find it entertaining and exciting, or did you find yourself not caring for the characters and story? Let me know in the comments section and let’s have a discussion.

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