As I went to see “Midway," it told a story of why we won the war; I came into the movie with a very different expectation in mind. Though it does in fact tell the story of the Battle of Midway, the turning point in the Pacific during World War 2, I had thought the movie would be solely focused on said battle. I was wrong. “Midway,” directed by Roland Emmerich, instead puts the focus on the men who were integral to the path to that legendary battle.
Prior to the theater going dark, I had only glimpsed the trailer for this movie. I didn’t even know how long the run time was. As a result, I found myself concerned throughout about how much time they were going to commit to the battle itself.
In fact, many things about the movie concerned me as I viewed it. The details and intersecting plots of the film during the first and second acts felt vague and fragmented, bouncing between characters and dates and major events leading up to Midway. Furthermore, the dialogue felt strange to me at times, as if the actors were dramatically mouthing the words with the audio laid on top.
Until the third act, I was preparing in my mind everything that I didn’t like about the film. After it, things changed things for me.
There are still plot lines I felt weren’t necessary to the film, time spent on characters who didn’t matter to the story being told. Certainly, it could have been a more concise film, but by the time the lights came back on I truly did have a satisfying movie going experience.
Most everything that I didn’t like about the film vaporized by the time the third act ended, because it made what felt like inconsequential fragments come together to explain why we won the Battle of Midway. You truly realize how integral each moving part was to the success of the operation.
It makes a serious and achieved effort to highlight the bravery and grit of the men who fought in the pacific theater for both sides, honoring those who served in what truly had to be a nightmare to go through.
The contributions and sacrifices the men and women made inside and outside of the fighting were truly the films focal point, and because of that direction it provided an impact that it otherwise would’ve missed. It’s a bit of an underdog story after all, and because it provides a human view of the war, it allows for a lot of the film to feel personal.
While cinematically, “Midway” doesn’t offer anything that will blow your mind, it does deliver a realistic view of what these battles were like. If I were to pick out a single thing in the movie that stands out to me, it’s the first-person view of the dive bombers as the fly downward toward the decks of the enemy ships, with the gunman in the back seat calling out the altitude for the pilot.
If you’re a fan of war films, I think you’ll truly enjoy this cinematic experience, as it is both a realistic and historically accurate representation of the battle, while also avoiding the pitfalls of feeling like a documentary. While it isn’t my favorite war film, nor the best I’ve ever seen, every aspect of this film is at least passing in terms of quality or impact, particularly its attention to historical detail. Definitely see it on the big screen if you have the chance.