Midway (2019)

I just recently watched Roland Emmerich’s remake of Midway. I have always been fascinated by that battle.

Emmerich is a ham, and he aims for “special effects spectaculars,” but I liked this outing. There is a lot of Hollywood BS (e.g., ships and planes too close together), and a lot of trimming of the history, but both really help move the film forward and give you a feeling of the battle on a relatively “small” screen.

The acting was quite good, including Woody Harrelson s Nimitz, Dennis Quaid as Halsey, and Jun Kunimura as Yamamoto are all amazing! The effects are lovely: they toned down atmospheric effects, so most of the effects-heavy scenes look kinda pristine, but as a history buff I loved the detail on the CGI(?) models! The green screening on carrier decks is obvious. And I think the decks are also sub-scaled; the Enterprise deck seems to change size between scenes.

But the story… I mean they came that close to showing Wade McKlusky kick his Dauntless into a stall after dropping his egg so he could watch the carnage he unleashed. The major plot beats were all there, including the tragedy of Torpedo 8 in all its horror. The exposition was usually not clumsy, and they managed to explain things to the audience well. One complaint: they take most of the movie to get to the battle, wasting time on a pointless subplot about Dick Best’s Academy roommate, the China scenes, etc.

I really hate it when movies have obviously wedged-in parts in China in the hopes of being one of the ten Hollywood movies they permit to be shown in the PRC. It is stilted and forced when Jimmy Doolittle treks through China. I did appreciate that the film does address Japanese atrocities in China. That isn’t discussed enough, ask a Chinese person.

I say go watch this beast. It isn’t Saving Private Ryan, but it is good historical entertainment.

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