The man who famously blew up The Whitehouse is back, Roland Emmerich. This time he takes on a moment in history, a famous turning point in the battle for The Pacific during World War II.
MIDWAY centers on the Battle of Midway, a clash between the American fleet and the Imperial Japanese Navy. 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. Spoilers - we know who wins.
I’m old enough to remember the 1976 film, The Battle of Midway which starred Charleton Heston and Henry Fonda. If memory serves, it was shown in “Sensurround”. Now we have CGI and there is no need for Sensurround when Emmerich is in town! Given how far CGI has advanced, yes, this film does put you right in the cockpit with the pilots. You do feel the terror and the bravery. ANd you’ve never seen an aircraft carrier explode until Roland Emmerich does it. IT is amazing and astounding, as it should be. Some of the CGI, though, looked ropey and rushed, even unfinished which surprised me.
The editing and sound editing are the best bits of this film. Emmerich knows how to edit and direct action - we know this and there are no complaints there. Likewise, the sound is well done. It felt truly immersive.
What pulled my out of that immersive experience was the script. When a character has to stand on the deck of an aircraft carrier and with hands on hips deliver the line, “Dick Best is the reason America will win this war”, it’s well...pretty unbelievable. The screenplay is written by Wes Tooke and the script, as far as I can tell, is his first cinematic screenplay having previously written for TV. Many famous writers of film scripts have started in TV, but OMG, the script is terrible. IT is beyond terrible. The characters are pretty one-dimensional. You can tell them apart by their idiosyncrasies. Dick Best (Ed Skrein) chews gum. Wade McClusky (Luke Evans) has a moustache. Admiral Nimitz (Woody Harrelson) has a bad wig. Admiral Halsey (Dennis Quaid) has a rash that’s always itchy. It’s just awful.
There are some great actors in this, including Aaron Echart, Patrick Wilson, Mandy Moore and those already mentioned. We know they can act. But the material they are given does them a huge disservice.
I wanted this to be better. I’m a big fan of war epics but this, well, this makes Michael Bay’s “Pearl Harbour” look like a masterpiece.