War Movie Midway, 2019

MOVIE REVIEW: “Midway” (2019) directed by Ronald Emmerich

Last night, film critic and aviation enthusiast Nathan Cragun, finally got to see the war movie Midway which was released a day earlier on November 8, 2019! I was super hyped about it and many people contacted me asking for a completely honest review, so here goes.

The Good:

  • Uniform and equipment accuracy was absolutely on point throughout the movie with exception of the Doolittle Raiders scenes. Everything down to the incredibly early war MkII USN goggles were featured.
  • The physical aircraft mockups were very well done and, from what I’ve been told, the TBD mockup was even donated to the USS Midway museum.
  • The sound design was fantastic and very immersive. Not as amazing as Dunkirk but deserves props nonetheless.
  • There were a lot of little historical nuances that they nailed including the historical timeline leading up to the battle. Other, even smaller, things appeared such as Halsey having shingles, Gaido’s heroic action at the Marshall Islands, the Japanese wargames, etc.
  • Some very memorable scenes. Everything involving Nimitz, Layton, and the codebreakers was fantastic. The Japanese scenes were all very well done as well.

And The Ugly:

  • The writing, oh the writing: It really feels like this was written by a film school student. The dialog was stiff and wooden along with the cookie cutter characters. While they represented real people, the film mostly made up their personalities with exception of a couple. The entire film was very disjointed and jumped around constantly and featured many scenes that served almost no purpose whatsoever. There were also scenes and characters that would appear randomly but we would never go back to them thus leaving the audience hanging with no follow through. While historically “neat” to see, they could have cut the Arizona scenes at Pearl Harbor, all of the Doolittle scenes and all of the Nautilus scenes. Honestly the whole way they lead up to Midway was a mess. They tried to cover too many events and, in doing so, was a master at none of them. In my opinion, they should made the first half an espionage thriller leading up to the battle rather than trying to spoon feed and explain/show the entire first year of the war in the Pacific.
  • Animations: While the CGI itself was very good, the animations were not. Many of the aircraft maneuvers made zero actual sense. For example, the Pearl Harbor scenes featured Kate torpedo bombers dropping torpedoes from high altitude and parallel, not perpendicular, to the ships they were targeting. I’ll be entirely honest in saying that the aerial combat was better in Pearl Harbor than this. Pearl Harbor gets a lot of hate but one thing it did well was blending real aircraft with CGI and making a rather believable air combat scene. The attack by B-26s annoyed me as well as those should have been B-17s, not B-26s. There were only four B-26s in the attack and they were all low level torpedo bombers.
  • Acting: Well only about half of it. Nimitz, Layton, Halsey, the Japanese, and others were well acted. However, the majority of the USS Enterprise cast seemed like a sequel to the Newsies with all the fake New York and Jersey accents. A lot of that goes back to the bad writing.