8 November 2019 | azanti0029
A commendable effort but needs a longer directors cut - RELEASE IT PLEASE
Midway is well made thrown back to the historical war movie epics of the 1960s and 1970s, covering a wide spectrum of elements that made up a key moment in history. It's not a perfect film, but its one of the best of its type to be made in a good long while.
What MIDWAY provides us with is an ensemble piece narrative story covering events leading up to the turning point in The War In The Pacific, which was the battle of Midway. To invest us in the characters we're shown a snapshot journey of each of their lives from just before the attack on Pearl Harbour in December 1941 up until June of 1942 where the Japanese and American naval forces would try and surprise each other in what would be the battle of the films title. It's no easy feat to present us with a vast range of uniformed characters in the military, and get the viewer invested in them emotionally but the actors here to do well to make each of their characters stand out so when the film reaches its key climax we understand who is who and what their role is in the conflict. While some of the dialogue is obvious and overstated it serves the job with character dialogue scenes acting as segways from one historical stepping stone to the next as we follow the events that led up to the battle.
Before I delve into the main negative, I will say overall this is a great movie which could be really enhanced by an extended edition or extra running time if if there's more scenes that were cut out covering the battle of Midway itself - and if so PLEASE PUT THEM BACK IN A LONGER CUT - PEOPLE WILL BUY IT ON BLU-RAY! This is where the main problem with this film lies. Over half of its running time is dedicated to the raid on Pearl Harbour, The Doolittle Raid and the battles leading up to and including The Coral Sea, the latter of which is told pretty much in one scene and a single VFX shot (Good though it was) - Not an issue per say, as this film is not called 'The Battle of The Coral Sea' - and while some of these scenes give much context and required emotional threads for both characters and the younger audience members alike, others really didn't need to be seen in this film. It felt as if the events surrounding the Chinese assisting the Doolittle Raid survivors was probably a condition of some VFX funding tax break for the Asian based post-production budget. An allied radio report of the raid itself, perhaps being heard by the pilots of the American carriers was really all that was needed. Whatever the reason, these scenes add little to the key story or characters involved in the subsequent battle and even though they sign post the path that led to Midway, it's not something that couldn't have been covered in a single title card at the beginning of the film. The battle of Midway itself, while well realised, is told a little too quickly. The Japanese attack on USS Yorktown is again covered in a single VFX shot with one line of dialogue from an observing carrier when it could have been such a nail biting moment. The tension that is achieved in the original movie between the Naval Commanders on both sides making the tricky tactical decisions in the battle is a little compacted here. We see the last batch of Japanese pilots taking off but we don't see the outcome of this decision nor get a sense of the damage they do to the Americans. Time spent earlier in the movie building up to events at Midway would have been better spent covering the key events of the actual battle itself, which though nicely staged, feels a little rushed at times. Although a fistful of scenes give us the Japanese perspective they don't show would have been crucial moments of drama such as the belief that their single strike on the Yorktown gave way to believed rumours that two American carriers had been sunk, and the initial spotting of the American fleet by their pilots is not shown at all.
That said the stakes of the climatic battle are well realised here and the CGI is NOT poor, nor distracting as others have claimed, it is extremely well done and is far more effective and real on the big screen. You forget your watching visual FX after a point, which one assumes, is the whole idea. Where the earlier Midway film failed in its visuals of the battle, here you're really put in the seat of the plunging dive bomber or on the deck of the carrier during the numerous actions. It is a visceral experience to see these sequences on the big screen and one that shouldn't be missed.
Credit too must go to Casting Director ANDREA KENYON. It can't have been easy to get such a great ensemble of actors together for one picture (the scheduling must have been a nightmare) and the scale of the film certainly demands and receives a top quality line-up. Ed Skrein is appropriately cocky as pilot Dick Best, while Patrick Wilson adds appropriate gravitas as the intelligence officer whose warnings about an imminent Japanese attack were previously ignored. They're backed up by an engaging Woody Harrelson, Dennis Quaid and the criminally underused Mark Rolston, who are all excellent playing the senior officers, while the younger cast including Keean Johnson, Nick Jonas, Luke Kleintank and Daren Criss, all do well to make the most of their parts. Given their limited screen time, credit must also be given to the Japanese cast - It says a great deal that the scene where Rear Admiral Yamaguchi elects to go down with his ship is one of the most moving in the film and creates much sympathy for the Japanese navy who were against the war with the USA from the very beginning. (Their evil actions depicted elsewhere are not spared however ,with the execution of American POWs gruesomely depicted)
Director Roland Emmerich, whilst having made some past turkeys, is an extremely competent film maker who can handle both scale, multiple characters and action sequences without them turning into an unwatchable 'what the hell is happening now' Micheal Bay snoozefest. We can tell what is happening to whom and there is always a sense of where things are taking place and why in relation to the story. Dialogue is functional to mediocre so while not a flawless film, I have no doubt that several scenes were cut to make sure the film hit a manageable running time. There is a huge thirst for well made historical epics set within this time peroid and a strongly urge both the film makers and the studio to release a longer version of the film on other formats, especially if it covers more aspects of the later battle. This will push what is already a good film to the next level.