"Midway” between heartwarming and longing for more

Nov. 17, 2019, 2:39 p.m. | By Shruti Chauhan | 4 years, 7 months ago

The film is only for history fanatics and those looking to celebrate veterans

With Veteran’s Day on Nov. 11, the release of “Midway” comes at a perfect time. Veterans and their families were likely excited to hit theaters opening night, looking to honor the soldiers who fought in the Battle of Midway and those who protect us today. But did anyone leave theaters with the same excitement? 

Set on the Pacific Coast, "Midway" focuses on the World War II interactions between the United States and Japan. The war originally started as a conflict between Japan and China, with the U.S. remaining neutral. Japan provoked the US by bombing Pearl Harbor, leading to a seven month battle for control of the Pacific waterways. 

Japan attempts to attack U.S. military base Midway, but intelligence officer Lieutenant-Commander Edwin Layton (Patrick Wilson) warns his superiors — Admiral Chester Nimitz (Woody Harrelson) and Vice Admiral William "Bull" Halsey (Dennis Quaid) — beforehand. This vital intel gives the US an advantage as they have time to plan for the attack. Lieutenant Richard "Dick" Best (Ed Skrein) distinguishes himself by taking out two of the four Japanese aircraft carriers, contributing to ultimate US victory.

The film is an honorable show of appreciation, but in individual categories it falls just short of success. It is a reflection of history, but at times the history feels forced. Characters speak in historical context, making oddly specific statements like, “We get 30 percent of our oil from your country.” The bombardment of statistics takes away from the general narrative; it makes the dialogue seem as though it was pulled directly from a textbook. Even though it is essential in certain scenarios, it’s overbearing on the whole. 

Most of the characters are unimportant in the overall plot and the large cast’s interactions make the movie hard to follow. Teens may be quick to recognize Bruno Gaido (Nick Jonas), but his role underscores another failure of the movie: accents. Every character sounds like an English man with a heavy New York accent, seeming more exaggerated than historic.

The film's design is also lackluster. It is reminiscent of a combination of a modern-day online gaming world and and the old images in a textbook. It would be unreasonable to expect the directors to stage a real battle in the middle of the ocean, but the computer-generated imagery (CGI) looks a little too artificial.

 After watching, there are no moments that stand out as exemplary. The characters are one-dimensional, the musical score is quickly forgotten, and the cinematography is subpar. The film had so much potential, but it unfortunately fell short.

 The only thing “Midway” does well is humanizing the war and making it hit closer to home. For those of us who weren’t alive to experience any global tragedies, the film highlights that death is more than just a number.

 Many parts of the film reflect overarching themes of revenge, empathy and love. The simple act of Best chewing a piece of gum before flying his plane to destroy to Japanese fleet, for example, brings the shocking realization that soldiers are people at the core.

 Ultimately, Midway does achieve one incredibly important goal. It is dedicated to the heroes of the battle, a monumental event in U.S. history. The U.S. could not have won the Battle of Midway without the effort of all the historical figures celebrated in the film.  

To people who are going into the theater to see a historical moment and celebrate soldiers this Veteran’s Day, this might be exactly what you had in mind. But for everyone else, learn about the history at home. 

 “Midway” is rated PG-13 for gruesome battle footage, some explicit language and smoking. It is playing at Regal Majestic & IMAX, AMC Wheaton Mall 9 and Regal Rockville Center.


Last updated: Nov. 17, 2019, 5:20 p.m.

Tags: blazer movies Veteran's Day movie review

Shruti Chauhan. Hi, I'm Shruti and I'm a senior at Blair! Apart from writing for SCO, I enjoy playing tennis, biking, and watching Netflix. More »

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