Watched Date: 4/21/2020
It’s another Ronald Emmerich movie to slug through to, hopefully, get any amount of excitement from it, and it appears in the form of his latest war flick Midway. Honestly, but besides Independence Day and The Patriot are the only movies from his filmography I talk positively about, he isn’t one of my favorite directors in Hollywood, especially for giving us the massive dumpster fire entitled Independence Day: Resurgence. I love an excellent war film when it’s done right, but is this worthy enough to be shown during history class? Probably not.
What’s the Story: On Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese forces launch a devastating attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. naval base in Hawaii. Six months later, the Battle of Midway commences on June 4, 1942, as the Japanese navy once again plans a strike against American ships in the Pacific. For the next three days, the U.S. Navy and a squad of brave fighter pilots engage the enemy in one of the most important and decisive battles of World War II.
Midway is another movie centered on the events of the Pearl Harbor attacks, which made me a skeptic when I watched the trailers since the last time didn’t pan out well after Michael Bay botched it all up with his 2001 offensive mess of a motion picture (Pearl Harbor). At least Emmerich isn’t doing another disaster movie, but taking on a war flick isn’t going to be in the same circle as Dunkirk, and we should all be safe by that. I originally planned on seeing this at the movies when it came out, but there were so many out around that month I didn’t have time, which made me wonder why it managed to take the number #1 spot at the box office.
Since I knew nothing about the Battle of Midway before watching this, I’d say it was an interesting way of taking on this story and how everything went down. It was a way of showing appreciation to the soldiers who fought in one of the biggest battles in American history. This is no disrespect to the heroes who were involved with what happened decades ago, but this should’ve been an excellent war drama that was vigorously entertaining to watch.
I was willing to give Emmerich a chance with this to see if he could provide some kind of grounded story to what he would give to tell a remarkable piece of history like this. What did he give us? One of the most generic movies in the genre has seen yet. Seriously, there’s nothing about his direction that made the movie large in scale. If you saw everything from this director, you’ve seen everything that this offer. There wasn’t real build-up to the Pearl Harbor attack during the first act, which was already was easy to realize this would not be easing toward anything special. It’s a minuscule portion, but it should’ve been impactful, nonetheless. I had no emotions when it was starting with that. Even when there isn’t any action happening, everything between them is boring, and it’s hard enough when everybody has to spout out weak dialogue thanks to the script by Wes Tooke (Colony) that didn’t have a sense of a plot anywhere. While some history buffs can spot moments that are the attention to detail, just know it’s not enough to consider it Oscar material.
This has a freakin’ stacked cast I couldn’t believe were in this and didn’t even know until they appeared on-screen. Skrein is a fine actor and all, but seeing him as the lead character with a spotty New Jersey accent, Richard “Dick” Best, we’re supposed to be attached to didn’t work for me when he’s just the typical hotshot pilot we’ve seen before in better movies. Maverick from Top Gun, he is not. It’s not just him, there’s Patrick Wilson as Navel intelligence officer Edwin Layton, Aaron Eckhart as Colonel Jimmy Doolittle, Mandy Moore as Dick’s worried wife Anne, Woody Harrelson as Admiral Chester Nimitz, Dennis Quaid as Commander William “Bull” Halsey, Nick Jonas as Bruno Gaido, Luke Evans as Wade McClusky, and Darren Criss as Eugene Lindsey. But out of the ensemble, I enjoyed Patrick Wilson’s performance the most since he’s the one who the most fleshed-out of everybody.
Aside from him, I didn’t care about any of the other characters since they were very one-dimensional, regardless of them being played by actors I’m fond of. You still don’t learn a lot about these true people who put their respective lives for this, and that doesn’t include title cards at the end. They deserved a better movie to represent them other than what we’ve got here. I’m still complex as to why Nick Jonas was in here since he felt miscast for me.
As for the action sequences taken place here, it delivers on the explosions and dogfights, if you don’t care about the plot. The big problem was it was never intense whenever it’s happening because it just looked fake, no thanks to the horrible CGI that made it look like they filmed it on a green screen for a $100 million budget. Every movie of his has so many action scenes that have a huge spectacle behind them; this isn’t one of them. A few of the aerial dogfight scenes were good enough to give the slightest attention to, but they weren’t enough when I was waiting for the final battle to happen so it could all be over.
With Midway, it’s another Ronald Emmerich movie that cannot be entertaining, even for a war flick about the subject it’s based on. Some might find this to be in good taste, but I’m on the negative side of what this tried to be. Talk about a boring film where the action isn’t immersive and has huge talents squandered by a less than impressive script. At least it’s better than Pearl Harbor if that’s any consultation. Instead of sitting through 138 minutes of this, do the right thing and watch better movies in the genre that won’t bore you.