Midway

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Wick's Review

Created Nov 16, 2019 10:57PM PST • Edited Dec 07, 2019 07:26AM PST

  1. Quality
  2. Great 4.0

    Wooden acting can’t dampen visual and historic greatness, making Midway a great war movie that is an absolute must for we history buffs and patriots. The Battle of Midway was the Greatest Naval Battle Ever, won by Admiral Chester Nimitz (Woody Harrelson, stolid) & pilots like Dick Best1 (Ed Skrein, breakout).

    This huge war movie proceeds rapidly from pre-Pearl Harbor to The Day That Shall Live in Infamy, and then through the very eventful six months that followed December 7, 1941, including the Doolittle Raid. That still leaves time in a 2.3 hour movie for the US Navy’s epochal triumph at The Battle of Midway.

    State-of-the-art FX and CGI revivify the Pacific War’s massive air and sea battles as never before. Some churlish reviewers damn the visuals as not lifelike or some damn thing, but I found them incredibly vivid, with details that spanned enormous expanses of action. TIP: See Midway on the biggest screen possible!

    Midway is highly surreal, stemming from its insane real-life events, not its FX/CGI or even its script. A word about the by-the-book script: It proceeds linearly, with no trace of post-modern irony in evidence.

    Notwithstanding the 1976 Midway (with Charleton Heston & Henry Fonda) or the Battle of Midway’s appearance in other WWII movies, this 2019 Midway is the definitive Midway movie, an instant classic and an important American artifact. As such, it’s a worthy entrant to my list of Rushmore Movies.
    _________________________

    1 Yes, the hero pilot in the greatest ever American victory at sea was named Dick Best, a normal name then.

  3. Very Good 3.5

    The huge cast almost all play real people who each have a Wikipedia page. Most of the cast are rather wooden in their line readings, perhaps weighed down by the heavily freighted lives they are inhabiting.

    Allies

    • Ed Skrein is the breakout star as Lt. Dick Best, cocky fighter pilot and then wizened hero.
    • Patrick Wilson is properly cerebral as Lt. Commander Edwin T. Layton, the US Pacific Fleet’s Intelligence officer, whose team were essential to our victory at Midway.
    • Luke Evans as Lt. Comm Wade McClusky, legendary hero from USS Enterprise’s Air Group
    • Aaron Eckhart is appropriately chiseled as Lt. Colonel Jimmy Doolittle, whose Raiders hit Tokyo when no one thought it could be done, especially the Japanese.
    • Nick Jonas as an Aviation Machinist’s Mate who becomes a hero on the USS Enterprise.
    • Woody Harrelson is rather stolid as Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, Commander-in-Chief, US Pacific Fleet. How big a name is Nimitz? Nimitz class carriers won the Cold War.
    • Dennis Quaid barks a bunch as Bull Halsey, the leathery and legendary Carrier Commander
    • Jake Weber as Rear Adm. Raymond Spruance, who takes over when Halsey goes on medical leave
    • Brennan Brown as Commander Joseph Rochefort, the eccentric Intelligence officer
    Japanese
    • Etsushi Toyokawa as Admiral Yamamoto, Commander-in-Chief of the Japanese Imperial Navy
    • Tadanobu Asano as Rear Admiral Yamaguchi, Commander, 2nd Carrier Division
    • Jun Kunimura as Vice Admiral Nagumo, Commander, 1st Air Fleet (Kido Butai)
    • Hiromoto Ida as Tojo, the son-of-a-bitch who caused the whole thing. General Hideki Tojo was Prime Minister of Japan.
    • Hiroaki Shintani cameos as Emperor Hirohito, along for Tojo’s ride.
    Civilians
    • Mandy Moore jumps offscreen as Anne Best, Dick Best’s wife
    • Rachael Perrell Fosket is less effective as the wife of an intelligence officer
    • Geoffrey Blake as John Ford
  4. Male Stars Very Good 3.5
  5. Female Stars Great 4.0
  6. Female Costars Good 3.0
  7. Male Costars Good 3.0
  8. Great 4.0

    Roland Emmerich has directed a triumph with Midway.

  9. Direction Great 4.0
  10. Play Very Good 3.5
  11. Music Very Good 3.5
  12. Visuals Perfect 5.0

    ~45 stuntmen, but hundreds of FX crew, so much the better to recreate the visual detail of the War in the Pacific.

  13. Content
  14. Risqué 2.4
  15. Sex Titillating 1.6
  16. Violence Brutal 3.5
  17. Rudeness Salty 2.1
  18. Glib 1.2

    Despite some ‘Hollywood’ aspects, this is still the most realistic movie about naval combat ever made

    — Navy Rear Admiral Sam Cox (retired), who oversaw the fact-checking, per History vs. Hollywood

  19. Circumstantial Glib 1.5
  20. Biological Natural 1.0
  21. Physical Natural 1.0

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