Film Review by: #BrianPenn
For a subject so heavily plundered by film makers, it's not immediately obvious why Roland Emmerich felt the need to remake Midway. The decisive naval battle that followed Pearl Harbour has been done before; most notably the star laden epic from 1976 featuring Henry Fonda and Charlton Heston. Pearl Harbour has similarly been sold on film with Tora! Tora! Tora! taking the honours. Michael Bay's 2001 effort starring Ben Affleck and Kate Beckinsdale is however best forgotten.
This latest incarnation begins in 1937 as tensions grow between America and Japan in the Pacific. It quickly spins forward to the day of the attack on Pearl Harbour in 1941. A factual depiction of war should generate a natural element of drama. But the film is let down by a dreadful script and some decidedly wooden acting. Any semblance of credibility is abandoned as Rambo meets Top Gun and the bad guys get a beating.
The fightback begins as Chester Nimitz (Woody Harrelson) is appointed Commander-In-Chief of the Pacific Fleet. Ace pilot Dick Best (Ed Skrein) swears to avenge the death of his best friend as the tension ramps up. Intelligence chief Edwin Layton (Patrick Wilson) is under pressure to track enemy movements. Meanwhile Admiral William Halsey (Dennis Quaid), Commander of flagship Enterprise is forced to step down through ill-health.
Writer Wes Tooke obviously had a bumper sized Book of Hollywood Clichés close to hand; they came thick and fast, reducing many characters to comic strip status. Some of the lines are just excruciating (‘its men like Best that will win this war!'). Dick Best is a fully fledged caricature as he climbs into the cockpit, unwraps a stick of gum and pins a photo of his wife on the control panel. The chest beating all American boy is funny for all the wrong reasons. Worse still, a genuine war hero is made to look something of a dullard. Donald Trump will positively adore this narrative, and can well imagine the whooping and high fiving stateside.
The special effects are superbly executed and combat sequences are similarly breath-taking. But for the director of Independence Day and The Day After Tomorrow such technical brilliance is no great stretch. To strive for historical accuracy and then throw it away on a blunt script makes no sense. It was meant as a tribute to the men who fought at the Midway, but was buried under far too much bluster.