What distinguishes war movies from war documentaries? A lot of things. War movies often add fluff and shine like tales of heroism or romance to historical events, which can be seen in movies like 2001’s Pearl Harbor or 2017’s Dunkirk. They are exciting and intense, none of which can be used to describe Roland Emmerich’s Midway.
War, What Is It Good For?
Where do I even begin? Midway is supposed to tell the thrilling true story of the US Navy sailors and aviators persevered through the tragedy of Pearl Harbor, before the iconic Battle of Midway itself, which was a turning point in the Pacific Theater of World War II leading to the eventual surrender of Japan.
I was prepared for a grittier and more authentic take on Pearl Harbor and the Battle Of Midway, though I didn’t actually expect anything from Emmerich, the master of early 2000s disaster movies. His movies are often explosive CGI-fests with characters who exhibit little to no real development.
Despite the US$100 million production budget, the CGI used in Midway looks like remnants of the early 2000s, with movies like Independence Day and 2012 coming to mind.
They’re so clearly unconvincing that it’s hard to take any of the battle scenes seriously when you could practically see the green-screen effects bursting at the seams.
Midway is more than two hours long (138 minutes), but it ultimately feels closer to double that runtime. I rarely check out the time while watching a movie, but I did with this movie on account of how utterly boring it is. I was surprised to find that barely an hour has passed when it felt more like an eternity.
A war movie requires a certain sense of urgency to push the plot along, but Midway lacks any of that.
The movie just drags along at a frustratingly slow and stilted pace, with no buildup whatsoever.
It feels like you’re stuck in a moment in time, but instead of attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion, you’re left witnessing dodgy CGI and emotionless performances from actors who look like they’re there to cash in an effortless paycheck.
Midway boasts an ensemble cast featuring the likes of Ed Skrein, Patrick Wilson, Luke Evans, Woody Harrelson, and many more. Unfortunately, it fails to capitalize on the massive mountain of talent it has at its disposal with a weak-ass script. None of the actors looks like they want to put in even an ounce of effort into their performances.
Who can blame them? The script is corny at times, and downright embarrassing most of the times. The only actor who looks like they took their role seriously is Ed Skrein as war hero Lieutenant Richard “Dick” Best. He is essentially the main protagonist of the movie and does decently with the material that he has.
However, with the rest of the cast looking like they’d rather be anywhere else but there filming Midway, the movie loses any and all emotional value.
I didn’t care for any of the characters in the movie, even as they died and sacrificed themselves for the war effort.
Something that should have evoked feelings of inspirations and a myriad of other emotions, instead of left me there feeling absolutely nothing.
For a war movie, which often lives and dies by its heroes (unsung or otherwise), Midway has failed to make viewers connect with the characters. I feel like a documentary would’ve done a much better job in making me care about these historical figures and what they did in the war.
Time To Tune Into The History Channel
The worst crime that Midway committed was the fact that I almost fell asleep during the climax, which is when the movie’s depiction of the famed Battle Of Midway actually took place. The somewhat subpar dogfights are marred by the bad CGI, making me lose interest quickly during scenes when I should have been invested in.
The cinematic recreation of such a pivotal moment in World War 2 shouldn’t have made me bored out of my mind. I couldn’t wait for the movie to finish even one hour into it. Say what you want about Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbor but at least I could finish watching that without feeling like robbed me of my precious time.
Please, do yourself a favour and just watch a World War 2 documentary on the History Channel or Netflix. Rest assured that you’ll have a far more entertaining time than watching Midway.
FINAL SCORE: 20/100
We received a preview screening courtesy of TGV Cinemas. Midway premieres in Malaysian cinemas on 7 November 2019.