Roland Emmerich has a similar reputation to Michael Bay. Both directors focus heavily on action, with a few big movies on their resume and a bunch of films that most people don’t consider all that great. Emmerich exploded onto the scene with the release of Independence Day. While he had earlier films, such as Stargate, it was this Will Smith starring vehicle that really caught the attention of moviegoers. He’s had a rough time since then, but Midway is very close to a return to form for the disaster movie director.
The story of Midway roughly follows the events of the famous battle of the same name from 1942. If you’ve seen any of the trailers, you probably know that Pearl Harbor is where the film begins. There are more than a few similarities to Michael Bay’s 2001 Pearl Harbor film. It’s not difficult to consider the first 30 minutes of Midway to be a condensed version of Bay’s prior film. Emmerich even delves into the Doolittle Raid, featured at the end of Michael Bay’s film, and it’s far more accurate than was Bay presented to audiences.
Speaking of accuracy, Emmerich does a decent job of sticking to the facts. There are plenty of liberties taken, but overall Midway doesn’t stray too far. In fact, one of the downfalls of Midway is the fact that they didn’t include some of the pivotal circumstances that created a fair amount of tension during the actual battle. There were some key decisions made during the actual events that caused a great deal of heroics, but some of these events were either toned down or skipped over completely.
Emmerich does a great job realizing the battles featured within Midway. While some of the fast cuts can cause confusion as to who is actually being shot down, there’s such a massive scope here that the faults are easy to ignore. The Japanese take on the battle and the events leading up to it are far more accurate than many similar films. This provides great insight into how the Japanese military works and how the officers and even the Emperor felt during the early parts of the war.
Battles aside, Midway focuses on a few select heroes that helped to save the day. Ed Skrein takes on the role of Dick Best, a hot shot pilot who commands one of the primary aerial divisions during the battle of Midway. Patrick Wilson plays Naval intelligence officer, Edwin Layton, with Woody Harrelson playing his commanding officer, Commander in Chief of the US Pacific Fleet, Chester W. Nimitz. Finally, Dennis Quaid makes an appearance as Fleet Admiral William ‘Bull’ Halsey. All of the acting in the film is above average to stellar.
When it comes down to it, Midway isn’t a perfect film, but it’s one of Emmerich’s best in recent years. While there are fans of The Day After Tomorrow and even 2012, Midway stands above everything Emmerich has directed since the original Independence Day. With a new Stargate film in the works, hopefully Emmerich can continue the streak of quality films.
Score: 3.5 out of 5
Plot: The story of the Battle of Midway, told by the leaders and the sailors who fought it.
Genre: Historical Action, Drama
Director: Roland Emmerich
Writer: Wes Tooke
Stars: Ed Skrein, Patrick Wilson, Woody Harrelson
Length: 2 Hours, 18 Minutes