Basically: The title doesn’t lie. This is a pretty middle-ground movie.
Summary: Stemming from the Pearl Harbor attack, the United States must find a way to defeat their Japanese enemies. Did you know the Japanese have better planes? Did you? This movie will remind you.
I have a love/hate relationship with Roland Emmerich, similar to my love/hate relationship with Michael Bay. They’ve worked on some things together so it makes sense- they’re both kind of hacks and try to make the story action more serious than it needs to be. Most of the time, Bay has a better eye for action and Emmerich has a better eye for mostly everything else. Put them together, we get Independence Day and we all loved that one, right? (Please note when I say “better,” I mean “better than the other.” Neither of them are a Ridley Scott.)
Emmerich usually gets the benefit of the doubt because he did do The Patriot, which did have some very high points to it. Midway is… well, it has less (and lower) high points. To be honest, it’s probably the worst movie I’ve seen this year, right next to Godzilla and Scary Stories. I think there are several things that could have been tweaked to make this better, maybe bumped up to a C+.
I get what Emmerich was trying to do with it- really tap into the style of speech and some visuals of the time period. The dialogue is simple and everyone has an extremely exaggerated accent, mostly Brooklyn or Boston with an occasional southern drawl sprinkled in, but his attempt to pay homage to older styles of speech comes off as bad acting. There are some very pretty, postcard looking sunsets that are trampled by some truly terrible CGI. (I wodner Historical accuracy is watered down in an attempt to show both sides of the battle, which then seems wholly inaccurate, and therefore more stereotypical.
On that last point, one of the movie’s low points is how it jumps around to show what each person’s role was. There are about seven different characters we follow- the highest ranking or most impactful historical figures- and three of them make the movie more disjointed than it needs to be. They probably could have left out Aaron Eckhart, Mandy Moore, and Dennis Quaid and given that money to the CG department. And then there are RED TITLE CARDS IN ALL CAPS that pop up every five minutes to let you know where you are- and it still doesn’t help. Just let Patrick Wilson pick up his phone and take an exposition dump, that’s fine.
I hate that my empathy for Emmerich kicked in and this wasn’t a “so bad, it’s good” kind of thing. I’m just indifferent to it. One day, I’ll get drunk and watch Pearl Harbor and Midway back-to-back.
PS: It’s unintentionally Woody Harrelson Week- stick around for a Zombieland: Double Tap review!