"Midway" is one of THOSE war movies.
What do I mean by that? "Midway" is a movie that looks like about a thousand other World War II movies, and does very little to assert itself above the rest. Its a movie full of famous to semi-memorable actors, yet the script is so paper-thin that next to zero character development occurs. Its got characters recycling the same tired story-lines that they give the word cliche a bad name. Its a movie that is more obsessed with the look and the stylized violence of the movie instead of the heroes that the movie is supposed to be about. The oddest part about it all is, the special effects look like they came from a video game. How in the sweet Hell does Michael Bay's "Pearl Harbor" from 2001 look way better and more believable than "Midway" from 2019?
Funny I mention "Pearl Harbor," since this movie spends much of its first hour remaking that movie. Since "Pearl Harbor" wasn't even close to being a movie to be remade, I am puzzled director Roland Emmerich decided to go that direction, yet here we are. The thing Michael Bay got right in an otherwise crappy movie was the ugliness of war and the shock of that day, so many years ago. In "Midway," the Pearl Harbor attack looks so much like a video game that I can't for the life of me imagine what Emmerich was thinking. I am also baffled, Roland Emmerich gave us "The Patriot," while historically inaccurate to the max, "The Patriot" is actually a very entertaining movie. "Midway" is overlong, the dialogue is corny and stale, instead of intense, witty and memorable like "The Patriot." We don't have a single character to hang onto in "Midway," whereas in "The Patriot" we actually had several to hold onto. I also have to say I believed in the decapitation by cannonball much more than any dogfight in "Midway."
"Midway" is full of good actors. People like Woody Harrelson, Aaron Eckhart, Luke Evans, Patrick Wilson, Dennis Quad, Mandy Moore, Darren Criss, Jake Weber, Alexander Ludwig, Ed Skrein and Nick Jonas. That's one helluva cast to just fucking waste, yet Emmerich finds a way to do so. Nobody is made believable in any way. Everyone is given personality ticks rather than actual traits. They look like cardboard cutouts from other, better movies instead of actually giving life to the people they are supposed to be playing.
Despite the bad special effects, Emmerich sure does try hard to stylize the violence onscreen. Therein lies the problem for me. Anytime a war movie glorifies the violence, it fails in my eyes. The best war movies show us just how ugly and terrifying war actually is, because of this, we come to appreciate more the men and women who put on those uniforms and defend our freedom. Our troops aren't action heroes, they are several steps above that. War isn't an Xbox game, its something real and raw, and the best war movies showcase that. The "Saving Private Ryans" and the "Thin Red Lines" and the "Apocalypse Nows" and the "Black Hawk Downs" and the "Gettysburgs" and the "Glory's" and the "Platoons" and the "We Were Soldiers" of the world are best of the genre because they display what war actually is, and they do so without winking at the audience. They show us what it means to be in any line of the military and even if some of those movies tell fictional stories, they still respect the people they are supposed to be about. "Midway" is just a glorified fever dream that goes through the motions.
But hey, Woody Harrelson's fake hair is pretty hilarious.
FINAL GRADE: C-