“Midway” Review

by Ethan Paxton | Staff Writer

It took me an exceptionally long while to assess how I felt about “Midway.” After leaving the theater, I could say that I had been entertained by this by-the-numbers WWII film but, was at the same time still wishing there had been more. 

Director Roland Emmerich unfortunately fails to bring new life to WWII films in the same way Christopher Nolan’s “Dunkirk,” and Steven Spielberg’s “Saving Private Ryan” have, instead opting to use it as an opportunity to fulfill the cliché criteria for an entertaining war flick. Despite the lack of nuance, I was thoroughly impressed by spectacular aerial battles Emmerich includes in the film, still allowing for an entertaining experience in the theater. 

Another aspect of the film that suffers is the pacing. Beginning at Pearl Harbor, the film feels rushed, and doesn’t allow for sufficient time for us to get acquainted with the characters or be invested in their sacrifice. The lack of believable human beings and fleshed out characters was only accentuated by the inclusion of the “cowboy-pilot” and “uncompromising naval officer” tropes that further bogged down this film with 1940s recruitment film themes. 

Despite a plethora of notable faces among the cast, the few standouts of the film were Tadanobu Asano, Dennis Quaid, and Patrick Wilson, who gave without a doubt the best performance as Edwin Layton, a codebreaker who provided the audience with a chance to look at another side of war heroics. Wilson’s performance was great, and his was the most interesting character of the film, for I left wishing I could have seen more of him and his character’s role in the Midway battle. I was also surprised by the appearance of Nick Jonas who added more than just looks to the film, giving a solid, if yet brief performance as Bruno Gaido.

The cinematography of “Midway” was clearly the focus of the crew, for the visuals are stunning. Ships at sea, planes in the sky, and long scanning shots over island settings are all gorgeous. These views capture the imagery of this iconic Pacific battle is a beautiful way, and though it would have been nice to have some substance along with these pictures, I found I could still appreciate indulging in the images.

Overall, the film’s drama is simply basic, a B-list movie with average to sub-par acting. The destructive battles and impressive visuals are the moments when the film shines most, but because of that it makes enduring the character interactions in between aerial battles that much more arduous. 5.5/10 pinecones.