A review of the new blockbuster movie “Midway”

While “Tora! Tora! Tora!” (1970) and “Pearl Harbor” (2001) both portrayed the Japanese attack on the Americans in December 1941, “Midway” is an account of the American defeat of the Japanese in the battle of June 1942.

Like “Tora!”, this new movie includes the Japanese point of view with use of Japanese dialogue and sub-titles. Like “Pearl Harbor”, it uses CGI – in fact, much more of it – to create vivid depictions of both vessels and aircraft with some breathtaking action scenes. There is an overlap of events with both “Pearl Habor” and “Midway” featuring the Japanese attack of December 1941 and America’s Doolittle raid of April 1942, but this newest film devotes around half of its running time to the four-day Battle of Midway on 4-7 June 1942. 

Since the director is Roland Emmerich (who gave us the two “Independence Day” blockbusters), there is nothing subtle about the presentation which is somewhat simplistic and bombastic, but there is a genuine effort to be historically accurate and to show the American victory as a combination of strategic leadership by the likes of Admiral Chester Nimitz (Woody Harrelson), the vital intelligence of codebreakers led by Edwin Layton (Patrick Wilson), and the skill and bravery of pilots such as Dick Best (Ed Skrein).

The Battle of Midway was a ferocious conflict which was a turning point in the Pacific War, even though the conflict lasted for another three years. The Japanese lost all four of their particpating aircraft carriers and the US one of its three carriers, while the Japanese lost around 250 aircraft and the Americans about 150.

Among the many aircraft depicted by the brilliant special effects are the American Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bomber and the Japanese Mitsubishi A6M Zero fighter which are shown in exciting dogfights. In fact, no Dauntless/Zero dogfights occurred at Midway, not least because the Zero was much the faster aircraft.


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