‘Midway’ review: History with a dollop of boredom

‘Midway’: unable to sustain a steady pace

‘Midway’: unable to sustain a steady pace   | Photo Credit: Special Arrangement

Roland Emmerich’s new offering disappoints with a lacklustre narrative, erratic pace and too many unfounded characters

With blockbusters like Independence Day (1999), 10,000 BC (2008) and White House Down (2013) to his name, director Roland Emmerich seems like the ideal person to helm a project like Midway. The war film, depicting the Battle of Midway between Japan and the US, follows the attack on Pearl Harbour in December 1941. In the past, Emmerich has deftly proven his ability to craft tension and effectively translate disaster on screen.

In practise though, his skills fall short by quite a long stretch. When it comes to battle sequences, underwater or air borne, the film adequately thrills. As bullets, torpedoes and other ammo hurl across the screen striking humans willy-nilly, attention and interest levels surely pique. But it’s the attempt to forcefully fit multiple characters’ contributions to the historic battle that entirely overpowers the film. Uni-dimensional story arcs — from a shingles infliction to the manufactured anguish of losing a friend to battle — never fully realise, resulting in a stark detachment from anything remotely emotional unfurling onscreen. The huge ensemble cast is visibly competent but with a lack of focus, none quite make an impact. It’s a waste really then to have names like Dennis Quaid, Aaron Eckhart and Woody Harrelson. A particular sore thumb is English rapper and actor Ed Skrein who plays Lieutenant Richard ‘Dick’ Best with the artificial affectation of a Jersey drawl and a grating cocksure attitude.

  • Director: Roland Emmerich
  • Cast: Ed Skrein, Patrick Wilson, Luke Evans, Aaron Eckhart, Nick Jonas, Mandy Moore, Dennis Quaid, Woody Harrelson, Darren Criss, Keean Johnson, Brennan Brown
  • Story line: After the surprise attack on Pearl Harbour during World War II, the US Navy must retaliate by destroying Japanese aircraft carriers in the Battle of Midway

Though Emmerich kicks off Midway with a bang —the attack on Pearl Harbour — the director is unable to sustain a steady pace. Like volatile kinks on an unreliable graph, the film oscillates furiously. Often, it seems as if scenes have been compromised on to rush to the next sequence. In a bid to remain painstakingly faithful to history, the film includes plenty of unnecessary details: case in point, director John Ford who was sent to Midway to document the battle for the US. While the film’s CGI is satisfactory enough, in spite of a shaky start, the visual spectacle of mounting a war film pales in comparison to other shortcomings. Midway unfolds disappointingly, offering a dry history lesson with desperately futile attempts to craft a well-rounded addition to the war genre of cinema.

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Printable version | Jul 4, 2020 8:54:44 AM |

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