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Rated 3.2 stars
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ReelTalk Movie Reviews
An Exciting Look at WWII
by James Colt Harrison

Director Roland Emmerich’s smashingly exciting Midway opens just in-time for the 77th anniversary of the decisive battle of World War II. Never before had Americans seen such valor and bravery during a war battle that just may have saved America from defeat in the Pacific. This film helps us remember what turned out to be a great win for the American forces against the Japanese and the brave individuals who gave their lives to keep us all safe.

The battle of Midway took place in June of 1942. That was only a mere six months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in Hawaii on December 7, 1941 --- “a day that will live in infamy,” according to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Emmerich took his cameras to Pearl Harbor and just alongside the actual location, he recreated one of the most stirring and gulp-inducing raids by the Japanese on the totally surprised---and unprepared---American Naval ships. In battle scenes so realistic that they bring tears to your eyes as our “boys” were slaughtered in a blaze of machine gun rallies and direct bomb hits to the decks of the ships that were “sitting ducks” for the Japanese planes. We lost so many sailors who went down on the famed Arizona and other ships that were sunk that day. Shown in heart-breaking detail, the Hollywood wizards created the ships, planes, fires and explosions seen on screen.

As in all war pictures, some outstanding characters emerge who represent the best of American GIs. In a twist of logic, Emmerich cast British actor Ed Skrein as Lt. Richard “Dick” Best, a cocky and arrogant fighter pilot, in the leading role. No matter, Skrein pulls off an American accent perfectly, as most British actors are wont to do. Skrein, of course, is best known to television fans from the wildly successful series “Game of Thrones” as the character Daario Naharis. Skrein is a newcomer to major U.S. films and creates a loveable pilot in the mold of Golden Age rogue Errol Flynn. He’s a bit of a devil, but the men love him, especially his radioman James Murray  (Keean Johnson) a baby-faced companion who rides in the rear of the plane, much to his horror and fright!

There’s not too much time for character development because of all the action that dominates the screen. The very beautiful Mandy Moore has the only significant female role, that of Mrs. Dick Best. Other females on screen serve as Navy wives, and haven’t much to do. But we know that it was the women who kept the men going, knowing they were rooting for them back home. They also deserved medals.

Officers and men who played a significant role in the success of the Midway battle are played by some of Hollywood’s best actors. Luke Evans, sporting a dashing mustache, plays Lt. Cdr Wade McClusky. Woody Harrelson, not playing his usual hippie part, is the distinguished Admiral Nimitz. Sporting a wonderful gray-haired wig, Harrelson is a spitting image of the real Nimitz. Aaron Eckhart takes on the role of Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle, famed for his Doolittle Raiders. Aged in wine is Dennis Quaid, the rough and tumble Admiral Bull Halsey, a major figure during the war years. Quaid is tough and strong and captures what it is to be a military leader. Patrick Wilson plays code-breaker Ed Layton, a genius who could crack the Japanese secrets. Popping up to thrill the young fans are handsome Darren Criss and muscle-bulging Nick Jonas as Navy men.

A significant contribution to the film are the Asian actors who take on the roles of the infamous Japanese officers and men who commanded the  aircraft carriers that gave the American forces so much trouble.  Famed Japanese actor Etsushi Toyokawa plays Admiral Yamamoto, while Jun Kunimura is Admiral Nagumo. Stage and screen actor Tadanobu Asano  is on screen as Rear Admiral Tamaguchi. Young Peter Shinkoda is Genda.

The movie is one of the most thrilling action presentations ever seen. It must be experienced on the big screen to really feel the stomach-flipping of flying upside down or dive-bombing straight down in death-defying free-falls. The visual and special effects are incredibly detailed and awe-inspiring. Scene after scene of thrilling exploits of the pilots dog-fighting take your breath away. Other effects of bombs blowing up ships and huge aircraft carriers turning over make one’s eyes pop and not return to their sockets. The film has amazing surprise after surprise, shock after shock, until the viewer is exhausted and nearly knocked unconscious from  stimulation overload. Cinematographer Robby Baumgartner contributes his artist’s eye to enhancing everything that whizzes past your eyes.

The film is a wonderful tribute to our armed forces who participated in the battle of Midway. Don’t miss this exciting and patriotic film.

(Released by Lionsgate and rated “PG-13” for sequences of war violence and related images, language and smoking.)

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