“MIDWAY”  –  8.5


     In a word: Deja Vu

Here’s the short version. “Midway” is a well-made war movie, but if you’re a middle-aged (or older) you will think you’re seeing the 1970 version, “Tora Tora Tora” all over again. It’s a remake, a la, scene after scene of American pilots flying, bombing and diving over Japanese war ships.

Just as in “Tora,” Yamamoto is often featured as the Japanese leader aboard his battleship leading the enemy into an invasion of Pearl Harbor in December of 1941, and later, reciting the same phrase “I fear we have awakened a sleeping giant.”

Certainly, with technology advanced over nearly 50 years, the action shots are more spectacular and frightening. And, while the Pearl Harbor raid is well-recreated at the beginning of the film, the later objective is to defeat the Japanese air and naval forces at a crucial setting at the Midway atoll, in the Pacific. The movie certainly highlights the bravery and valor of the American military heroes as they finally claim victory over the enemy but not before thousands lose their lives. Without a doubt, some filming shots are visually spectacular, as the American commanders and soldiers fight with valor.

Acting is good, though some of the lines in the early part of the movie, I thought, were too corny and amateurish for such an epic film. Main roles, such as Admiral Chester Nimitz and General Jimmy Doolittle, were deftly played by Woody Harrelson and Aaron Eckhart. But the Oscar nominations are more likely to be assigned for Cinematography, Editing and Special Effects. In a technical sense, some scenes were simply head-shakers.

I couldn’t help but think of other movies made about the Midway Atoll conflict, including a 1976 release, same title, same story, starring Henry Fonda and Charlton Heston.

Yet, seeing another “Tora” movie brings the rating down a couple points. Even the back-and-forth cross-sections of dialogue is the same, with the focus on shifting points of view from Japanese military leaders, with sub-titles, and then American men in the fighting mode. That’s a carbon copy from “Tora.”

If a revived Gone With The Wind were to be remade, I would certainly go see it. However, I hesitate to think any man in the modern era would tell his woman, “Frankly my dear, I don’t give a damn.”

In the modern era, advances in special effects, filming and sound, such as sensurround, can blow your eardrums off. Regardless, this is a tremendous motion picture. Very little profanity issues, no sex, but … violence?

Darn right.

I give this movie a rating 8 ½ out of 10.


Midway (2019) – IMDb

8 Responses to A FRANK MOVIE REVIEW: “MIDWAY” – 8.5 (M. Frank)

  1. Donald November 24, 2019 at 8:37 am #

    I loved the movie, but one thing bothered me, which should have been caught by the movie’s Navy technical advisors. Every uniform in the movie, including dress whites, is wrinkled. In the real Navy dress whites are pristine and no Naval technical advisor worth his salt would have let this slide.

  2. Pat Pesce November 24, 2019 at 10:06 am #

    “Midway” is a historical film, not a documentary but certainly very factual, including the dialogue as Admiral Yamamoto exclamates, “I fear we have awakened a sleeping giant”.
    So yes – it is a remake but we cannot remake history nor can we remake dialogue. l am of the older generation and recall seeing the older and original “war movies” and remember some of the post war trauma of the era, but this one, as others of the same genre, are important and inspiring reminders of the sacrifices Americans made and of the greatness of this country. I did a little research “The median age of the total population is 38.1 years; the male median age is 36.8 years; the female median age is 39.4 years. The population is distributed by age as follows: 0–14 years: 18.62% (male 31,255,995/female 29,919,938) 15–24 years: 13.12% (male 22,213,952/female 21,137,826”.)
    From Demography of the United States -Wikipedia.
    With this in mind I think films such as this one are not only important reminders to all of us, but especially to the younger generation where I fear such patriotic education is limited these days. With exceptions I agree with your rating, add in educational and inspirational and it is a 10 out of 10. GOD BLESS THE USA.

  3. Charlie November 24, 2019 at 10:29 am #

    Saw it. Loved it. Maybe because I never watched Tora Tora Tora.

  4. Joseph Pesce November 24, 2019 at 12:25 pm #

    I loved the movie and Marshall, I agree with your assessments of the acting and the repetitive nature of the subject. Of course the advancements in computer graphics are amazing to see in a movie.

    There were a couple of noteworthy aspects that I’m surprised you did not mention. Halsey was afflicted apparently with a “rash”. No I’m not sure if the medical field was aware of the shingles back in the forties, but he was not part of the battle of Midway because of it. I was not aware of the critical factor in history and I question whether they knew that was the cause of his irritating skin affliction. what if Halsey had been an integral part of that battle ?

    In addition to that small but potentially history changing detail regarding Halsey; the film brought to life a very important fact regarding the code breakers. These were musicians recruited by the military who were able to break the Japanese communications. It has been explained in the movie that they were able to note the patterns and math necessary to understand the language of the code. I find that to be amazing and it is refreshing to give credit to their efforts.

    Overall, I believe the movie was fast moving and fun to watch, however I believe it covered too much to be a truly groundbreaking movie. Movies such as Private Ryan are more focused and detailed giving the viewer a point of view personal experience that impacts the viewer more profoundly. Platoon was also a very focused dramatization of the war in Vietnam.

    It was refreshing to watch a patriotic movie for a change. Lately Hollywood has put out many movies critical of the United States, both overt and subliminal, they have become ubiquitous and truly distort history.

  5. Larry Bennett November 25, 2019 at 12:26 pm #

    Midway was the first movies I have seen at the theaters for years. I remember the earlier Midway movie with Charleston Heston and believe this one was a good remake and would rate it the same as Mr. Frank. My “gold standard” of reviewing a movie is a simple question: Would you watch it again”?

    • Chuck Wilder November 27, 2019 at 4:16 pm #

      Like your “Gold Standard”

  6. Helen R. Frigo November 25, 2019 at 2:26 pm #

    Re Donald’s remark about Navy white uniforms. How many Black navymen took care of those uniforms and served meals? “A few Good Men” with Robert DeNiro is kind of about that. Paul Rudd actually does a great job as “The Catcher was a spy”, about a Jewish Boston Red Sox catcher who I had never heard of. Made in 2018, interestingly.
    Thanks Marshall, for your reviews.

  7. Chuck Wilder November 27, 2019 at 4:12 pm #

    Another excellent review , This movie is excellent with all the advancements in special effects; but it still did not reach the excellence in Midway with Henry Fonda and Charlton Heston. That movie explained the code breaking and how that really accounted for the tide turning in the war, also better on Adm Halsey and how he was replaced by a Torpedo man, not an air carrier man. One other note is Ensign Gay, a remarkable story of how he
    witness so much of the battle after his plane was shot down. By the way do you really think the USS Hornet went by the carriers on their way to Tokyo? The audience in the theater I was in, must have given it a 10, by the round of applause they exhibited at the end of the movie.