The Reel Review


The United States victory over Japan in 1942’s Battle of Midway is widely considered to be one of the most stunning and decisive blows in the history of naval warfare. In this rousing war epic, renowned action director Roland Emmerich (Independence Day, 2012) tackles the historic events leading up through this major turning point in World War II.

The Japanese attacking Pear Harbor in Midway.

Similar to the same named, 1976 star-studded blockbuster starring Charlton Heston, Henry Fonda and Robert Mitchum, this Midway also has an enormous ensemble cast (among them, Patrick Wilson, Ed Skrein, Luke Evans, Mandy Moore, Woody Harrelson and a moustached Nick Jonas), along with pulse-pounding aerial battles and the predictable trite dialogue. But where Emmerich’s Midway excels is eye-popping visuals of the battles, insight into heroes on both sides of the battle, and an impressively accurate and realistic depiction of events, including the game changing role of the codebreakers in giving the United States the advantage over the vastly more fortified Japanese military.

Ed Skrein and Luke Kleintank in Midway.

Despite a few moments of monotonous battle scenes and what at times feels like an encyclopedia of characters, strong performances (by Skrein and Evans, in particular) elevates a solid but somewhat corny script with a surprising amount of heart. The true star of this old fashioned war film, however, is those heart-thumping battle scenes, of which there are plenty, set to a stirring, patriotic score that will delight war veterans and history aficionados alike.


• At a cost of $100 million to make, Midway is one of the most expensive independent film projects ever made. The ABC Studios film was largely bankrolled by Chinese investors. (Chinese moviegoers are fond of films that show Japanese defeat. 2016’s Hacksaw Ridge grossed $62 million in China, almost as much as it did in the U.S.)

Underwater visuals of the Japanese WWII aircraft carrier Kaga.

• Talk about timing – in October 2019, the RV Petrel, an underwater exploration project founded by the late Microsoft co-founder Paul Allen, located the Kaga and the Akagi, two of the four Japanese aircraft carriers sunk by the Americans in the Battle of Midway. The four carriers were among six involved in Japan’s December 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor.

• The USS Midway, named in remembrance of the Battle of Midway and located in San Diego, is the most popular museum ship in the United States, boasting more than one million visitors per year.


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