Film # 27 in the World War II Marathon, with Erik Estrada!
Written By: Donald S. Sanford
Directed By: Jack Smight
A movie like Midway is simple to break down, either you have fun with it or you don’t. I’m sure that the people involved with the picture were going for a certain level of seriousness in the end result, and they did succeed in some ways, but Midway is a movie that lives and dies based on whether or not you have fun with the last hour and find it interesting. I did, even the cheesy aspects of that final hour, and that’s why Midway is a good, but not great, movie in my eyes.
To get the bad stuff out of the way is easy. The dialogue is clunky at times, failing to sound real, instead taking on more of a choppy proclamation style. The filmmakers create a universe that is far too small, the epitome of this is Charlton Heston jumping in a plane and being the one to down the last Japanese carrier. But, the biggest problem with Midway is the love story and the attempt at acting by Edward Albert as Tom and Christina Kokubo as Haruko. The entire love storyline is garbage from start to finish and the performances of those two actors is cringe inducing, especially the scene when Haruko breaks down, I had to stop myself from laughing, she was that bad.
Admittedly, Midway is a film with all kinds of problems, but it does get quite a bit right as well. I loved the strategy based feel of the storytelling. The camera cutting back and forth between the Americans and Japanese as they laid out their plans for the battle was fascinating to me, the history buff in me quite enjoyed the intelligence being shown, it was like a worldwide game of chess. Once you get past the stratagem aspect you have the final battle, and it is a long one. It is cheesy at times, and it does drag on for a bit too much. But, I liked what they gave me and while some people have ragged on it, I thought the melding of movie footage and historical footage was well done. It’s not the best action you will ever see, but it is engaging nonetheless.
One facet of Midway that I absolutely loved was the large cast. Most times when movies try for the huge star studded cast the movie feels too cumbersome and the actors phone in their roles. I didn’t find that to be the case with Midway. Don’t get me wrong, there weren’t any award winning caliber performances or anything, but each and every actor put effort into their role and you could tell they were having fun with their characters. Besides, who doesn’t love Henry Fonda pondering while Charlton Heston is mugging?
It’s not the best World War II movie you’ll ever see and it certainly isn’t the best of cinema. But, Midway was a lot of fun and it kept me interested throughout. It’s not deep and it is spotty at times, however as I said in the beginning, it is a movie that is good if you have fun with it. I had fun with the battle and the strategy, maybe you will too.