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Overall Rating

Awesome: 18.18%
Worth A Look54.55%
Average: 13.64%
Pretty Bad: 9.09%
Total Crap: 4.55%

1 review, 16 user ratings

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Battle of Midway, The
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by Brian McKay

"This is what 'Pearl Harbor' should have been"
4 stars

It's certainly far from perfect, but it does more justice to the subject matter than the Michael Bay fiasco (sorry, I should clarify, the fiasco he made about Pearl Harbor, not the other ones). At least the love story is kept to a minimum, and most of the plot actually centers around the events of the battle.

Midway is one of those "All-Star Cast" movies - well, all star for 1976. Half of these guys are dead or in a home now. Even the young actors who were up and coming are now has-beens. Sadly, it appears that most of the budget was spent on the cast, as the film uses a lot of recycled footage from other movies (i.e. "Tora, Tora, Tora"), and "authentic" (read: cheap) stock war footage.

Among the cast are Heston, Fonda, Mitchum, Ford, and most of the other big-gun actors of the day. Their Japanese counterparts, including Toshiro Mifune and James Shigeta, are equally competent. None of them were going to win any Oscars, but the acting is sufficient to move the story along, and the story is what's more important. The only tragedy is that they dubbed over Mifune's voice, and it is so painfully obvious every time he opens his mouth. Apparently they felt his English wasn't quite up to snuff. Never mind the fact that he was one of the greatest fucking actors of the century . . . but I digress.

The battle of Midway was one of the most pivotal in World War 2. American forces, based on a combination of sketchy intelligence, intuition, and luck, managed to get the jump on the Japanese fleet and take out four Carriers, losing only one of our own in the process. Many have complained about the choppy and confusing editing, but I found the story enthralling and relatively easy to follow. At least it has the decency to devote the majority of the film to the actual events, and not get bogged down in a fictitious, smarmy love affair.

Not that this film doesn't have a fictitious love affair of it's own. There is a small subplot regarding an american pilot and his Japanese-American fiancee' who has been placed in an internment center with her family. Many people feel that this dragged the movie down, but I think it's impact was minimal. It only took up about 15 minutes of overall screen time, and it was much more interesting and far less melodramatic than it's bloated counterpart in "Pearl Harbor". At least the film made some attempt, no matter how minor, to show the plight of Japanese-Americans who were caught in the middle.

The action scenes are competent, although the constant switching between studio shot film and stock WW2 footage can be a bit jarring. Some of the stock footage is pretty cool to watch, as planes go tumbling into the sea, but gets a bit tiresome after a while.

The film, while fairly balanced, does land a bit heavy on the American perspective overall. However, at least the Japanese have a little personality and are not completely portrayed as automatons. I wouldn't recommend it as a history primer, but it's certainly interesting enough to make you want to read more on the subject matter.

It's not as good as "Tora, Tora, Tora", but it's certainly more watchable than "Pearl Harbor", even without the cool CGI explosions and dogfights. Recommended for anyone interested in WW2 films.

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originally posted: 08/01/01 16:57:12
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User Comments

2/28/13 Ed Has some flaws but tells the story 4 stars
9/02/10 mr.mike I liked the matter-of-fact tone and minimal flag-waving. 4 stars
4/18/06 AJ Decent attempt at one of WWII's most important battles 4 stars
8/10/05 Captain Craig A lot of technical flaws, but interesting nevertheless. 3 stars
6/13/05 harold why do they omit the coral sea episode out of it 5 stars
10/09/04 John good cast- it has it's moments but they are few and far between 2 stars
3/13/04 Evan Engelgau I really like the movie despite some drawbacks (i.e. editing). I would LOVE to see remake! 4 stars
5/15/03 tkid92 Its awesome, not really but its worth a look 5 stars
5/03/03 trevor its a great movie but could use a little help at some points in the movie. It sucked. 1 stars
2/19/03 Matthew Jones Best Pacific Naval movie so far; would love to see a remake without the love story... 4 stars
8/04/02 jane bosace i did like it. It was more accurate than a lot of movies historically,; 4 stars
2/01/02 Susan GREAT MOVIE 5 stars
12/11/01 Jesus Espindola too many All Stars 3 stars
9/23/01 Larry Smith Outstanding Henry Fonda - Charlton Heston vehicle! 5 stars
5/01/01 R.W. Welch Caution: This is not the feature film "Midway" but a documentary shot during the battle. 3 stars
2/04/01 Invader A bland boring war epic that even Fonda could not save 2 stars
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Directed by
  John Ford

Written by
  John Ford
  Dudley Nichols

  Henry Fonda
  Jane Darwell

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