Cinematic Releases: Midway (2019) - Reviewed

Some stories don't require a retelling. Yet, this weekend sees Roland Emmerich's latest action spectacle rolled out into theaters with no luster or impact. As a remake of a much better movie from 1976, Emmerich had his work cut out for him but simply fails at knowing when and where to stop. WWII is not his forte. 

Much like his Independence Day: Resurgence, too much time is spent on creating computer generated imagery than giving his audience well rounded characters or plot. Although there's this amazing battle and a true tale of American heroism at its core, Midway is an exercise in one dimensional acting, terrible story telling, and digitally rendered scenarios that feel like they're cold leftovers from Michael Bay's 2001 film Pearl Harbor. 

With a great cast that features the charismatic skills of Woody Harrelson, Patrick Wilson, Dennis Quaid, and Luke Evans, the film mostly rests on the absolutely barren talents of Ed Skrein, who does zilch to rectify another Emmerich big budget flop. Like most of his other movies, the set pieces and visual effects shots can be impressive, but become too much of the focus. Instead of giving us a rousing film about the turning point of the war, most will be too busy concentrating on the various problematic areas in the script that turn vital pilots and commanders into one sided, cardboard cut-outs. It's so bad at times that it feels disrespectful to the true heroes of the war. 

Centered on two hours of computer generated warfare, the director's latest film is a rather dull undertaking that is bursting at the seams with heroism but is fully lacking in any connection to the characters on screen. Chronicling the attack on Pearl Harbor and the days leading up to the battle at Midway and then the ensuing fire fight, Emmerich does a substantial job recreating that WWII tone of patriotism but doesn't ever allow his audience to feel anything remotely human. Using Skrein as the central focal point, I was quickly dismissive at taking any of this very seriously. He lacks any chemistry with his counterparts and just seems soulless. 

Sadly, Midway seems to take off quickly but crashes and burns. This is one of those movies that's better watched at home on a Saturday afternoon on Netflix or Amazon Prime than it is a theatrical experience. Maybe it sounds silly considering this is a historical piece, but features like Christopher Nolan's Dunkirk at least tried to do something new with the World War II narrative. Here it's just repetitious and corny. 

-Chris George