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What Went Wrong With… Midway?

A review of Midway (2019) for whatwentwrongwith.com

Roland Emmerich’s films are getting progressively worse. Universal Soldier and Independence Day were corny but there was something likeable about them, and whether it was the actors or the playful, non-serious premise, they successfully entertained. Once Emmerich abandoned miniatures and moved over to computer generated imagery, his films have become utterly dire. From The Day After Tomorrow, 2012, Whitehouse Down, to his Independence Day sequel, Roland’s filmography is now littered with back-to-back CGI misery and Midway is his latest filmic turd that slots-in somewhere between his favourite subject of apocalyptic explosions and mundane Americana.

Midway is released just in time for Remembrance Sunday and Veteran’s Day so I assume the studio hopes a surge in annual militarism will mask the movie’s shortcomings. Given the time of year that this flick is released, Midway is quite obviously targeting a certain type of audience, and since the veterans who took part in the two world wars are dying out, the demographic who buys tickets to such a film are predictable stereotypes these days. I sat there in the cinema imagining what the audience would look like and as predicted, in walked a bunch of dobbers, the kind of twats who dangle the St. George’s Cross out of their bedroom window as they support a war they’re too cowardly to take part in; basically gammon wearing their Sports Direct outfits smelling of Lynx because it was on a 3 for 2 deal at Asda this week.

Even though some of these fake-patriots laughed at the “go fuck yourself” type lines (said by the Americans to the Japanese of course) these gammon slices found themselves short-changed by this movie. Midway isn’t your regular gung-ho film, there’s no nauseating Coca-Cola blood-bottling as there was in Michael Bay‘s Peal Harbor for instance. This film seems to have toned-down its potential offensiveness which is part of the reason for the bad reviews (including one from Military Times who thought it wasn’t anti-Japanese enough). Given that a war film is generally for err… blinkered morons who support their military, Midway isn’t militaristic enough for those sorts of people and since it isn’t an anti-war movie either, it’s just a bland disappointment to all sides.

Given that some of the funding for this film comes from China, there’s some inclusion of Asians who are usually forgotten about when it comes to World War II. There’s a very corny scene in which Jimmy Doolittle (played by Aaron Eckhart) receives a handshake after a Chinese man asks him “you bomb Japan?”. Whilst on the topic of American soldiers, nobody in this film uses any racial epithets, they refer to the Japanese as “the Japs!” (yeah, I’m sure that’s what they called them in real life). We also have during the closing credits, a dedication to “The American and The Japanese” which is quite novel given the genre. But even though these may be progressive, proper, or pussy concepts for an American war film (depending on your point of view and the tattoos on your arm) the movie itself isn’t original in any way.

Midway has many typical characters; the cocky fighter pilot, the scared newbie, the dutiful wife, the intelligent intelligence officer, the stubborn and gruff Naval Admiral – they’re all military movie cliches. And speaking of cliches, there’s a no-fuel, sideways landing that the lead character does at the beginning… and wouldn’t you know it, just as the audience is supposed to think he’s dead, he comes through the clouds of smoke and repeats the same maneuver during the finale (cue the triumphant music). Midway is essentially cobbled together using scenes that you’ve seen before but in an order that’s not exactly riveting. The film is composed like this: a burgundy font showing a date and location, an explosion, some manly banter… and repeat for 2 hours and 18 minutes. There’s a cheap, B-movie look thanks to Emmerich who doesn’t possess any kind of visual style that’s exclusive to him (even being mediocre isn’t unique to the man). The central hero character is called “Dick Best” (played by Ed Skrein) and although Richard Halsey Best was a real pilot, in this kind of butch and unintelligent film, the use of his nickname was most likely intentional.

Midway is of course, set in the 30s and 40s so some genius (possibly Roland Emmerich himself) uses a sepia filter during the opening to show us we’re dealing with the past. And in case you didn’t realise, the line “we won” is spoken during the film’s finale. Maybe instead of pratty patriots, the target audience for this film are halfwits and Nick Jonas fans (I think there might be a crossover there). So unsurprisingly, Midway is terrible in every way. There’s dull dialogue, drab direction, dodgy accents and even dodgier effects. This film is…

Mid-Way Between Crap And Shite.

Writing: 1/10

Directing: 1/10

Acting: 1/10

Overall: 1/10

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