I grew up in the 60’s and 70’s and heard all about the Battle of Midway from my father, a WWII vet. I read a lot about it too, in books like John Toland’s THE RISING SUN. I remember the 1976 Movie MIDWAY with the stellar cast of Charlton Heston , Henry Fonda , James Coburn Hal Holbrook, Robert Mitchum, Pat Morita, and Glenn Ford. I expect many will measure this 2019 movie by the 1976 classic.
I think the 1976 movie tells the “big picture” a little better and is more packed with personal drama due to the stellar acting qualities of the cast. The flamboyant personalities of the U.S. and Japanese commanders were vividly dramatized by the best actors of the day. That’s fine, because those people were flamboyant, so that movie was true-to-life.
However, the producers of this 2019 movie wisely decided not to duplicate the personality profile acting of the 1976 version. This movie is weighted more to the reality stories of the Navy men and pilots who fought the battles, with the “big picture” layered on top of that.
The scenes of battle, preparation of battle, and the counting of costs of dead and wounded after the battles are shown magnificently from the perspectives of the servicemen and their families. Perhaps about half the film is combat scenes, filmed spectacularly with aircraft and ships from the 1940’s. So, you feel as if you were a participant in going to war with the equipment of that era.
The most powerful emotionally-charged dramatic scenes are nicely tied together at the end. It’s realistic in showing the heroism of both sides without white washing the barbarity of the Japanese on some occasions, such as dealing with two shotdown American pilots the Japanese captured during the battle. I did not see anything that would be objectionable for children to see --- no gratuitous sex or offensive language.
It’s an excellent movie to understand what happened at Midway, what the stakes were for the United States, and what they meant to the men who fought and died there.
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