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THE NEW BATTLE OF “MIDWAY”

Ed Skrein and Luke Kleintank as Dick Best and Clarence Dickinson (Photo from IMDB)

Ed Skrein and Luke Kleintank as Dick Best and Clarence Dickinson (Photo from IMDB)

Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow, and 2012, these disaster films all have one thing in common, and it’s not the direction of the explosive cinema king Michael Bay—these are all films by Bay’s fellow explosion expert (?) Roland Emmerich, whose list also includes the likes of 10,000 BC, White House Down, and a terrible Godzilla reboot.

Just like Bay, Emmerich has a knack for going all out in the telling of his disaster films, albeit never receiving critical acclaim for any of them (Independence Day and his other film The Patriot share the spoils as his best film, both barely breaching 65 percent among critics). But if there is one Emmerich can be lauded for, it his dedication to making sure viewers will enjoy the disaster (pun intended) he is about to present, and he gives his talents another go in his latest film Midway.

Midway covers the titular naval battle during World War II, which was a turning point in the war in the Pacific. A film about the Battle of Midway also titled Midway has been made before, starring Hollywood royalty Charlton Heston and Henry Fonda, but it too received mixed reviews so it begs to question why Emmerich thought it would be a good idea to give the battle another go.

Patrick Wilson as Edwin Layton (Photo from IMDB)

Patrick Wilson as Edwin Layton (Photo from IMDB)

Emmerich’s Midway may just be his best outing yet, even with his familiar explosions, but the excitement of the battles are overshadowed by an eye-candy cast—including some underused actors—predictable pacing and outcomes, and over-reliance on visual effects.

Worthy of note is the ample screen time that Emmerich allotted to show the Japanese side of the story, offering audiences a chance to understand both parties’ intentions and try to gain their empathy (it fails in that department). It can also be argued that the Battle of Midway is an interesting topic to tackle, given the abundance of World War II stories and how the war in the Pacific is overshadowed by the bombing of Pearl Harbor (another pun intended, thanks to Bay)—Emmerich does give a glimpse of the aforementioned bombing, and those few minutes may just be better than the horror that Bay produced.

As said earlier, having the likes of Nick Jonas and Darren Criss only lead viewers to focus on appearance rather than performance, even if the two tried their best to add value to their characters. The acting department of Midway is carried by Woody Harrelson, whose versatility only continues to shine in his portrayal of Chester Nimitz. Absolutely underused is Aaron Eckhart as Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolitle, whose inclusion in the film is simply to further expand the events leading to the Battle of Midway. In fact the entire code-breaking team led by Patrick Wilson’s Edwin Layton deserved more screen time given how integral they were to the Americans predicting the Japanese planned attack on Midway.

Aaron Eckhart as Jimmy Doolittle (Photo from IMDB)

Aaron Eckhart as Jimmy Doolittle (Photo from IMDB)

If there is one good takeaway from the cast, it is that Ed Skrein deserves more leading roles in films. After gaining popularity from Deadpool, Alita: Battle Angel, and most recently Maleficent: Mistress of Evil, he shows how adaptable he can be as an actor in his portrayal of the film’s hero, pilot Dick Best. Some of his best scenes, if not his thrilling encounters aboard his bomber, are opposite Luke EvansWade McClusky—both men prove that a little amount of grit can be some sort of acting salvation.

As mentioned, Midway contains Emmerich’s familiar big-time explosions, but on this try—even if some flames clearly look fake—there is some added weight to the film’s excitement, perhaps brought about by how relatively unknown the Battle of Midway as compared say to the D-Day landings in Normandy or the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

Try as he did though, Emmerich cannot seem to overcome the mediocre type of film making that he does, but based on Midway he only seeks to show how dedicated he is to showing everyone a piece of history, and how exciting his job can be—explosions and all.



Source: Manila Bulletin

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