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November 12, 2019

Midway (2019) --- "This Battle Would Determine The Fate Of Them All."

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Hello, Movie Buffs!
    America is left reeling after Japan’s surprise and devastating attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Now actively engaged in WW2, America’s navy diligently tries to hold its place in the Pacific and strike back against Japan, who seeks to secure the area as their own. After a series of attacks between America and Japan, Lt. Commander Edwin T. Layton (Patrick Wilson) and his intelligence team uncover that the Japanese are planning an attack bigger than the one on Pearl Harbor, Midway. Basing their strategy off this information, the U.S. Navy looks to deliver a crushing blow to Japan by sending everything they’ve got to partake in the battle that could determine America's fate.
     Directed by Roland Emmerich (Stonewall, Independence Day: Resurgence) and co-written alongside Wes Tooke (Colony), Midway (2019) centers on the aftermath of the attack on Pearl Harbor and the lead up to the Battle of Midway in June of 1942, a four day naval & air battle that marked a pivotal turning point in WWII. The film is based on historical events and tells the story of how the leaders and soldiers had to use instincts, fortitude, and bravery to overcome insurmountable odds. Although historians, authors, and filmmakers have created their own version of the attack on Pearl Harbor, the infamous attack still manages to generate a lot of interest throughout the years. Many believe it to be the moment when the U.S. entered WWII but we forget that there were also crucial moments that lead up to the attack. In Midway, audiences are given a glimpse into one of these crucial moments when we are met with a scene that is set four years before the attack and shows how even then the tension between the U.S and Imperial Japan is starting to grow tense. What immediately follows after that is the Attack on Pearl Harbor (1941), next the Doolittle Raid on Tokyo (April 1942), then the Battle of Coral Sea (May 1942), and then coming a big and dramatic finale with the Battle of Midway (June 1942), a mere 6 months after Pearl Harbor.
     Out of all the battles of WWII that have been portrayed in the film, the Battle of Midway has been among the most difficult to adapt. This is due to the fact that the battle is comprised of a number of complex events that are then spread out of hundreds of miles of ocean and span a period of 4 days. However, director Emmerich and his team do an incredible job at balancing the historical elements with dramatic interpretation which in turn creates an emotional, heart-pounding, and awe-inspiring story. 
In addition to showcasing the U.S. soldiers and their struggle with holding the line against a seemingly insurmountable force, the story also showcases the perspectives of the Japanese characters with a great deal of thought, care, and respect. They had differing views of the Americans they fought: Some of them thought the Americans were cowards or lacked bravery, while others admired their tenacity and unwillingness to quit even in the face of death. They were one of America’s biggest enemies and yet they were humanized and given the chance to show their side of the story as well. 
     The film features an ensemble cast that is made up of some of the most talented actors of our time. Ed Skrein (Game of Thrones, Maleficent: Mistress of Evil) is unforgettable as one of the main characters, Dick Best. Patrick Wilson’s (Aquaman) portrayal of lead intelligence Lt. Commander Edwin T. Layton, who believed Japan would attack Pearl Harbor but no one believed him, was spot on. Woody Harrelson (Zombieland 2: Double Tap) ditches his usual hippy role and opts for a tan and startlingly white-hair for his performance as Admiral Nimitz, whom he looks exactly like. Considering Aaron Eckhart’s (The Romanoffs) powerful performances in Olympus Has Fallen and London Has Fallen it is no surprise that he was chosen to play Lt. Col. Jimmy Doolittle. Dennis Quaid (A Dog’s Journey) is like aged wine in his performance as the rough and gruff Admiral Bull Halsey, a major figure during WWII, while Luke Evans (Anna, The Alienist) sports a dashing mustache in his portrayal as Lt. Cdr Wade McClusky. Luke Kleintank (The Man in the High Castle) as Lieutenant Clarence Dickinson, the first person to receive 3 Navy Crosses, and Keean Johnson (Alita: Battle Angel, Euphoria) as Chief Aviation Radioman James Murray were great and charming in their respective roles. Mandy Moore (This is Us) was beautiful as Dick Best’s wife, Anne, and Brennan Brown () perfect and humorous as lead code breaker genius Joseph Rochefort. Young audience members will be excited to see a handsome Darren Criss (American Crime Story) as Lt. Commander Eugene Lindsey and a muscle-bulging Nick Jonas (Jumanji: Next Level) as the tough, Milwaki native, Aviation Machinist Mate First Class, Bruno P. Gaido. The Japanese actors also do an incredible job with their respective performances: Etsushi Toyokawa (Love Letter) plays Admiral Yamamoto, known for his famous quote “I fear that all we have done is to awaken a sleeping giant and fill him with a terrible resolve.” Jun Kunimura (Kill Bill: Vol. 1, Suits) portrays Admiral Nagumo and Tadanobu Asano (Battleship, Mortal Kombat) portrays Rear Admiral Tamaguchi. The rest of the characters also give great performances. 

     Overall, Midway (2019) is an intense, dramatic, and emotional film that opens just in time for the 77th anniversary of the decisive battle of World War II. The film is a beautiful tribute to those who participated in the battle of Midway and offers a little insight into the struggles that America faced in holding the line after such a devastating loss at Pearl Harbor. In addition to portraying America’s struggles, the film also pays respect to the Japanese and gives adequate time to tell their side of the story. The cast performances are incredible, and while some were more powerful than others, each gave their all to their respective performances. All in all, if you are looking for an exciting and patriotic film that details the events following Pearl Harbor than I suggest you check out this film, especially while it is still in theaters. 

Final Vote --- 9 of 10 stars

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