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MOVIE INFO

Director:
Roland Emmerich
Cast:
Ed Skrein, Patrick Wilson, Woody Harrelson
Writing Credits:
Wes Tooke

Synopsis:
The story of the Battle of Midway.

MPAA:
Rated PG-13.

Box Office:
Budget
$100 million.
Opening Weekend
$17,897,419 on 3242 Screens.
Domestic Gross
$56,846,802.

DISC DETAILS
Presentation:
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
Audio:
English Dolby Atmos
Spanish Dolby 5.1
English Descriptive Audio
Subtitles:
English
Spanish
Closed-captioned
Supplements Subtitles:
None

Runtime: 138 min.
Price: $39.99
Release Date: 2/18/2020

Bonus:
• Audio Commentary with Director Roland Emmerich
• “Getting It Right” Featurette
• “The Men of Midway” Featurette
• “Man On a Mission” Featurette
• “Turning Point” Featurette
• “Breaking the Japanese Code” Featurette
• “We Met At Midway” Featurette
• Trailer & Previews
• DVD Copy


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RELATED REVIEWS


Midway [Blu-Ray] (2019)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (February 23, 2020)

Perhaps someday Hollywood will lose its fascination with stories from World War II, but this didn’t occur in 2019. With Midway, we get a big-budget look at a pivotal 1942 battle in the Pacific.

When the Japanese attack the US fleet in Pearl Harbor, America enters the global conflict and their forces find themselves at an early disadvantage. Not prepared for war, the US struggles to fight back against Japanese forces.

Six months in, both sides continue to jockey for an advantage. In June 1942, the Japanese assault the US forces located in the Midway Islands.

The Japanese hope that this will act as a defining blow that will cripple the US fleet and give the Japanese free reign in the Pacific. The US Navy fights back.

Movie fans already saw a take on this subject matter via 1976’s Midway. Also a big-budget, star-studded affair, that one offered an erratic but largely interesting take on the subject.

The 2019 Midway attempts to update the topic for 21st century audiences, though it approaches the subject in a different manner. Whereas the 1976 film spent only a little early cinematic real estate on events prior to Midway, the 2019 movie takes a long time to get to the title conflict.

This feels like a mistake. I get the filmmakers’ desire to give audiences the historical background about events that led to Midway, and this probably seems more important now than it did in the mid-1970s.

After all, when the 1976 flick hit, a fairly substantial percentage of the prospective audience remembered WWII from their own experience. That movie made it to screens a mere 34 years after the battle – given how well I recall 1986 in 2020, it doesn’t seem like a stretch for the filmmakers to assume that viewers didn’t need a comprehensive history lesson.

This feels utterly different in 2019, as the number of moviegoers who recall the Battle of Midway can’t be substantial. The 43 years between Midway films puts them in front of radically different crowds, so I get the choice to flesh out the background in the new movie.

That said, director Roland Emmerich and screenwriter Wes Tooke devote way too much time to the prologue. The film sticks with the build to Midway for such a long period that occasionally it feels like we’ll never reach the titular conflict.

Some of this attempts to build characters, but Midway does so in a poor fashion. Whereas the 1976 film mixed real figures with fictional roles, the 2019 flick concentrates on actual characters, a choice that seems likely to add power.

Unfortunately, Midway fails to explore the different roles in a manner that expands beyond trite war movie choices. We see the parts as archetypes, and not a single one develops into full-blooded characters. We care about them due to experience and conditioning, not because the film manages to form them into compelling personalities.

Honestly, Midway feels more like a facsimile of a war movie than the real thing. It acts as a conglomeration of clichés, without a single stale genre trope left unturned.

Midway comes across as a war movie made by people whose research consisted of watching a lot of war movies. You’ll find nothing creative or inventive here, as the film checks boxes with no inspiration or charisma.

While never a good storyteller, Emmerich at least manages effective action sequences in most of his movies. Alas, that strength fails the director here.

In terms of battles, I get the impression Emmerich took all his cues from Michael Bay’s 2001 effort Pearl Harbor. The battles lack originality and much impact, as they never bring the conflict to life in an impactful manner.

It doesn’t help that Midway finds itself burdened with less than convincing computer-generated effects. The ships and aircraft always come across with a “painted” vibe, so they don’t seem realistic.

Since these elements feel artificial, we don’t buy into the violent drama. Midway comes across more like a videogame than a believable war tale.

Since we know how the story ends, Midway needs to bring something new to the table to succeed. Alas, the film feels stale and limp.


The Disc Grades: Picture B+/ Audio A/ Bonus B-

Midway appears in an aspect ratio of 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. This became a largely strong image.

While most of the movie presented nice clarity, some wider shots looked a bit tentative. Still, the majority of the flick appeared solid, and no signs of moiré effects or jaggies occurred. The movie also lacked edge haloes or print flaws.

In terms of palette, Midway favored a combination of teal and amber, with an emphasis on the latter. Those choices came as no surprise, and the Blu-ray reproduced them in a satisfactory manner.

Blacks showed strong depth most of the time, though an early interior felt a little crushed. Shadows were good, with nice opacity and clarity. All of this was enough for a “B+”.

I felt consistently pleased with the excellent Dolby Atmos soundtrack of Midway. Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, the soundscape offered frequent room for information to emanate from the various speakers.

The mix used those chances well. The soundtrack delivered wall-to-wall auditory material that spread out across the speakers in a satisfying manner and that blended together nicely.

This meant an active track in which the surrounds worked as nearly equal partners and kept the mix humming. Plenty of action moments made this a consistently impressive soundfield.

Audio quality also satisfied, as speech was natural and concise, while music sounded peppy and full. Effects turned into the primary factor, and those elements appeared accurate and vivid.

Bass response added real depth and rocked my subwoofer. Expect a top-notch sonic experience here.

As we head to extras, we open with an audio commentary from director Roland Emmerich. He provides a running, screen-specific discussion of story/characters, historical elements, cast and performances, music, effects, sets and locations, and connected domains.

Few phrases terrify me as much as “audio commentary from Roland Emmerich”. Over the years, the director has brought us one dull, rambling track after another, each one made worse due to the filmmaker’s verbal tics.

Emmerich’s persistent tendency to pepper comments with “like, kind of, you know” continues to annoy – and Emmerich even acknowledges his lack of verbal fluidity toward the end of the chat. He utters these phrases less often than usual, though, and he compensates with a better than average commentary.

Better than average for Emmerich, so one should still expect dull spots. Nonetheless, Emmerich gives us a fairly informative and invested chat, one that holds up much better than his usual commentaries.

Six featurettes follow, and Getting It Right spans 14 minutes, 16 seconds. It brings notes from Emmerich, screenwriter Wes Tooke, producer Harald Kloser, production designer Kirk Petruccelli, executive producer Carsten HW Lorenz, visual effects supervisor Guillaume Murray, and actors Dennis Quaid, Woody Harrelson, Ed Skrein, Luke Kleintank, Patrick Wilson, Luke Evans, Darren Criss, and Nick Jonas.

“Right” looks at the story’s path to the screen as well as sets and locations, Emmerich’s impact, effects and attempts at realism. Expect a largely fluffy piece without much substance.

The Men of Midway runs 12 minutes, 24 seconds and offers remarks from Kloser, Emmerich, Tooke, Skrein, Harrelson, Quaid, Wilson, Evans, Kleintank, Jonas, Criss, and actor Aaron Eckhart.

We get notes about cast, characters and performances. Like “Right”, this one comes with an awful lot of happy talk and little useful information.

With Man On a Mission, we get a four-minute, 57-second reel that features Emmerich, Tooke, Eckhart, Wilson, Jonas, Kloser, Evans, Harrelson, Criss, and Kleintank.

“Mission” examines Emmerich’s interest in the Battle of Midway and his work on the production. Inevitably, this mainly means praise for the director.

Turning Point goes for 15 minutes and provides comments from historians Timothy Orr, Daqing Yang, Samuel Cox, Elliot Carlson, Liza Mundy, David Jourdan and Craig L. Symonds.

This program offers an overview of the facts behind the Battle of Midway. It becomes a good synopsis and an informative reel.

Next comes Breaking the Japanese Code, a six-minute, 14-second reel with Symonds, Carlson, Orr, Cox and Mundy.

“Code” looks at Joe Rochefort, a codebreaker played in Midway by Brennan Brown. This becomes another useful historical discussion that fleshes out movie elements.

Finally, We Met At Midway fills nine minutes, 29 seconds with info from veterans Ervin Wendt and Charles Monroe. They offer their memories of WWII experiences in this engaging program.

The disc opens with ads for Angel Has Fallen, Knives Out, Rambo: Last Blood, Hacksaw Ridge and Semper Fi. We also get the trailer for Midway.

In real-life, the Battle of Midway acted as a major turning point during World War II. As a film, Midway fails to bring impact or depth to this important tale, as it becomes a dull, perfunctory action flick. The Blu-ray delivers very good picture, excellent audio and a reasonably informative set of supplements. Midway turns into a flashy, superficial and cliché war movie.

Viewer Film Ratings: 3.6666 Stars Number of Votes: 3
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