FILM REVIEW | Midway

At war: Ed Skrein and Luke Kleintank as real-life Navy pilots Dick Best and Clarence Dickinson in Roland Emmerich's new war film Midway, rated M, in cinemas now.
At war: Ed Skrein and Luke Kleintank as real-life Navy pilots Dick Best and Clarence Dickinson in Roland Emmerich's new war film Midway, rated M, in cinemas now.

Director Roland Emmerich is no stranger to expensive, expansive, multi-character blockbusters.

He's previously delivered big-budget hits like Independence Day, The Day After Tomorrow and 2012, so it's really no shock that he's the man behind new World War II film Midway.

The film chronicles the action and lead-up to the Battle of Midway in June, 1942, six months after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour.

Midway was released in the US almost three months ago, but here in Australia, it has come on the back of the far superior war film 1917 - to its detriment.

While the history of the Battle of Midway is certainly interesting, one can't help but wish the film had been made differently - a fate it might not have suffered if audiences were not so recently treated to a masterclass in war film-making.

In Midway's favour is its opening attack on Pearl Harbour.

Aside from some glaringly obvious CGI work - the fire and smoke looks far from real - the film succeeds in showing a shocking, brutal and completely-out-of-nowhere attack to get viewers ready for the rest of the film.

Pearl Harbor was an unexpected, tide-turning moment in America's involvement in World War II, and Midway does a good job of capturing that surprise and the effect it had on soldiers and citizens alike.

Unfortunately, the intensity and action of that opening battle is not revisited for quite a long time, with the film instead taking us into training and planning meetings as both sides gear up for another battle. What is lost in Midway's determination to cover the processes of war is character development.

There are a lot of characters to keep track of - the vast majority of which are real people - but none of them are really fleshed out.

We don't feel their pain and glory as much as we should, because we haven't been given the chance to properly care about them.

Which is a shame, because there are plenty of notable actors in the cast: Patrick Wilson, Ed Skrein, Dennis Quaid, Luke Evans, Aaron Eckhart, Nick Jonas, Darren Criss, Woody Harrelson and Mandy Moore.

Midway is entertaining enough, but nothing to write home about.

Rating: 6/10