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Drama, Action, History, War
IMDB rating:
Jack Smight
Henry Fonda as Admiral Chester W. Nimitz
Glenn Ford as Rear Admiral Raymond A. Spruance
Biff McGuire as Captain Miles Browning
Ed Nelson as Admiral Harry Pearson
Monte Markham as Commander Max Leslie
Cliff Robertson as Commander Carl Jessop
Robert Wagner as Lieutenant Commander Ernest L. Blake
Robert Mitchum as Admiral William F. Halsey
Hal Holbrook as Commander Joseph Rochefort
James Shigeta as Vice Admiral Chuichi Nagumo
Charlton Heston as Captain Matt Garth
James Coburn as Captain Vinton Maddox
Toshirô Mifune as Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto (as Toshiro Mifune)
Robert Webber as Rear Admiral Frank J. 'Jack' Fletcher
Storyline: The summer of 1942 brought Naval stalemate to the Pacific as the American and Japanese fleets stood at even numbers each waiting for the other to begin a renewed offensive. "Midway" tells the story of this historic June battle where a Japanese carrier force, in an attempt to occupy Midway island and lure the American fleet to destruction, was meet valiently by US forces operating off of three aircraft carriers and numerous escort ships. It was the first battle in which naval air power was extensivly used, and at its conclusion the Japanese Carrier force had been completly destroyed which lead the way for the US 1943 and 44 offensives which would eventually bring the Pacific War to a close.
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Torpid, Torpid, Torpid
This has to be one of the slowest-moving war movies ever. And I was afraid of it back when it came out, because it was in Sensurround, which meant the woofers were tweaked low and you got to not only hear but feel every rumble as the bombs and torpedoes lit into the oil tanks and set the carriers ablaze. That was a pretty intimidating sound back in the day, lemme tell you. But that was a million years ago.

Midway was one of the greatest military battles ever, certainly the greatest naval contest of the greatest war ever, and as a conflict showcasing equal parts bravery, strategy, and luck. But this movie is a strange recreation that promotes aging 1970s star power over a coherent plot line. Most perplexing is the concentration on many over-the-hill American actors in telling the story of how the battle for Midway was won by the Red, White, and Blue. Charlton Heston carries much of the story, yet both his character and his actions are highly unrealistic. For a near-flag officer, we're asked to accept him called on in a pinch leading a dive-bombing squadron at such an advanced age. Henry Fonda scratches his head as Admiral Nimitz, stuck at Pearl Harbor as the war is fought hundreds of miles away, while Robert Mitchum's Admiral Halsey is confined to bed with a nasty skin condition, and Hal Halbrook as an intelligence chief seems to suffer from a bad case of BO. At least we were spared a John Wayne cameo, as an admiral who couldn't leave the john with a nasty case of hemorrhoids.

In movies about D-Day or Operation Market Garden, we got to see a little more of a few of the trenchline view, which enhanced our appreciation of what was endured as well as what was won (and lost). Here it's all a case of transferring flags and staring at maps by the highest commanders. Boardroom battles. Meanwhile, the Japanese high command seems populated exclusively by Arnold from "Happy Days," Jack Klugman's assistant in "Quincy," and assorted North and South Korean extras from "M*A*S*H." A nice sense of the decade, except that decade is the 1970s, not the 1940s.

It's a battle whose story deserves telling, but not with cutscenes from "Tora, Tora, Tora" and "The World At War." The tacked-on subplot with American-boy-loves-Japanese-girl feels suspect, like a politically-correct nod at inclusiveness at the expense of telling the story the way it happened. If they really wanted to be inclusive, it would have been a Zero pilot and his Yank girl, who swears she has nothing to do with awful FDR and his foul plans against Japan's Asian Co-Prosperity Sphere.

What else is there to lambaste? The ridiculous supers we get around various characters, including no less than three around the lone survivor and Kojak sidekick George Gay, as played by Kevin Dobson? The silly radio chatter among the American pilots, who sound more like American Top 40 DJs than warriors trying to sink the Imperial Navy? I like the occasional hints of verisimilitude we get, like the oil burns around the cowlings of Avengers about to launch, but the blue paint on the American jeeps and the Essex carriers that substitute for the Japanese fleet distract too much for any real enjoyment. Read Gordon Prange, and leave this be.
They sacrifice themselves like samurai, these Americans.
A critical part of WWII gets the big epic cinematic treatment, with all star casting and lots of noise. Though purporting to be exactly how things were during this particular battle, a pinch of salt is also needed. Much of the film is taken up with laying foundations for the air-sea engagement of the title, political posturing and military machinations are joined by needless sub-plots. The dialogue is often cheese laden, some characterisations equally so, while the splicing of real life footage and other war movie moments start to detract. However, the last third of film is thrilling and worth waiting for, a whirl of battle action as the Pacific conflict comes vividly to life both visually and aurally. 6.5/10
A Major Turkey! Universal Studios Let Us Down!!
Around 1976 many war movie fans waited for the release of Universal Studios' movie `Midway' with great expectations since it was supposed to be a quasi-follow-up movie of the artistically successful "Tora, Tora, Tora" of 1970. Universal Studios let these fans down in a major way. Even though this movie was supposed to depict a major World War II naval battle, which changed the course of history, it turned out to be a cheap patch-up job with a mediocre script and horrendous film editing.

The editing of this movie shows how the director and producers of this movie tried to cut corners as much as possible, and the cheapness of their job shows. The battle scenes were largely borrowed from three sources: 1) archive footages (colorized in a phony way), 2) 1970 movie "Tora, Tora, Tora" and 3) 1962 Japanese war movie "I Bombed Pearl Harbor." The editors did a rather sloppy job of editing the different archive footages. For example, the movie contains post 1942 archive footages (one can tell by the newer version of the U.S. insignia) and even some post-World War II archive footages. There are numerous other examples of sloppy editing like this. To keep the budget down, the director filmed almost no original special effect scenes for this movie; the special effect scenes were largely borrowed from "I Bombed Pearl Harbor." Japanese film buffs used to think that Hollywood was the international center of filmmaking. After seeing this cheap patch-up job, they mocked and sneered at the cheapness of borrowing so much from an old Japanese movie and decried the decline of Hollywood's creativity.

This movie is one of the numerous history-based Hollywood movies in which the screenwriters added their boring and mediocre fictional story lines to the historical events and ended up messing up the whole movie. I wonder why so many Hollywood screenwriters do that. Often the insertion of fictional story lines adds nothing positive to the script. In fact, by adding fictional story lines, fact-based movies tend to lose authenticity. Furthermore, the addition of the fictional story lines to the historical events unnecessarily diverts audience's attention from the more interesting historical events. In many cases, including the Battle of Midway, the factual historical dramas are so fascinating that there is no need to add anything fictional. In this movie what was the need to create the fictional central character Capt. Garth? There were so many interesting historical characters who could have been the central character. Even though I am highly critical of the mistreatment by the U.S. government of people of Japanese origin during World War II, I do not understand the purpose of inserting the thin story line about Garth's son courting a Japanese young woman. This story line did absolutely nothing dramatically or artistically.

The screenwriters of this film did not give any of the stars--including Charleton Heston, Henry Fonda, Robert Mitchum, Glenn Ford, James Coburn, Hal Holbrook and Toshiro Mifune--a proper opportunity to showcase their talents. Because of this shortcoming in the script, the acting of the cast members looked rather bland and disjointed. Also, Japanese characters in the movie (e.g. Admiral Yamamoto, Admiral Nagumo, etc.) should have spoken in Japanese with English subtitles added. That would have added to the authenticity of the movie. This maybe a minor point, but Admiral Nagumo had closely cropped hair just like many of the Japanese naval officers of World War II. James Shigeta, who played Nagumo, should have cut his hair shorter or at least worn a wig. (If the reader of this comment wants to see Mifune doing a much better job of playing Adm. Yamamoto, he or she should see the 1968 Japanese movie "Isoroku Yamamoto" in which Mifune starred as Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto.)

The only interesting thing of note about this movie is the depiction of the Battle of Coral Sea, a very significant pre-Midway aircraft carrier battle, which has been largely neglected by Hollywood until this movie.

In spite of great expectations, "Midway" turned out to be a big, disappointing turkey. Watch it only if you have lots of extra time to spare.
It's overall what counts
This was one of my favorite movies when I was growing up and building models of land, sea, and air craft of the WWII period. Of course we all could have done without the romantic interest, but what counts is the overall telling of the story accurately (even if that includes sideline dramatizations etc.). In a nutshell Midway was a gamble and even though we knew where they'd be, we still took it on the chin with the loss of most of the aircraft and the Yorktown (which left only 2 effective carriers in the pacific and 1 in drydock). In the end we were lucky enough to be able to inflict sufficiently more damage on them than they did on us. This is the story that is told so well. It doesn't matter that the special effects were less than stellar (e.g., view of the fleet from the sealevel - obvious miniatures) or that they showed Essex class carriers which did not yet exist getting hit by kamikaze. The film is true in its depictions of gambles, gaffs, and good fortune which in the end allowed us to be victorious and end Japanese expansion. So quit knocking it and enjoy it for what it is!
Midway says it all... 5/10 stars
The battle of Midway was the turning point in the battle for the pacific, and the motion picture gives the audience a glimpse into the intricate strategies that went down. The movie captures not only the warfare, but also the romeo & juliet affair of a soldier in love. Six months after pearl harbor, one can imagine the tensions between Americans and Japanese citizens, but none the less Tom falls in love with Horoku. They long to be together but are forced to be separated because of their racial difference. This movie accurately shows the affects that war can have on society, and how hate of the enemy is sometimes considered enough to cancel out love. throughout the whole movie, the characters must overcome odds and go above and beyond to win, and they do just that. It was a good movie and everyone should watch it to learn about Japanese vs America... THE ULTIMATE SMACKDOWN
OK War Film, Great Documentary?
This film is not an action-packed war film filled with constant loud heroism and stirring speeches. It is, however, a film which gives a good overview of how the battle of 'Midway' unfolded. Fewer explosions, more dialog - almost like a documentary in its pacing and focus. It has a large cast, and thus cannot focus much on character development, instead looking to the events to power the story (again, like a non-biographical documentary).

Though the 'goofs' page is filled with anachronisms and inaccuracies (stock footage from the wrong era, using Essex-class ships for Japanese, etc...) the film does get the major 'plot' points down. i.e.: American signal intelligence intercepts revealing the Japanese plan, the sequence of carrier and land attacks, the critical decision(s) to arm and rearm the Japanese attack craft, etc...

Overall, this film seems to be one of a lost genre - big-budget semi-documentaries. Similar to 'Tora Tora Tora' or 'The Longest Day'. A large cast of big-name actors, focus on factual retelling of the events.
A decent movie that could have been a very good movie
I have done a fair amount of reading on the battle of Midway. Military historians rate it very critical to the war in the Pacific; the death of a large number of skilled, experienced Japanese pilots on 6/4/42 probably shortened the war. The battle was very involved; approximately 50 ships (7 were aircraft carriers) and 600 planes were involved. One would think that this would be enough to make an entertaining and educational movie. But the producer had to clutter it with the relationships between four fictional characters; Charlton Heston's character, his ladyfriend, his son, and his son's girlfriend. The time involved could better be used in presenting more of the many details of the battle. A very good source was available: "Midway; the Battle that Doomed Japan" by Mitsuo Fuchida. He was there; when the bombs were falling.
Gets a Lot of TV Airings Considering
This treatment of an account of the Battle of Midway was originally done for theaters in Sense-Surround sound. That meant that when the planes took off, your ears would think it was real sounding & the theaters would shake from the sound. This was Hestons Second film using this technology, the first was Earthquake.

There is an aged all star male cast in this. There is also a love triangle involving Heston's son & a Japanese girl which adds nothing to the film. There is some decent action sequences but most are watered down & some of them are actually stock footage from Tora Tora Tora, & some reprocessed World War 2 footage.

Overall, this film from Mirsch productions was really an effort to get another Sense-Surround film into theaters. There weren't but a handful made & at the time it was Hollywoods main effort to get folks out of the living room & back to the theaters. I have seen worse films, & also better ones, but if you like the war genre, you will find this is better than some films.
Damn! Another War Classic With Gun Fanatic Charleton Heston
Overall, this was a decent offering for the resources available. The sub-plot of the whole interracial love thing was more or less useless, and seemed more like a time filler than an important part of the film. As far as the story and its relevance and the portrayal thereof, it captured adequately the point of the battle and the sequence of events. I'd give it a 7 out of 10, due to the fact that I'm just used to a little more finesse, and am easily entertained by shiny stuff and loud noises. Midway Was Really Important. M.W.R.I. Sweeeet stuff I have a love-hate relationship with it. Spoiler Alert! Actually, no. Not a spoiler. Have fun and enjoy watching.
On The Turn Of a Dime
The film Midway shows in graphic documentary style, the battle that did nothing less than save America and ultimately allow us to win World War II. If the Japanese had prevailed at Midway, they might very well have taken Hawaii and been blockading our continental Pacific coast. We might have had to declare a truce and hope that public opinion would allow us to continue the European and North African war. Remember the USA was brought in to the war because of the Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor, not Hitler's attack.

There is a plot of sorts with Charlton Heston as the fictional pilot group commander who's involved in helping his son Edward Albert help a Nisei family who've been interred for the duration of the war because Albert is engaged to the daughter. That's the one weakness of Midway, the story really wasn't necessary and detracted with the very precise telling of the Midway tale. Had they left it out, Midway had the potential to be a classic like The Longest Day.

Without Charlton Heston and his family problems, the story of Midway is told with remarkable historic accuracy. Henry Fonda who played Admiral Chester W. Nimitz in all but name in In Harm's Way, gets to play Nimitz again in Midway. Robert Mitchum and Glenn Ford play Admirals William Halsey and Raymond Spruance who between the two of them won America's Pacific war. A whole lot of fine character actors like James Coburn, Robert Wagner, Robert Webber, Hal Holbrook and many more fill their naval roles to precision.

The story of the Battle of Midway should be told and told again in America's public schools for future generations. Not just because of the sailors and airmen of America's greatest generation who fought and prevailed at Midway, but because of just how close a run thing the Battle of Midway was. One very fateful decision by Admirals Yamamoto and Nagumo turned the tide of battle on a dime. By the way the oriental players in Midway like Toshiro Mifune as Yamamoto and James Shigeta as Nagumo and others also play very well. The American cinema certainly came a long way from when they previously cast the Japanese as bucktooth primates.

When the viewer sees just how much pure luck played a part in winning at Midway, they will come away with one of two impressions. The first might be that a divine providence is guiding and protecting America. If so, who's to say that will always be the case. And if not, the second lesson might be that we as a country might not always be so lucky.

If they could edit out the Heston family story, Midway is a great film for history classes studying World War II.
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