Published on August 27th, 2007 | by Chris3
In June of 1942, quite possibly the most important naval encounter of WWII took place in the middle of the Pacific, at Midway Island. 1976's Midway sets out to show, in much the same manner that 1970's Tora! Tora! Tora! did about Pearl Harbor, the events and decisions that led up to and decided this landmark battle for naval dominance. Much like Pearl Harbor, it shows in detail how those events fell into place, and really couldn't have happened any other way.
However, Midway departs from "Tora!" in one key aspect. Midway takes on a bit of a "docudrama" aspect, as we see in the seemingly unecessary sideline plot between Capt. Matt Garth (Charleton Heston) and his son, Ensign Tom Garth (Eddie Albert.) In this plot, Tom has fallen for a Japanese-descended civilian, and dear old dad has to try and resolve this issue. What this has to do with the battle of Midway is really a mystery to me. I can only surmise that it was thrown in there in an attempt to make it less "documentary" like, and maybe to add some sort of human dimension to the story. But if you removed it, really, you'd succeed in making the film shorter and more focused.
But enough about the griping. The remainder of Midway is pure classic war movie fare. Coupled with a stellar war-movies-whos-who, such as Henry Fonda, Cliff Robertson, Robert Mitchum, Glenn Ford, Robert Wagner, Hal Holbrook, and the inimitable Toshiro Mifune as Admiral Yamamoto.... there is no denying the greatness of this picture. Also keep a close eye out for other (at the time) upcoming stars, such as Dabney Coleman, Tom Selleck, and Erik Estrada.
The action starts off a little dull, but you'll have to chalk that up to the documentary-ish style of the first part of the picture. Here we're witness to the revelation of US intelligence of the Japanese plans for Midway, or "station AF," and the decisions on both sides of the line which bring us to the second half of the film, and the tactical goings-on which decided the victory.
Once the battle begins, we're treated to stellar dogfights and epic images of airborne squadrons, intermixed with well-chosen stock footage snippets which just blend right in. A lot of care was taken in connecting the film's footage with those stock reels. You're also reminded of the sheer scale that battles were fought on in that war, hundreds of ships of all sizes, from multiple carriers with hundreds of aircraft, to the battleships and patrol boats. All of which ultimately and unfortunately cost hundreds of lives. Such a thing will probably never happen again, and I'm glad for it.
Performance-wise, the all-star cast shines. Although I'm not sure if Mifune's voice was dubbed by someone else or not, it just doesn't seem to "match" him at all. Truthfully I've never heard him speak English in another film, so I'm going off of experience. It would have been a bit more authentic for the Japanese to have been native and subtitled, as in "Tora!", but ultimately more difficult to watch.
I have to give this one a full 8 out of 10. The only reason I'm holding back that one star is due to the misplaced "Garth family" plot. I'd heartily recommend Midway to anyone, of any age, for if nothing else a grand history lesson into the most important early battles in the Pacific, and an excellent stretch of 132 minutes.
Midway (Collector's Edition)
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The battle of Midway sounded its furious thunder in June 1942, just six months after the attack on Pearl Harbor. Midway interweaves the dramatic personal stories of the men who fought the courageous battle that was to be the Pacific turning point for the United States...
DVD InformationBinding: DVD
Aspect Ratio: 2.35:1
Audience Rating: PG (Parental Guidance Suggested)
Brand: UNI DIST CORP. (MCA)
Manufacturer: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Original Release Date:
- Charlton Heston
- Henry Fonda
- James Coburn
- Glenn Ford
- Hal Holbrook
- Factory sealed DVD
Summary: I have to give this one a full 8 out of 10. The only reason I'm holding back that one star is due to the misplaced "Garth family" plot. I'd heartily recommend Midway to anyone, of any age, for if nothing else a grand history lesson into the most important early battles in the Pacific, and an excellent stretch of 132 minutes.