Monday, November 25, 2019

"Midway" (2019) again

To be honest, when I first found out they were making a new movie about the Battle of Midway, my first thought was, "Why?  We already have a movie about Midway.  Do we really need another one?"

Yes, we do.

gushed and gushed about this movie after my first time seeing it.  I've seen it twice now, and yup, I still say this is the best new-to-me movie I've seen all year.  It's so well-crafted in every way.  The writing is smart, the acting is stellar, and the special effects leave me breathless.

One of the things I like best about this movie is how it starts before the attack on Pearl Harbor.  It shows that, plus some other naval engagements that followed, and even included Doolittle's Raid!  That really helped the audience understand how important Midway was in so many ways, not just the military aspects.  Like how emotionally invested people on both sides were, and how they were mentally engaged in this.  Beautifully done.

But what I loved best, of course, were the people.  I don't want to call them characters, since these are actual people being portrayed but, as always, it's the people that make me love it.  So I'm going to spend the bulk of this review talking about them.

After two views, I basically love everybody in this film.  You know who I love most, though?  Edwin Layton (Patrick Wilson).  I didn't even know Patrick Wilson was in this -- really, all I knew going in the first time was that Luke Evans was in it and DKoren was wild about it.  And, you know, that it was about Midway, obviously.

So Wilson showed up onscreen, and I was like, "DUDE!  Is that Patrick Wilson?!?"  Because really the only thing I've ever seen him in before is The Phantom of the Opera (2004), and I've always been bummed he hasn't made other things that interest me, besides that and The Alamo (2004), which I still haven't seen.  So I was all excited the he was in this too.  And by the end of the first viewing, Layton had tied with Best and McClusky as my favorite person in it.  (More about the other two in a minute.)

By the end of the second viewing, Layton was far and away my favorite.  He's quiet, intelligent, and stubborn, and he's using everything within himself to help others.  How am I not going to love a guy like that?  Made-to-order for me.

Also, his wife Dagne (Rachael Perrell Fosket) was extremely awesome and supportive.

Now, let's all be real: the reason I went to this movie in the first place was Luke Evans.  I've been looking forward to this movie for months because I knew he was in it.  I love WWII movies and learning about WWII history, so having one of my favorite actors portray a real WWII hero?  Yes, please!

I was kinda worried he would have a tiny role, but nope!  Wade McClusky is an important part of the story and plays a pivotal role in the Battle of Midway itself.  He's mostly stern and kinda has that by-the-book thing going on, but once in a while, he gets all sassy, and I laughed aloud over several of his lines.

Props to Luke Evans for his good American accent (though I missed his delicious Welsh cadence, to be honest).  Also, he has the best mustache in the whole movie.

Dick Best (Ed Skrein) is about as close to a Main Character as this movie has -- it's very much an ensemble piece.  Still, I think we see more of him than anyone else, and I'm totally cool with that because Best is... aptly named?  He's a spectacular pilot, but also a really intriguing person with some nice layers to him that we slowly peel back as the movie rolls forward.

Dick Best's wife Ann (Mandy Moore) is also awesome.  We don't see tons of her, but she's a strong, direct, loving woman, and she's a great glimpse for us of the Home Front.  The only other thing I know Moore from is Tangled (2010), and that's only her voice, but I found her a pleasing actress who really fit the look of the 1940s.  That's not always easy for modern actors and actresses, but I think they did really well with their casting for this -- especially Moore and Skrein.

Oh my word.  Halsey (Dennis Quaid).  Wow.  What an amazing naval commander!  I love his dedication, his fierceness... he has such great Warrior vibes.  And he was crotchety without being querulous, feisty and yet calm.  I think the only other things I've ever seen Quaid in are Wyatt Earp (1994) and The Long Riders (1980), and he just wasn't memorable in those, but wow.  He's memorable in this. 

I already knew a little bit about the Doolittle Raid, where James Doolittle (Aaron Eckhart) and a bunch of other American pilots bombed Tokyo and then landed in China and had to find their own way out.  I know a little more about it now, thanks to this movie, but it's something I want to read more on.  Soon.

Eckhart is another actor I've seen in a couple things, and I just have never cared for him, but I think he just had to grow into his face, if that makes sense.  Now he's almost got a William Holden vibe going on, and I liked him a ton.

What can I say about Nimitz (Woody Harrelson)?  He's like a white-haired bulldog. and he was just... the right man at the right time in the right place.  Which I did know already, though I admit I have studied the ETO (European Theater of Operations) waaaaaaaaaay more than the PTO (Pacific Theater of Operations) because... the ETO is where Combat! takes place, which means it's where all the fanfic I've written is set, so when I read WWII history books, I tend to focus there.  I mean, I knew who won the battle of Midway, and I knew quite a bit about the bombing of Pearl Harbor, plus a little about Doolittle and Nimitz, but most of what this movie gave me was excitingly new and fresh.

Anyway.  I've never cared much for Woody Harrelson, though I don't mind him in Solo: A Star Wars Story (2018).  But he had a sort of stubborn, patient aplomb here that I really dug.

Awww, Murray.  Awwwwwwwwwwwww.  I love this kid's character arc.  I started out feeling a little annoyed by him, and then I end up just wanted to give him a hundred hugs.  And a warm chocolate-chip cookie.  Possibly also a blankie.

Spoiler alert:  Bruno Guido (Nick Jonas) is amazing.

I really don't know anything about the Jonas Brothers except that they're brothers whose last name is Jonas, they sing, and I guess now one of them acts too.  I didn't know who was playing Bruno my first viewing, I just knew he was a really snarky, spunky character that I grew incredibly fond of in a very short time.

I can't say anymore without actually spoiling stuff, so I... won't.

Dickinson (Luke Kleintank) is sort of that quintessential Good Guy, and he gets one of the best lines in the whole movie, one that makes everyone in the theater crack up. 

Lindsey (Darren Criss) is kind of a bit of an antagonist for a while, always squaring off with Dick Best... but I like him okay by the end.  I like that he adds some interpersonal tension to show that all the Americans weren't just one big, happy family aboard an air craft carrier.

The movie did a really good job of portraying some of the Japanese officers too.  Especially Yamaguchi (Tadanobu Asano).  He has the nicest smile, and I got so fond of him.

I didn't realize it until DKoren mentioned it, but I've totally seen Asano in stuff before!  He played Hogun, one of the Warriors Three, in all three Thor movies!  Once I knew that, when I went to the movie the next time, I could totally see it.

I'm really glad that the filmmakers didn't demonize the individual Japanese military characters.  They do talk about some atrocities committed by the Japanese Army as a whole, but the individuals were just... people.  So much more effective than making them all look like monsters.

Finally, Admiral Yamamoto (Etsushi Toyokawa).  I felt really sorry for him at several different times because of how other Japanese leaders were treating him.  He was smart and cagey and savvy, and mostly he got ignored or disregarded or even disobeyed.  Like, what?  Can you people not see how intelligent this guy is?

So.  I think the only thing I haven't said yet about this movie is how thrilling and stupendous the battle scenes are.  Especially the parts with the dive-bombers, where you're just plummeting out of the sky.  Like, how could anyone ever be brave enough to fly a plane into all those bullets and all that shrapnel?  Wow.  I came out of this film both times in absolute awe of the real-life people portrayed here and what they faced.

Also, it's a very pretty movie.  It doesn't make everything look bleak or harsh.  But it doesn't sugar-coat war either.  Amazing film.  I want to see it again, though I'm afraid i might have to wait for DVD cuz my life is getting very busy for a while.


  1. Ooohh, yes!! This looks GOOD! (And so many familiar faces!!) I'll definitely keep an eye out - it looks like Australia won't be getting it until the end of January. >.<

    1. Gabby, I hope you get to see it when it finally get to Australia!!!

  2. Finally watched it Sunday. Took me about ½ the movie before I figured out why Nimitz looked so familiar... Many Woody has gotten old...

    1. Quiggy, oh, that's so funny! I don't generally like Woody H., but I really dug him here. I feel like he's finally not quite so ugly, plus he wasn't playing a creep or a jerk, which is mostly what I've seen him do.

  3. I hadn't even heard of this until you saw and reviewed it, so ... I guess they haven't done a great job of marketing it. :P But you peaked my interest. I may see it on video, since I live an hour and twenty minutes from the nearest theater and can't really justify the trip in December for more than Star Wars and Little Women.

    1. Charity, I KNOW. I have seen zip about this. Not much marketing at all going on, that I know of. I only knew it was coming out because I follow Luke Evans on Instagram.

      I hope you do get to see it on DVD at least! I think you would dig it.

  4. *sighs and wrings hands*

    I am Extremely Conflicted about whether I want to see this or not. Because on the one hand, the history of it definitely interests me? but on the other hand, it's an almost-all-male cast and a war movie, and that tends to be very much NOT MY THING.

    Plus, I need to go see Frozen a second time *GASP* because I just loved it way too much to watch it only once . . .

    Oh, well. I'll figure something out. ;-)

    1. Oh, Katie. You're cracking me up. It's just a movie! Don't beat yourself up about it.

      Your comment about it being an almost all-male cast made me go, "Oh, wait, so it is! NO WONDER I like it so much!" I have to say that a TON of my favorite movies are very male-heavy, and the genres I love, westerns, war, action, and noir, are very male-dominated. So... for me, that's a plus, lol!

      Go see it if you want to. Don't, if you don't.

    2. Well, okay . . . I'll try not to beat myself up about it ;-) I agonize over A LOT OF THINGS, can you tell? :-P

      I think I mostly feel bad because my movie-watching tastes are so very limited, and I feel like I should experiment more, but I don't want to experiment more, because 90% of the time I would rather read a book than watch a movie. I am much more "adventurous" in my reading than my movie watching. For some reason. Weird . . .

      Last night I found something on Pinterest that cracked me up SO HARD; it said "my life consists entirely of people suggesting I should see X movie and me telling them okay I'll add it to the list, but the truth is, there is no list and I won't watch that movie." Me in a nutshell. *giggles*

      You do!!! You really like male-centric stories! And there's nothing wrong with that, of course! I have a much harder time relating to male characters, though, and I tend to lose interest in any story where women don't get at least half of the narrative attention. There are a few notable exceptions (The Chosen, for example), but that's the general pattern.

    3. Katie, that actually makes sense to me, because my son is WAY more adventurous in his reading than his watching too. It's easier to control the images in your head when you're making them yourself. I get that.

      Like, I have never watched the bit in the Hobbit movies with the giant spiders. Ever. I just close my eyes and wait for it to end. But I can read that part in the book okay because my brain censors it for me so they're more like giant ants and I'm not terrified.

      I do like some female-centric things -- romcoms, kid movies, dramas. I love Jane Austen, though to be honest, it's her wry wit as much as her characters that draws me in.

      But yeah... I did a list of my Ten Favorite Movie/TV Characters a few years ago, and it was all male. And I didn't even notice. It never occurred to me that they were all guys. They're who I love, who I want to protect, hang out with, fight side-by-side with, be protected by.

      I ought to do a list of my ten favorite onscreen women. That would be neat. Perhaps I shall...

  5. I dunno. I thought this one was awfully flat-footed.

  6. I just wanted to share that I came across this brilliant review along with your earlier one shortly before going to see Midway in cinemas for the first time, and to thank you for writing them, as they got me even more pumped to watch it then I already was, and perfectly capture everything I felt while watching it too!

    The list of WWII films I adore is pretty decent-sized, but this one sky-rocketed straight to the top in record time. My love for it just keeps growing every time I watch it, as does my awe for the gorgeous little details and facial expressions the actors imbue their performances with, and I could not agree more with every comment about them you've made.

    I also wanted to quickly mention another aspect I LOVE is the decision to cast Patrick Wilson & Dennis Quaid, as not only are they fantastic in their roles (Layton's my favourite as well!), but they also starred in The Alamo (2004) together (which I very much love and would recommend watching!)

    1. Kristy, thanks for stopping by and letting me know you enjoyed my review! More than once, even!

      Like you, I love many WWII films, and this one belongs with the top films. It fills me with awe at the bravery that ordinary human beings can possess. Like you say, the details are breathtaking. Every time I rewatch it, I feel like I learn something new.

      I actually found a copy of the 2004 Alamo, so I hope to watch it before long! Mostly for Patrick Wilson, I must admit... but I'm sure I'll enjoy Dennis Quaid in it more now than I would have before I'd seen Midway and learned to like him in it. Thanks for the recommendation!


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