Review: Midway

Good day all. A new movie that has been hyped a bit was released and I have seen it. The movie is Midway and is about the World War 2 battle of Midway Island.

For those of you who can’t be bothered to learn history, the Battle of Midway occurred in June 1942 and was the point where the Imperial Japanese when from the offense to the defense and eventual defeat. If we has either missed the fact the Japanese were interested in Midway, or worse, lost the three carriers we sent there, (And Midway), we may not have lost the war, but it either would have gone on for a lot longer or we may have negotiated a truce.

The short version of the battle, we managed to break enough of the Japanese military codes to know they were going to attack somewhere, but we weren’t sure where. The indications said Midway Island, but we had no firm proof. The code breakers came up with an idea, and had the Midway garrison send a message in the clear, (Not in code), that said their fresh water system was down. The Japanese bit and reported that “AF was short of fresh water.” (AF was the Japanese code name for Midway)

At this point we had two undamaged carriers available. The USS Yorktown had taken a bomb hit during the Battle of the Coral Sea and was damaged. When the ship returned to Pearl Harbor for what were meant to be temporary repairs, with permanent repairs expected to take months in the United States, the Navy and civilian repair crews turned her around in 72 hours and she left Pearl Harbor a day after the Hornet and Enterprise. (NOT NCC-1701 or NX-01, but CV-6)

The Japanese were caught by surprise, and were not ready to engage the American carrier fleet. (Their planes were configured for land bombing, not anti-ship) In a series of uncoordinated attacks, American torpedo planes, aircraft from Midway and dive bombers from the American fleet attacked the Japanese fleet. The land based bombers and torpedo planes either missed the targets or were shot down. The carrier torpedo planes were all but wiped out, with only one survivor of the attack by Torpedo 8, Ensign George Gay.

Because the Japanese were concentrating on the torpedo planes, their fighters had come off station and weren’t prepared to defend against the Navy SBD Dauntless dive bombers. The Japanese were caught flat footed, and three of the 4 carriers were hit and set on fire. The 4th, Hiryu, was missed, and that costs us later. (Planes from Hiryu found the Yorktown and hit her. Eventually, Yorktown was sunk by a Japanese submarine) Hiryu was found later, heavily damaged and scuttled by the Japanese.

Now the movie covers a lot of what actually happened and revolves around slightly fictionalized people who actually fought in the battle, However, other then some editorial license to keep people interested, the movie makers followed the accounts of what happened.

Where it really took off, (No pun intended), was the CGI. We saw the first heavy use of CGI in the movie Pearl Harbor. In Pearl Harbor, the film makers mixed a few real WW Two aircraft with Computer Generated Images of Zeros, Kates, Vals and P-40’s. However, they had these planes doing things that didn’t happen in the real attack and frankly, are not aerodynamically possible.

In the first movie version of Midway, (Starring Charlton Heston, they didn’t have CGI, and they used what few real planes they had along with a lot of mock ups. They also used footage from World War Two, however a lot of it was of American planes or the wrong Japanese planes. In this version, someone did a lot of research. We had Douglas SBD Dauntless dive bombers, Douglas TBD Devastator torpedo plans, Grumman Wildcats and of course Japanese Zeros, Kates, and Vals. They also threw in a couple of float planes of the correct types.

However, the makers of the film fell into some of the same traps that befell the movie Pearl Harbor. It wasn’t so much having the planes do things they couldn’t actually do, (Although there were a few instances of that), it was doing things that didn’t actually happen. One was the attack on the carrier Hiryu by Richard Best. In the movie, he is diving through antiaircraft fire so intense all you can see are flashes and smoke. While the fire was heavy in real life, it wasn’t that thick. Also, in the movie, Lieutenant Best, (Navy Rank. Captain in the Army), nearly crashed into the Hiryu. In reality, he released his bomb at altitude and pulled out. A dramatic scene, but not real.

One of the things I liked about this movie was it’s basic historical accuracy. There is a scene where we see the Hollywood film director, John Ford, instead of taking cover, continued filming the attack on Midway. This actually happened, and he was wounded during the attack.

All in all, I enjoyed this film, and I do recommend it. It’s reasonably accurate in what happened. The CGI, as I mentioned is generally first rate, especially with regards to the TBD Devastator torpedo planes. There are none left in the world sadly, and I think the producers managed to show just how obsolete they were and just how brave the crews were to fly those things into the teeth of the Japanese fleet. The film is intense, and children won’t understand it. Teenagers should see it and be pointed to various history books on the Battle of Midway and WW II.


1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (2 votes, average: 5.00 out of 5)

~The Angry Webmaster~

Share Button