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4.3 out of 5 stars
4.3 out of 5 stars
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 28 March 2012
Although fully aware of its weak spots, I give "Midway" full five stars, because I believe this is one of the best reconstructions of major battles in history of cinema, the others being "Tora, Tora, Tora", "The longest day" and "Waterloo".

I agree with most of the negative comments on the war footage used in this film, with the presence of at least one jet plane from Korea War in one scene being possibly the most damning. Wildcats magically transforming into Hellcats and SBDs turning into Avengers in the blink of an eye are also quite annoying! Many of the fighting sequences could and should have been much better done and the use of some footage from "Tora, Tora, Tora" should have been avoided. However, except if you are really good at recognizing WWII warbirds, those points are finally not so important, as the focus of the film is to show all the major (and sometimes minor) decisions which affected the outcome of this fight and which made Midway such a unique and dramatic battle. And as far as this aspect is concerned, the film is a great success!

It begins already with the enormous error committed by Yamamoto when planning the whole operation; we realize it in the scene in which admiral Hosogaya says "This time the god of battles conceived a monster". This criticism is officially adressed to the junior officer who presents the plan - but in fact it is (by Japanese standards) an extremely direct attack against Yamamoto himself. But with admirals Nagumo and Yamaguchi remaining silent during the discussion, the plan remains unchanged; and for that reason, out of EIGHT carriers available, Nagumo will have only four with him at Midway to fight against three American ships... The absence of "Zuikaku" (kept in Japan), "Zuiho" (affected to escort the transports), "Ryujo" and "Junyo" (both send stupidly after secondary targets) cost the Japanese dearly... The scene continues with Admiral Yamaguchi raising another, even more important objection - what if Japanese carriers are forced to fight in the same time land based planes from Midway and carrier based planes of US Navy? This possibility is not given as much attention as it should - and the result is that this is exactly what will happen!

I will not of course describe here all the twists and turns, but one thing is clear - this film shows almost perfectly how the whole situation evolved and how finally the side which committed less mistakes (and which was also just a tiny little bit more lucky) carried the day. And it also pictures ADMIRABLY the proverbial "fog of war", when both sides are like boxers fighting blindfolded - with the first who manages to locate the enemy obtaining a great advantage...

The second reason why I give to this film five stars, is the casting. It is simply a constellation of great stars of world cinema, and they all do a hell of a job! Let's just enumerate some:

- Henry Fonda, as Admiral Nimitz
- Robert Mitchum, as Admiral Halsey
- Glenn Ford, as Admiral Spruance
- Toshiro Mifune, as Admiral Yamamoto
- Charlton Heston, as Captain Matt Garth (one of the very few fictional characters in the film)

- and then James Coburn, Robert Wagner, Joseph Shigeta (remember him from "Die Hard"?) as Admiral Nagumo, Cliff Robertson, Hal Holbrook and Erik Estrada in lesser roles. And let's not forget Tom Selleck in one of his first appearances on the screen...

I was particularly impressed by Henry Fonda's performance as Nimitz - his olympic calm and dignity and also a deep wisdom permit to understand why this admiral was such a great leader of men. James Shigeta is even better in his role of Admiral Chuichi Nagumo, a man send to fight a battle much tougher than his superiors (and himself) expected and who is under an incredible, regularly increasing pressure...

As for the inaccuracies, most of them are rather imperceptible except for people who really know the details of this battle - like for example the planes from USS "Yorktown" attacking "Kaga", when in the real battle they attacked "Soryu"... But there is also ONE very very big blunder concerning Lieutenant Joichi Tomonaga, Japanese leader in two out of three attacks launched during this battle. Although taking off to the second attack with a damaged plane which couldn't make it back home (and thus knowing that he would die or be captured), Tomonaga absolutely did NOT launch his plane against USS "Yorktown"! Also, he was 30 years old in June 1942, but in this film, he is played by an actor who looks easily like pushing 45...

It is also true, that there was a TV version of this film, which was longer, with the battle of Coral Sea briefly covered and an extra love story added. But frankly, I believe that the cinema version, with the wonderfully filmed Doolittle's Raid as the beginning and with only limited time devoted to private life, is actually better. I regret however that in the film there is no mention of the ultimate fate of USS "Yorktown" (a short conversation of 30 seconds would be enough) and of the final (and in my opinion very stupid) decision made by Admiral Tamon Yamaguchi towards the end of the battle.

Last but not least - in the film it is stressed, that at Midway Americans were outnumbered. Well, that is FALSE! Certainly, the Japanese had four carriers ("Kaga", "Akagi", "Hiryu" and "Soryu") against three for Americans (USS "Enterprise", USS "Hornet", USS "Yorktown") but counting the planes, Americans had the numbers for them: 233 carrier based planes + 127 planes from Midway = 360 planes as opposed to Japanese 248 carrier based planes. In fact, Midway was decided at least partly because in planes Americans OUTNUMBERED the Japanese 3:2.

But, bottom line, weaker points notwithstanding I still consider "Midway" as one of the greatest war films ever made, because of an excellent, very dramatic, very clear and very complete description of all the key moments of this unique and incredible battle. For my personal taste, this is the third best war film ever - only "The longest day" and "Tora, tora, tora" did better. I watched it many times and I never got bored - even for one minute! Enjoy!
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on 24 November 2007
Made by the same studio that gave us Tora Tora Tora, I was really looking forward to this film. Whilst TTT was both historically accurate & excellently acted, this one is exactly the opposite. It is truly,absolutely dreadful !!! The acting is uniformly wooden and the dialogue is cringeworthy. You can tell this movie was made "on the cheap" because EVERY action scene is made up from a combination of old World War II footage and at least 45 minutes of Tora Tora Tora. So-much-so that scenes of Japanese torpedo bombers attacking the American carriers ,supposedly 125 miles off Midway, show the Pearl Harbour dockyard cranes in the background. Using stock footage,certainly saves money but badly detracts from reality. Pilots take off in Wildcats which, randomly, turn into Hellcats during flight and SBD Dauntless dive bombers turn into Helldivers then Avengers then Corsairs (and back) again apparently at random. In a ludicrous finale they even manage to add stock footage of an F9F Panther jet in a deck crash landing scene.I only rated this one star, as I was not allowed to give it less.
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Midway is very much from the last-gasp of big-screen spot-the-star epics, and it shows. On paper it's an impressive cast - Charlton Heston, Henry Fonda, Glenn Ford, Robert Mitchum, James Coburn, Cliff Robertson, Robert Wagner, Toshiro Mifune, James Shigeta - but aside from Heston, Fonda and Hal Holbrook, few of them have much to do: Mitchum only has one scene. Much of the first third of the film is taken up with either gathering intelligence while Heston tries not very hard to get estranged son Edward Albert's Japanese-American wife out of internment (this section was even longer, with a subplot with Heston's wife removed from all but the US TV prints: parts of it can be found in this disc's deleted scenes).

Things don't improve much when battle is finally joined and it becomes clear that aside from the odd scene on the deck of an aircraft carrier, the new footage is mainly men in control rooms or cockpits intercut less than convincingly with stock footage from Tora! Tora! Tora! and real color footage of the battle. Unfortunately, blown up to widescreen they often look jarringly grainy, constantly drawing attention to how much of a cut-and-paste the film is. In many ways, despite the widescreen and Senssurround trappings of its theatrical release, this 1976 film often looks like something you'd have expected to be made during the war or perhaps something that started life as an intended TV miniseries: watchable enough without ever really threatening to become truly memorable.

Despite this, it was still surprisingly commercially successful at the US box-office - but then, unlike Tora! Tora! Tora!, the good guys won this particular battle. The DVD is of the two hour theatrical version, but comes loaded with plenty of additional features - 4 deleted scenes and extended ending, a 38-minute making of documentary, featurettes on John Williams' score and the sound effects, the original ten-minute making of short from 1976, stills montage and trailer.
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on 7 June 2016
I have seen this film before but wanted to own it, very pleased to find Amazon had it in Dvd. The story is good but does seem to go on too long about the storyline of Charlto Heston character's son wanting to marry a Japanese girl. When the film did finally get to the battle of the title, i thoroughly enjoyed it.
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 12 January 2016
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
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on 29 December 2014
Midway between mediocrity and banality. How on earth did the leading star of Ben Hur and the Ten Commandments ever subscribe to such dross ? What should have been the basis of a good movie turned out to be a turkey. Why the romantic sub-plot, a sure recipe for failure at the box-office ? Why pander to a female audience ? Why conjure up a hero son for Heston ? Why raid every necropolis for time-expired has-beens who would have been better suited to wheelchairs ? I sincerely hope that veterans of the Pacific theatre are not judged on the basis of this cinematographic crap, Reviewers were correct to compare this with Tora, Tora, Tora, a far more convincing film.
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on 3 April 2006
a classic war film, a host of stars, and enjoyable film, and a damn sight more historically accurate than anything more modern such as pearl harbour
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on 2 June 2011
'MIdway' is an average war film. It's no where near as good as 'Tora Tora Tora'. It works as a historical account and there's an impressive cast(Fonda, Heston,Coburn etc) and John Williams score.
The films worth watching if you're interested in historical war films of real war battles but not if you prefer your war film to be stylish or artistic. This film is quite flat and seems more dated than many earlier made war films.
If you are collecting war films on DVD then this ones a good one to get in terms of DVD extra's. There's a good 38min making of documentary and more such as deleted scenes.
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This review isn't about the 1975 film called "Midway" in general, but the specific version with the ASIN number of B0000AOWN3. Note it's running time is 126 minutes.

And herein lies the problem. For some reason, there are 6 minutes missing from this film rather than its so-called Collector's Edition counterpart with ASIN B00005N5S3. I haven't watched both to be sure, but I suspect those six minutes include two things which I found inexplicably missing in this version.

First of all, no matter how much I fiddled with my widescreen telly's controls, I couldn't find any captions for all the different squadrons which identify which body of airplanes you're looking at. That omission meant the audience is left in the dark about whether they're looking at a torpedo squadron or bombers or fighters (this is especially helpful when, as other reviewers have noted, the planes themselves aren't the correct kind). Even the spy planes in other versions are labeled Strawberry 5 or Strawberry 6 (US) and Spy Plane 4 from a Japanese carrier.

Second, a crucial scene is missing from the end of the film. (spoiler)

Matt Garth's crash at the end is supposed to be due to an old hand injury, which is heightened with cockpit scenes of his wrestling with the controls in his bad hand. All this is missing from the 126-minute version, so you don't see more than just his crash.

According to Wikipedia, there's yet another version of Midway that was made for t.v. and ran to about 2 hours and 40 minutes. This version includes back-story scenes with Susan Sullivan as Heston's girlfriend (ten minutes of this is included as a bonus feature on this DVD). Unfortunately, this t.v. version isn't available on DVD, though we can hope/pray that Universal could release this for the 70th anniversary in 2012.

All this aside, you can still play an awesome drinking game with any edition. Take a sip of beer or libation of your choice every time anyone says "sir". If you want to make it more interesting, down your drink when you catch a glimpse of Erik Estrada (of CHIPS fame, playing fighter pilot "Chilli Bean") and Tom Selleck (Magnum PI, playing a soldier on Midway Island itself) who had bit parts before they were famous. Be warned: they show up within a few minutes of each other. Another warning: you may not remember the end of the film!
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on 14 June 2015
A terrible FILM... not for the acting, but, the so-called
special effects...

This film was a TV special, that had a cinema release,
with some stupid gimmick, where they used sound to
make it feel like a real war zone... or as I remember it...

OK... the cast is fine. A great cast of actors, all well and
good, but, great actors, don't make a great script, and the
dialogue, is so piss poor, that just functions to push the
story along... if only, this was the only problem with this
pile of poo...

The special effects, are just a load of stock footage, from
other movies, and the real Battle of Midway, filmed in colour
by John Ford, or Howard Hawks, (I forget which one)... The film
also uses a lot of footage from Tora! Tora! Tora! and another
Japanese movie, and I think, even the Battle of Britain! ... Where
as today's films use too much CGI effects, in Midway, they use
too little, that makes it looks like a cheap movie... this film is
rubbish. Don't buy it, but wait until it comes on TV.
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