Midway (AU - M/UK - 12A/US - PG-13)

In a Word: Lavish

Midway

Dennis Quaid stars as Admiral William "Bull" Halsey in 'Midway'.

There's been a trend in war films of late to focus on the individual stories of those involved - 1917 is the most obvious recent example - and only present glimpses of the big picture of what's going on.

Midway, directed by Roland Emmerich (he of Godzilla and Independence Day fame), eshews that approach and instead opts for an old-school spectacle approach reminscent of war films of Hollywood past (perhaps no surprise - remember the 1976 film of the same name starring the likes of Charlton Heston, Henry Fonda and James Coburn?).

"A big screen blockbuster that doesn't go in for nuance, Midway is nonetheless an interesting depiction of how the battle came about and, despite its relative lack of personal drama, a reminder of the costs of war for all. Above all, it's a  salute to the bravery of all those men who took part."

The focus is, of course, on the Battle of Midway, the naval battle fought almost entirely with aircraft that took place in the mid-Pacific between American and Japanese forces in June, 1942. But the action in this film starts four days before the 7th December, 1941, bombing of Pearl Harbour - the action which leads to US entry into World War II - and it's more than halfway through the film before the Battle of Midway is commenced as we're given a relatively detailed look at events leading up to it.

The film's broad focus means it's a big ensemble cast with some familiar faces - and some not so much - playing key roles. The former include Wood Harrelson playing Pacific Fleet commander Admiral Chester W Nimitz, Dennis Quaid playing Vice Admiral William "Bull" Halsey and Aaron Eckhart playing Lt Col James "Jimmy" Doolittle (leader of the first aid raid in Japan by US forces in the war) while the lesser known faces include Patrick Wilson playing intelligence officer, Lt Com Edwin T Layton, Ed Skrein playing squadron commander Dick Best, and Luke Evans playing Lt Comm Wade McClusky. On the Japanese side - of which we're shown only glimpses - Etsushi Toyokawa plays Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto and Tadaanobu Asano plays Rear Admiral Tamon Yamaguchi.

There's only time to glimpse into the lives of the main players with the action setting a cracking pace and CGI technology is used to full effect in recreating battle scenes. Acting performances are solid, but there's little scope for development beyond that.

This is as straight-forward an action-driven war film as you can get, so don't expect any soliloquies on the brutal nature of war or lingering shots of the horrors of the battle front. A big screen blockbuster that doesn't go in for nuance, Midway is nonetheless an interesting depiction of how the battle came about and, despite its relative lack of personal drama, a reminder of the costs of war for all. Above all, it's a  salute to the bravery of all those men who took part.