Midway is a star-studded account of the famous WWII battle. In the opening crawl we’re told that “whenever possible”, we’ll be seeing “actual film shot during combat”. I guess by incorporating lots of stock footage, the filmmakers were trying to sucker their audience into thinking that they were getting an authentic looking movie. More than likely, using old newsreel footage was a lot cheaper than creating new special effects. The use of real footage from WWII is somewhat justified in a way, but how come the film is also filled with footage from other WWII movies such as Tora! Tora! Tora!, Away All Boats, and
I know I probably should give some sort of plot summary for this flick, but it’s kinda difficult. Here it goes: A bunch of movie stars in Naval uniforms stand around on boats and react to stock footage. There, that about sums it up.
Seeing such A List talent such as Charlton Heston, Henry Fonda, James Coburn, Hal Holbrook (who always wears a robe like he’s Hugh Hefner or something), Glenn Ford, and Robert Mitchum being mingled in with a lot of blurry looking stock footage that looks like it came from one of those Winds of War documentaries is a little discombobulating to say the least. Also, all the major players get little titles of their character’s names under them when they first appear, so we know who’s who. Seriously though, do I really need to know that Charlton Heston is playing so-and-so? Isn’t it just enough to get a kick out of seeing Big Chuck kicking some Oriental ass?
Most of Midway is turgid and boring and the stock foot... err… action isn’t all that great either. There’s also an especially gratuitous subplot about Heston’s son falling in love with a Japanese girl that bogs the pace down and seems out of step with the rest of the film. I can’t say that I was ever once remotely emotionally invested in what was going on, but the endless parade of familiar faces kept me watching, if only to see who would turn up next. I mean I can’t find it in my heart to give One Star to any movie that has Magnum PI and Ponch fighting against Mr. Miyagi and Sanjuro the Bodyguard.