Dir: Roland Emmerich
Starring Ed Skrein, Luke Evans, Patrick Wilson, Mandy Moore, Woody Harrelson, Dennis Quaid, NIck Jonas, Aaron Eckhart
Ed Skrein is “Dick Best.” Which says a lot about Roland Emmerich’s latest heavily CGI’d, all-out battle epic. This time out the aliens are nowhere to be seen and the events are based on the real-life WWII events of the famous 1942 battle, in which America turned the tide on Japan in a post-Pearl Harbour rebuttal. And it’s certainly impressive visually – even if the characters are as one dimensional as they come.
With a fine cast all but wasted – yes, even the mighty Harrelson (with uncomfortable looking hair) – and yelling “Incoming!!” a lot, Emmerich seems determined to make a very old-fashioned war movie in a very modern age. What he ends up with is little more than a series of set pieces, populated by groups of (mostly) men who chew cud and speak some of the worst dialogue you’ll have heard in years – yes, screenwriter Wes Tooke, we’re pointing all of our fingers at you!
But it’s hard to deny the power of those set pieces, with battles not only recreated, but in such a visceral way as to eventually draw you into the action, the dog fights and the events – when the pilots dive bomb, the audience really goes with them, dodging flame and flak and trying to discern some form of victory.
The movie also attempts to represent the Japanese side of what happened in this pivotal battle on and near the mid-Pacific island of Midway – and, ironically, some of the Japanese characters come across as more fully rounded that their gung-ho American counterparts.
But this is ultimately a film about spectacle, not subtleties. As such, it impresses with its visceral visuals, almost as much as it falls down on storytelling and solid characterisation.