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This movie was a passion project for director Roland Emmerich, and was apparently a long time coming for him. And honestly, its a good story to tell; there were many cogs and people who made this historic event happen, all of whom have a tale to tell. Does this movie achieve that goal? Well, it certainly makes a really strong effort, but I think it might've bit off a little more than it could chew. I won't bother with "spoilers" considering that this is based off of history.
This movie seeks to tell the whole story of the Battle of Midway, and starts off with the attack on Pearl Harbor. After that, it seeks to depict the whole sequence of events that lead to the battle, and the American victory. I understand what the movie is trying to do, its trying to tell the story of the the battle and of the people behind it. To that end it treats its subject with a certain degree of weight and dignity, and doesn't try and there wasn't (at least for me) too much Narm, which already places it a cut above Pearl Harbor (of course that doesn't mean there wasn't any Narm, and when it does appear, it sticks out like a sore thumb).
Unfortunately, for all its ambition, it ends up trying so hard, it loses. So much happens that it starts feeling more like a historic documentary, going from one event to he next. The acting, while not terrible, is fairly generic, and didn't leave much of an impression. The inclusion of the Doolittle Raid, while also interesting to see, proves surprisingly irrelevant to the story proper; you could've cut it, and probably not lost a thing. The writing also isn't that great, with some of that clunky exposition to inform the audience of things they likely don't know, but need to. To be fair, that's probably a fair assumption, and I don't know what I would've done, but there must've been a way to do it more naturally.
But there is some good too. The action in this movie is top notch, and while there is some shaky cam, the film does know how to keep the action focused, and I didn't have much trouble telling what was happening; there is some shaky cam, and while that never bothered me as much as it bothered others, I can't speak for anyone else. In addition, you can tell that unlike the aforementioned Bay film, a real effort was done to make the film historically accurate; there is some artistic license, but never to the point that the central events get sidelined. Also, I give it credit for taking the extra steps to portray the Japanese with respect; in fact, the film is dedicated to both the American and Japanese servicemen. There are some war crime scenes, but while I may hate to say it, those sorts of events did happen in real life.
In all, while I hesitate to give this movie a strong recommend, I can't say I regretted watching it, and it was definitely better than I thought it would be. The theater I was in applauded when the credits rolled, so I guess there were plenty who enjoyed it. If you're looking for a decent weekend movie, maybe give this one a try.
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