Midway

 (8,522)
6.72 h 12 min1976X-Ray16+
Story of a battle considered a turning point of World War II
Directors
Jack Smight
Starring
Charlton HestonHenry FondaJames Coburn
Genres
ActionDrama
Subtitles
English [CC]
Audio languages
EnglishEnglish [Audio Description]
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Producers
Walter Mirisch
Studio
Universal
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Format
Prime Video (streaming online video)
Devices
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Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars

8522 global ratings

  1. 82% of reviews have 5 stars
  2. 12% of reviews have 4 stars
  3. 4% of reviews have 3 stars
  4. 1% of reviews have 2 stars
  5. 2% of reviews have 1 stars
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Top reviews from the United States

CinemaPeteReviewed in the United States on May 11, 2018
4.0 out of 5 stars
Old Warhorse Worth Seeing
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I saw this movie when it first came out in 1976 - guess that's dating me. It's got a cast of some of the most famous actors in Hollywood. It uses some footage that's in the public domain - I guess this kept production costs down and added some realism and authenticity to the movie. There are not too many movie productions of the 1942 Battle of Midway during World War II and this is an interesting and entertaining, if somewhat laid-back, presentation. This was also a notable movie at the time it came out because of its use of what was called Sensurround sound - an early form of surround sound, used in a few other famous movies of the day (Earthquake for example), which was much later supplanted by today's Dolby ATMOS starting in 2012. I recall that the theaters where this movie was shown utilized special banks of Cerwin-Vega woofers to recreate the thundering sound of the battleships big guns firing. The theaters that had this setup had to be structurally reinforced to prevent damage. I recall hearing and feeling the entire theater shaking when those guns would fire. It certainly was not exactly the real thing but it did add sonic impact to the movie. The plot of the film is pretty much well known so I won't go into it. If you want to see a decent depiction of the Battle of Midway this is a good movie to watch. And, if you have a really good sound system with sub-woofer(s) that can go low and loud you'll be rewarded with the same stunning thunder effects just like in the theater when I saw it, back in 1976.
80 people found this helpful
BlakeReviewed in the United States on November 18, 2019
5.0 out of 5 stars
This is the only REAL Midway movie. 2019 Midway never happened in my mind.
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I've never felt the urge to review this movie because it's older than me and I think it should be common knowledge what a great movie this is. While it isn't flawless and wastes a lot of time with character personal drama and "oh jeez, your girl is dating a jap" racial politics that probably mattered back in the 1940s - it just takes time and interest away from the overall plot of Midway.

That said, this movie is amazing as a movie about the events of Midway - why do I bother writing this review though? Because the 2019 version recently hit theaters and holy mother of all things, it is the worst movie I've seen based on WW2 in a long long long time. If you wanted Pearl Harbor 2 , that's what you're getting with the 2019 version of Midway.

If you want a terrible movie with the worst choice of actors being the lead (Ed Skrien) doing an absolutely TERRIBLE job of trying to be a 1940's badass while the movie tries to span from before Pearl Harbor, Pearl Harbor Attack, Doolittle's Raid, Coral Sea, and then finally a bit of Midway while just loading it up with cliches, CGI at every turn, and absurdly unrealistic flying, then that's the movie for you!

If you want a more grounded representation of Midway with some real combat footage tied in, get this.
42 people found this helpful
Mike PowersReviewed in the United States on February 4, 2017
4.0 out of 5 stars
"Midway" an entertaining, informative, and flawed film depiction of the Battle of Midway.
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“Midway” is a war film from 1976 that seeks to recreate the World War II Battle of Midway, one of the most famous and decisive naval battles in history. “Midway’s” stars include Charlton Heston, Henry Fonda, Hal Holbrook, Toshiro Mifune, James Shigeta, Glenn Ford, and a host of other now-famous character actors at the start of their careers.

“Midway” is a movie that I found easy to like and dislike in about equal measure. It is a reasonably accurate historical recreation of the battle of Midway. The film correctly depicts the over-confidence, arrogance, and carelessness that went into the Japanese planning for the attack. (Six months of uninterrupted victory in the Pacific was responsible for this hubris.) At the same time, the U.S. Navy, although outmatched by the Japanese in nearly every respect, had the key advantages of knowing beforehand the entire Japanese plan, and of surprise.

Most of the first half of “Midway” depicts the planning and preparation for battle. Henry Fonda is excellent as the soft-spoken, intellectual, and decisive Admiral Chester Nimitz, who is ably assisted by intelligence officer Joe Rochefort (Hal Holbrook) and Air Operations officer Captain Matt Garth (a fictional character played by Heston.) On the Japanese side, Admirals Isoroku Yamamoto (Mifune), Chuichi Nagumo, and their respective staffs are portrayed as far less competent and decisive as their opponents are.

The battle scenes are decent representations of what happened at Midway, especially considering that special effects were far less sophisticated than they are in the 21st century. Director Jack Smight used a good deal of actual war footage (colorized) to enhance the realism of the battle scenes. However, viewers can’t help but notice that many scenes include models and mock-ups of actual ships – especially when aircraft carriers begin blowing up.

“Midway” has one major flaw that I think seriously detracts from its production values. That flaw is the silly little soap opera that deals with Captain Garth’s son, Tom, and his tribulations with his Japanese-American fiancée. The American government has sent this young woman and her parents to a detention camp, and a surly, sulking Tom wants his father to get her released. Now, I understand the producers’ desire to make a political statement about the injustice of imprisoning Japanese-Americans during the war, but these scenes are completely out of place in “Midway” and add little of value to the film.. They should have ended up on the cutting room floor.

Despite my gripe, I think “Midway” is certainly an informative and entertaining film that’s worth watching… more than once. Recommended.
87 people found this helpful
Mike KuhlmanReviewed in the United States on October 31, 2012
4.0 out of 5 stars
The Long Version of Midway is the TV VERSION!
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Some reviewers fail to realize this. The version of Midway that is out on DVD and blu-ray IS the theatrical cut.

The added sequences, of the Coral Sea campaign and Charlton Heston trying to woo his girlfriend in between helping his son Tom and his participating in the pursuit of the Japanese carriers, were in the TV version, the version that re-enlisted the talents of director Jack Smight and the actors, plus some additions, like Mitchell Ryan as one of the commanders at Coral Sea. This is the version that was released some years after Midway's theatrical release in 1976. Because TV, prior to HDTV, was a 4x3 aspect ratio, the scenes shot for TV were also shot in 4x3, and the 1976 theatrical release of Midway was shot in 2.35:1 widescreen Panavision. There would have to be some substantial visual re-formatting (top-to-bottom cropping) of the TV scenes to re-format them and insert them into the 2.35:1 theatrical version, resulting in serious picture quality degradation and majorly increased grain in the TV scenes. That, to my mind, is the reason a "definitive" long cut, in widescreen, hasn't been released. Maybe, with today's digital film restoration technology, there is some way to restore some clarity to the 4x3 scenes, once cropped, for insertion into the 2.35:1 theatrical version scenes, to restore a "super" long cut of Midway for a future blu-ray release.

To the "no surround???" question: Sensurround, the pre-Dolby Stereo process that made you feel, as closely as possible, "you are there" was a MONO process, that merely added a deep bass (.1) track to the monaural signal. The deep bass of Sensurround is in fact here, evidenced right away in the opening credits Tokyo bombing.

While Universal did create a pseudo-stereo/surround for the DVD release of their earlier produced-in-Sensurround spectacle, Earthquake, apparently, they skimped here. I for one would certainly pay for an expanded STEREO SURROUND Sensurround release of Midway!

That said, this is an excellent movie. I could've done without the subplot involving Charlton Heston's character's son Tom falling in love with a Japanese girl and her being accused of subversion by the FBI. It's obviously an attempt by producer Walter Mirisch and his writers to transform Midway into a "chick flick" as well as a "dude flick", entice all the ladies to come see it, to boost box office receipts and recoup his investment, which, considering the list of high-caliber male stars, was substantial. This subplot also makes things more personal when Tom is badly burned in his cockpit in aerial combat and crashes on the aircraft carrier with his dad Heston right there, which is good. But this subplot has the bad side-effect of slowing things down a bit in the first act, comes off a bit like a soap-opera, and I find myself hitting the fast-forward button to skip right over this material to get right to the battle strategies and combat scenes, to make Midway tighter and more of a straight-line adventure.

Highly recommended for history buffs and action afficionados alike. The "chess game", played by the commanders on both the Japanese and American sides, is fascinating. The film also accurately illuminates the role that chance and luck played. Who knows how the battle would have went if the Japanese plane's radio operator's radio had actually been working so he could send a message to the Japanese fleet and tell the commanders how many U.S. ships were actually there? Who knows how the battle would have gone if the Japanese had clearer weather on the way to Midway Island? And Hal Holbrook's character, Commander Roachford in Intelligence, confirming that Objective AF is Midway Island by having Midway's radio operator transmit a fake message that Midway's fresh water condensor has broken down, is a stroke of genius!
151 people found this helpful
Bob CampbellReviewed in the United States on November 17, 2019
3.0 out of 5 stars
Middling Midway
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I remember seeing this when it first came out and absolutely hating it. I had hoped for a Tora Tora Tora treatment of the battle and got instead an entirely fictitious main character in Heston's Matt Garth and a entirely tiresome romantic and political subplot with Garth's fictional son and his Japanese girlfriend. Maybe I've mellowed, but these things no longer irk me as they once did. Mind you, I would give it at least 4 stars if they had gone the T3 route and stuck with history and all historical characters.
On the plus side, they do broadly get the history right - while, of course taking a few liberties to punch things up - and it is well cast and acted by a host of fading A list stars and even more B listers. In a way, the casting was unfortunate because they clearly spent most of their budget on the stars - leaving little money for the stunts and action scenes. Most of the battles scenes are either authentic WWII footage that feature the wrong planes for that period of the war or footage from T3. On the other hand, that may have been the best that they could do - CGI was nonexistent then and I doubt there were any surviving, flyable examples of some of the planes then.
If you can overlook (or fast forward through) the Garth plotline (the romance/politics) it's not bad.
8 people found this helpful
Devin L. CutlerReviewed in the United States on January 8, 2020
4.0 out of 5 stars
Much more accurate than the horrible 2019 film
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I saw this in the theatres in 1976. Yes, the love story plot between the Captain's son and the Japanese woman is hackneyed and not well written and Charlton Heston really chews the scenery in this film. But the actual details and proceedings of the battle are extremely accurate and well done and the Japanese side is presented extensively and fairly.

The 2019 film is extremely lacking compared to the 1976 version. The modern film has little or no reference to the significance of aerial reconnaissance by both sides to the battle. The 1976 version makes you realize that, but for a broken catapult on the Battleship Tone and a Japanese radio malfunction, the battle could have turned out so differently.

Also, the modern film has the rear machine gunners on the SBDs and TBDs shooting Japanese Zeroes out of the sky willy nilly. No. Just...no! Those read guns are all but useless against Zeroes, as the 1976 version displays oh so well.

In short, while the 2019 version has better special effects (hell, the 1976 version reuses old footage from the Tora Tora Tora film...if you watch the bombing of Midway you can see ship masts in the background!), the 1976 film gives one a much better sense of what actually happened.
8 people found this helpful
Jeff RyanReviewed in the United States on November 6, 2020
5.0 out of 5 stars
Action film of the events before and during the Battle of Midway in June, 1942
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MIDWAY is a well-produced and -directed feature film about the crucial Battle of Midway in the
Central Pacific during the Second World War. It shows some of the critical events leading up to the
engagement from both the Japanese and the American viewpoints, as well as the battle itself. I first saw this film in 1976 in a movie theater and I think it holds up pretty well after 44 years.
Henry Fonda plays USN Admiral Nimitz, the senior American commander in that region of the Pacific. James
Shigeta gives a fine performance as the aging Japanese Admiral Nagumo, who commanded the aircraft carrier
strike force of the Imperial Japanese Navy. Toshiro Mifune has a mostly supporting role as Admiral
Yamamoto, the Japanese Navy's supreme commander and operational genius.
Interesting performances: Hal Holbrook does a fine job as the US Navy's chief code-breaker,
Lt. Commander Rochefort, a naval officer who was thought to be eccentric by many of his contemporaries.
Charlton Heston is a fictional Navy captain and aviator whose role ties in many of the personnel on the
American side. Look for an early Tom Selleck performance as one of the US Marine garrison members on
Midway Atoll, as well as Erik Estrada as a naval aviator in the battle. MIDWAY is an exciting and mostly accurate
movie about one of the key air-sea battles of WW 2, one that was a turning point early in the war.
2 people found this helpful
Jeffrey YoungReviewed in the United States on January 26, 2021
3.0 out of 5 stars
A Good Movie that Should Be Better
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SPOILERS:
I would prefer to give MIDWAY (1976) 3.5 stars but don't know how to click a half-star. MIDWAY (1976) was a successful movie in its time and still is but shows its age. Inevitable comparisons will be made with the MIDWAY (2019). Yet in some ways both are not only different movies, they seem to complement each other, one movie depicting more that the other showed less of.
For example, MIDWAY '76's Admiral Nimitz is more a perfunctory supporting character compared to the more developed and evocative depiction in MIDWAY 2019.
In my opinion for a viewer interested in the historical and pivotal Battle of Midway, watch BOTH movies and you will come away with much more than if you just watched one instead of the other.
For my money, MIDWAY '76 could have been far better a movie had the director taken more attention to detail and less interested with irrelevant side stories.
a) The side story of Captain Matt's irresponsible, besotted and immature young son, an aviator ensign flying a F4F-3 Wildcat fighter plane, did not belong in the movie. More it was cringing to watch the young man's besotted, foolish, and disrespectful behavior. Hollywood always shows an obsessive need to insert a love story no matter what the movie plotline or storyline. There was a surprise twist that the young ensign had fallen head over heels in love with a pretty, young, second-generation Japanese American. Late in the movie the son gains wisdom and a clearer head but only at the cost of tragedy.
b) The theatrical version of MIDWAY shows some limited screen time of Captain Matt romancing an attractive blonde woman close to his age. Matt is a divorcee. The woman seems to be good for him. The director kept these scenes wisely limited. But for the television version which needed to be stretched out, additional time was filmed of the romance between Captain Matt and his girlfriend. If you watched the television version, the scenes of Matt's romance with the woman seem too long and out of place in the movie.
c) This is the worse offense. In my opinion I deem this sloppy director's work. MIDWAY makes extensive use of stock footage of WW2 US Naval combat aircraft; too much in my view so that it is distracting and dishonest. The time period is June 1942. During the air battle scenes, stock footage cuts in but it shows F6F-3 Hellcat fighters and SBC-3 Helldivers, both types having entered service in late 1943. This was dismaying to watch such lazy film-making. The director even borrowed scenes of inside the Japanese carriers from the Japanese 1960 movie, "Storm Over The Pacific", originally titled in Japan, "I Bombed Pearl Harbor". At least those borrowed scenes looked relevant and interesting.
Even Japanese WW2 films used model aircraft for air combat scenes rather than splice inaccurate scenes. Even though you can tell those are model scale prop planes, at least they're fun to watch and accurately detailed.

All of the above greatly detracted from what could have been in my opinion a worthy, five-star movie. But I need to be accurate and honest. I cannot overlook those discrepancies, poor story-telling, and historical inaccuracies due to lazy directing and cutting corners on production costs.
Still, I recommend MIDWAY be watched because it still is a good, entertaining movie to watch.

I can like MIDWAY's different depiction of the Japanese battle fleet's Kido Butai (carrier division assault task force) admiral-in-charge, the historically discredited Admiral Chikui Nagumo. MIDWAY 2019 portrays Nagumo I think, more historically accurate, a man blundering his way into a trap, his reasoning already compromised by pre-conceptions and under-estimations of the American enemy.
MIDWAY '76 presents a less accurate but more intriguing depiction of Admiral Nagumo. In this '76 movie, the Admiral Nagumo is a man from the very start beset by disturbing and disconcerting gut feeling and intuition that all is not what it seems and that the Americans are up to something and will not be so easy to confront this time. Unfortunately for this Nagumo, he is unable to verify his misgivings during the operation due to bad luck, as it turns out. The historically accurate Japanese long-range reconnaissance to French Frigate Shoals for refueling then on to reconnoiter Pearl Harbor has to be canceled when an American destroyer is detected prowling about the French Frigate Shoals. Then the worst bad luck comes when the last Japanese scout plane is delayed taking off for thirty minutes due to engine repairs. It is this same scout plane that detects the American surface fleet near Midway when all earlier scout planes detect nothing. But the loss of thirty minutes will prove fatal to Nagumo and his four carriers.
Few people knew that Yamamoto and Nagumo incurred bad luck even before the Midway (M.I.) operation got started. The Battle of the Coral Sea cost the Japanese one carrier and the temporary loss of a fleet carrier, Shokaku, which had to remain in Japan for repairs. As a result, the Kido Butai carrier task force approached Midway with only four fleet carriers instead of the planned six carriers. Subsequently the Japanese and Americans were at near parity, 4 Japanese carriers versus 3 American carriers and the aircraft from Midway Island, essentially an unsinkable island carrier. The extra two Japanese carriers could have retaliated against the American carriers, possibly costing Admiral Nimitz more than just the Yorktown. The remaining two American carriers could have been attacked and hit, causing severe damage if not outright sinking. The Japanese would have been free to continue the Midway operation, despite the severe loss of four, fleet carriers if there were the two remaining carriers plus the addition of the two, light carriers back with Admiral Yamamoto's main battle fleet.

The U.S. Navy was still inexperienced and largely untested in 1942. But it had brave men and even braver and competent, aggressive admirals who would learn from Coral Sea and Midway to build the U.S. Navy into the world's foremost and most formidable navy ever seen in history two years later in June 1944 at the decisive victory of the Battle of the Philippine Sea, known as, The Great Marianas Turkey Shoot. That battle spelled the end of Japan's imperial naval carrier force. The following classic, immemorable Battle Of Leyte Gulf in December 1944 finally finished off the Japanese Imperial Navy once and for all. The Japanese Navy, reduced to a shadow of its former self, ended up dispatching the great battleship, Yamato, on a one-way suicided mission to Okinawa in the Ryukyu Island chain in April 1945. Yamato didn't even make it halfway to Okinawa before swarms of American carrier Hellcats, Avenger torpedo planes, and Helldiver dive bombers sent the proud battleship to the bottom of the South China Sea.

By 1945 the carrier and the submarine had replaced the battleship and heavy cruiser as the prime instruments of modern naval warfare. As one naval historian pointed out, by 1945 the battleship had been reduced to the status of a large, anti-aircraft platform.
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