Tag: Pearl Harbor

Midway (2019)

The overview …

Monday night I went to see Midway at The Carolina Cinemark Asheville theater. I was slightly hesitant to do so since I have always enjoyed the 1976 Midway film staring Charleton Heston. However, it turned out to not be a problem for me. The movies are different enough that I enjoyed them both.

Like its predecessor, this new version of the centers on the historic Battle of Midway fought during World War II. This clash between the badly-mauled American fleet, which had just suffered horrific losses during the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, and the Imperial Japanese Navy marked a pivotal turning point in the Pacific Theater during WWII.

midway 2019

This film is based on the real-life events of this heroic American defeat of the Japanese fleet and Admiral Yamamoto’s grand plan to quickly destroy the U.S. Navy in the Pacific. The story tells the tale of the leaders sailors, and pilots who relied on their instincts, intestinal fortitude, bravery (and a good deal of luck) to overcome incredible odds and a Navy force that had them greatly outnumbered and was better equipped.

The Japanese attack on Midway involved four aircraft carriers, seven battleships, 150 support ships, 248 carrier aircraft and 15 submarines.

The U.S. Navy, meanwhile, was down to just three aircraft carriers, 50 support ships, 233 carrier aircraft, 127 land-based aircraft on Midway, and eight submarines after the Pearl Harbor attack.

The Critics

The Bad …

Many critics seem do dislike the film. I don’t know if it is because they really thought the film was that bad, or if it was because “belittling” American history has become popular with the elite crowd. Here are a few examples:

It’s hard to imagine, if you’ve already seen a film like Pearl Harbor, why you would need to see Midway.

Amy Nicholson, FilmWeek

The digitized combat looks like something traced and transplanted from another war, one that took place in a galaxy far, far away.

Scott Marks, San Diego Reader

It has the tone, mostly, of kids’ TV. Or a poor, very poor, supplementary video for a history.

Kevin Maher, TImes (UK)

The good …

The great appeal of the film are the aerial battles, strengthened by excellent digital effects.

Marcelo Stiletano, La Nacion (Argentina)

“Midway” tells a story that’s vividly and viscerally rendered, with all the entertainment value of a big, old-fashioned war movie, cutting back and forth between the home front and front line.

Micheal O’Sullivan, Washington Post

“Midway” is a rollicking war film. History buffs need not apply.

Adam Graham, Detroit News

My thoughts …

I enjoyed the movie. For me, it was a lot like 1965 movie, The Battle of the Bulge with Henry Fonda, which was also short on historical accuracy and plot, but long on entertainment value.

Despite its obvious drawbacks, Midway is a rip-roaring military saga and a testament to the men who fought and won this battle. The Americas are portrayed as being brave and heroic during the movie, and so are the Japanese. Both sides are depicted as fighting for a cause they believed in.

I also thought the mixture of real-life and CGI did a great job in the battle scenes. If anyone has seen tracers fired, especially at night, it can indeed look a bit like a scene out of a Star Wars movie.

I thought the end of the movie was also very well done. You are shown real photos of the real heroes of the battle, along with biographies of them and any citations they received. I was struck with the idea that some of the actors were chosen because they strongly resembled the actual characters they portrayed. Woody Harrelson, in his white hair, looked a great deal like Admiral Chester W. Nimitz. I thought Dennis Quaid also looked a lot like Admiral “Bull” Halsey.

This film really stirred the patriotic blood in me. And, not just for America’s victory at Battle of Midway, but for the sacrifices all our brave fighting men and women have made for our country throughout its history. Maybe that is why some of the critics didn’t care for it.


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The World War II Heroics of a Very Special Ship

Luck Lady: A very special ship

special shipWhat makes the USS Santa Fe such a special ship? On March 19, 1945, a Japanese bomber dropped two 500-pound bombs through the deck of the USS Franklin, killing hundreds of officers and enlisted men, and thrusting the lives of nearly 3,000 other American seamen and aviators into mortal danger. As the Franklin listed dangerously near capsizing, the light cruiser USS Santa Fe, nicknamed the Lucky Lady, bellied up alongside her flaming hull and attempted the most daring rescue in U.S. naval history.

Lucky Lady tells the tale of  the legendary World War II careers of the USS Franklin (the most decorated naval vessel of the war) and the Santa Fe (unparalleled record of wartime service while avoiding casualties) through the eyes of the men on board. This tale is told from the perspective of the highest levels of rank and flying altitude to deep within the ships engine room. Through the bloody years of the Pacific War (from Pearl Harbor to the surrender of Japan) the crew members of these ships experienced first-hand all the horrors of war.

Close to home

A friend of mine, whose father served on the USS Santa Fe, loaned me this book. And I must say, I greatly enjoyed the read.

Sailors believed the Santa Fe to be an unlucky ship.  Christened with a bottle of water rather than Champagne, such as is the usual case. The bottle of water came from the Santa Fe River … blessed by a Catholic priest. This, of course, caused a good deal of muttering among superstitious sailors. But as it turned out, the Santa Fe led a charmed life. This ship and crew’s heroic efforts to rescue the sailors of the USS Franklin is the stuff of legends.

This is first and foremost a history, It goes into great character detail and development. You get to know the officers and the sailors assigned to this ship. From the Aleutians to Pearl Harbor and the war in the Pacific, this book tells their tale. It’s pages are full of WW II Naval action. However, if you are strictly an action junkie, it might be a bit of a slow read. On the other hand, if you love history, well-developed characters, and detailed, historic accuracy … this is a book for you. I highly recommend this book and give it a 4 out of 5 stars.