Midway (4K Blu-ray Review)

Midway is a movie that director Roland Emmerich has been trying to make since the days of Godzilla.  Back then, the powers that be weren’t so keen on seeing a remake of a forgettable 70’s film about a huge battle in World War II.  Coming back to now, and we have the long-imagined film. The question is, was it worth the wait? Check out the fine details all about Midway below.  Click the link at the end to grab yourself a copy. We use those links to keep these reviews coming!


Midway begins rather smartly. We start in Japan in the 30’s.  Edwin Layton (Patrick Wilson) is about to leave Japan for the US and is warned of the possibility of war in the future.  He brushes the idea off and heads for home.  When we head into the 40’s, Layton is stationed at Pearl Harbor and is an intelligence officer for the US Pacific Fleet.  Dick Best (Ed Skrein) is a 40’s era Maverick.  His fearlessness makes him enviable to soldiers who are also terrified to fly with him.  He is a “cowboy” among his more conservative pilot colleagues.

The events leading up to the battle of Midway play equal roles in the lead up to the titular fight.  Pearl Harbor is bombed, lives are lost, and many more characters are introduced.  We meet two admirals (Dennis Quaid and Woody Harrelson), Colonels and Commanders (Aaron Eckhart, Luke Evans and Darren Criss), and Machinists (Nick Jonas). An important cryptanalyst, Commander Joseph Rochefort (Brennan Brown) is essential to the proceedings as well.  We also meet some wives (Mandy Moore, Rachael Perrell Fosket, and Christie Brooke). Finally, we have John Ford (Geoffrey Blake) a film director.

You may have noticed that I just laid out a laundry list of (mostly) nameless characters. The frustrating thing for me is that this is a film based on true events. The writer, Wes Tooke, even went to the trouble of using the real people who were involved in the real battle for the film.  The issue there is that this film is way overstuffed with characters.  Some of whom come and go off the screen so quickly, you wonder if you were even introduced to them in the first place.  I can’t even begin to explain plot, but if you know your history, you know how important The Battle of Midway was to America and to the war.

Midway soldiers on for 138 minutes.  The scenes of war and battles are semi spectacular.  If you can get past the video game-esque special effects, then you can drop the semi.  The sound design is even more incredible.  The visual style is hand picked from other, better war films.  There is a “kitchen sink” element to the screenplay as well.  It’s as if Emmerich and Tooke wanted to give those brave men their due in the film and fill each frame with their story and not leave anything out.  While that can be seen as commendable, I can’t say much about the film from a story or acting standpoint.  Everyone shows up, and does their thing, then they leave the screen.  Next, you’ll have a battle, and then ten more minutes of dialog.

Even worse is when we cut to the Japanese side of the battle, filling the screen again with many faces, but nobody doing much.  We get a lot of screen time of Japanese soldiers discussing their plans right before they’re then carried out in other scenes.  It seems like a lot of wasted time.  This time could’ve been used to bring a little bit of dramatization forth, or even some more information about the real-life people we are supposed to be rooting for.  In the end, the whole thing whittles down into a serious bore.  One can’t survive on technical merits alone.  Definitely not Midway, which feels like a giant missed opportunity.  There are tons of actors, tons of halfway decent action, and a sound design most movies like it would kill for.  It’s just a shame that it’s all placed in the middle of a dry, generic, and middling film.


  • Encoding: HEVC/H.265
  • Resolution: 4K Upscale (2K DI)
  • Aspect Ratio:2.39:1
  • HDR: Dolby Vision, HDR10
  • Clarity/Detail: Clarity and detail push this release over the top. Again, this film is a winner from a technological standpoint, and the imagery is lovingly recreated on this upscaled 4K presentation. The interiors of battleships, submarines, barracks, offices and more are scaled over with a fine-toothed comb.  There is no softness to be reported
  • Depth: Depth is treated with love especially in battle scenes. What’s a little telling is that those scenes look a little like a video game. Effects like this weren’t meant to be seen in a higher resolution, as some folks, like me, will be nitpicking the fake-ish look of it all.  The same can be said for some telling green screen moments in a few scenes.  It’s obvious in this presentation, but also not a knock, as that’s what 4K fans want is crisp, clean and popping off the screen.
  • Black Levels: Nice and deep. There are no crummy blacks in this presentation.
  • Color Reproduction: Colors look incredible here. The blues of the ocean, the greens of the land, the sepia tones to make the film look vintage… it all works wonderfully to bring you into a more period feeling during viewing. There is a great sheen over the whole film that makes things quite stunning from a color standpoint.
  • Flesh Tones: Flesh tones are for the most part natural. Some of the actors have the look of artificial tan or sunburn, but that may well be how they naturally look.  It didn’t seem as if that was a technical issue.
  • Noise/Artifacts: Midway was filmed digitally and then finished with some digital grain that helps and doesn’t hurt the presentation.


  • Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos (Dolby TrueHD 7.1 core), English Dolby Digital 2.0 (For “Late Night” listening), Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
  • Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
  • Dynamics: Midway has a Dolby Atmos mix to rival many an Atmos mix. As soon as we arrive in Pearl Harbor and get around any planes, we have a sound field all about placing sound in every speaker in your setup.  Sound effects pan in all directions, especially in war scenes. If we aren’t in battle, we hear sounds everywhere regardless, be it in nature, a military office or a nightclub. Sound is dynamic to the nth degree.
  • Height: Height channels are used wonderfully here in war scenes. Planes, gunfire, missile/torpedo launches and explosions rain down on the listener and put you right in the battle.
  • Low Frequency Extension: LFE is where the Atmos soundtrack really shines. There is never a dull moment when bass becomes present in the film. Bass bumps deep in a lot of the film, and you savor each floor rattling moment.
  • Surround Sound Presentation: Surrounds are used throughout with the same purpose as the height channels – To place sound throughout the room. Surrounds also carry the sounds of battle, small chatter, waves of water and more.
  • Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is presented in the center channel, and if I had one small gripe about the mix, it’s that the dialogue is just a tad quiet. But when you have your system cranked, which is how the film should be heard, it’s a small small gripe.


Midway comes home with an O-Ring slipcover, bundled with a Blu-ray and digital code.  The special features are presented on both discs in 1080p, and they’re the typical EPK type material, save for one feature that I’ll highlight below.

  • Audio Commentary by Roland Emmerich
  • Getting It Right: The Making of Midway (14:16): A featurette about trying to keep things as historically accurate as possible.
  • The Men of Midway (12:24): About the factual characters of the film
  • Roland Emmerich, Man on a Mission (4:57): Emmerich on his long-standing desire to make the film.
  • Turning Point: The Legacy of Midway (15:00): A historical featurette about the importance of the battle of Midway
  • Joe Rochefort: Breaking the Japanese Code (6:14): About the cryptanalyst who truly turned the war around for the troops in the Pacific
  • We Met At Midway: Two Survivors Remembers (9:29): An exceptional feature about two veterans who were actually at Midway.
  • Theatrical Trailer


Midway seems to feel like one of those missed opportunities.  The right intentions went into the film’s creation, but the carryout wasn’t so great.  Wooden acting, an overstuffing of characters, hokey looking effects, and the usual ham-handed direction of Emmerich has sealed the fate of this film as yet another forgettable attempt at presenting the battle of Midway in a film.  This is worth a look if you’re forgiving about revealing special effects and you want an audio demo disc for your home theater. Beyond that, it’s a waste of time. The summary of 3 of 5 is for the technical aspects of the disc alone.


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