May 1941. After the Doolittle Raid Japan aims to expand its territory in the Pacific, to make such raids less likely. Their next target: Midway Island. However, the US Navy is intercepting their messages and has partially cracked their encryption code, forewarning them of Japan's intentions. Two US aircraft carrier task groups are sent to Midway, resulting in the one of the most important battles in history.Written by
A television version exists, with additional cast and plot. It runs four hours with commercials. The main plot points are a Charlton Heston-Susan Sullivan romance and the Coral Sea battle (reffered to in the other version) is played out like the Midway battle. The Coral Sea battle heavily features Mitchell Ryan as Admiral Aubrey Fitch and also includes a subplot where a young Japanese pilot who'd met with Admiral Nagumo to express his opposition to Japanese military action is shot down. At the end of the TV version, Sullivan and Christine Kukobo are both shown waiting dockside. See more »
I first saw this movie when it was opening as a 10 year old boy who was enamored with WWII. At that time to me, it was one of the best war movies I had ever seen. Due to my prior readings on the battle, I knew it followed the history fairly well, and I was able to tune out the romance sub plot. The look of movie was something that was something I was not familiar with in war movies up to that point. The indoor officers were in nice neat uniforms, while the pilots, Marines, and common sailors had a weary rumpled look. And the language! I had not yet heard so much cursing in a war movie (it was 1976 and for the most part John Wayne type movies were the norm). But I loved it all! I knew most of the planes shown on screen were not accurate, and much of the combat footage was from later in the war. But it showed a different type of war movie. The Japanese were strong, smart, and nearly invincible. Not monsters or maniacs, but allowing overconfidence at times to cloud some decisions. The Americans were brave, novices, unsure of themselves at times, yet determined not to fail, no matter the cost. Not the overpowering unbeatable force of years to come later in the war. Watching during the initial phases of combat as obsolete US planes were shot down one by one by the superior Japanese fighters, I was captivated by the self sacrifice(a year later the ending dogfight in Star Wars would make me think of Torpedo 8). Then the tide turned as events, luck, and timing change the course of battle. In the end, the US wins, the Japanese are defeated, and survivors ponder the results and reasons why briefly. Flash forward 32 years later and I watch this movie again on my DVD copy on the 66th anniversary of the battle. This movie holds up not too badly against the test of time. Much time has passed in by movie making and in my gaining knowledge of this subject. To me the strengths still hold, as do the weaknesses. The interracial romance subplot is certainly a 70s addition. Certainly not believable in a historical context. The stock footage of aircraft certainly still glares in error as well. Color footage was shot during the battle and released in a documentary. A small amount was incorporated into the movie. Much more could have replaced other sequences that were used in the movie. Many of the Tora!Tora!Tora! conversion aircraft were still local to Universal Studios at Orange County or Chino airports at the time of filming. Some were used in the Midway Island bombing sequence, but not in the Yorktown attacks. Too bad they did not make more use of them for a better look. The Japanese film sequences from "Storm Over the Pacific" actually worked very well for their capturing the look of the Japanese carriers and the activities on board. As did the lifted opening from "30 seconds Over Tokyo". Much of the dialog on film is true to life with certain quotes historically accurate. "Look at that b*****d burn", was the first radio message clearly heard on the US carriers letting them know any of the air strikes had made contact and been successful. It also holds up sticking fairly close to the time line of actual events, but there are several events omitted. Finally the effects were not bad. For pre CGI the choices are to build full scale mocks ups, use an area or item that has a resemblance or miniatures. All three methods were used to good effect. And the results were for the most part just as good as, if not better than the more modern (film making wise) CGI heavy "Pearl Harbor". All in all, a decent war movie, still worth watching, flaws and all.
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