Blockbuster filmmaker Roland Emmerich directs an all-star ensemble cast in Midway, an intimate portrayal of historic actual events of one of the most important and decisive battles of World War II. Ralph Potts reviews the Ultra HD Blu-ray release from Lionsgate Home Entertainment.

The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )

Film:
Extras:
Audio/UHD Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )

93
Details:

Studio and Year: Lionsgate - 2019
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 138 minutes
Genre: Drama

Disc Format: BD-100
Encoding: HEVC
Video Aspect: 2.39:1
Resolution: 2160p/24

Audio Format(s): English Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish
Starring: Ed Skrein, Patrick Wilson, Luke Evans, Woody Harrelson, Dennis Quaid, Mandy Moore, Aaron Eckhart, Etsushi Toyokawa, Tadnobu Asano, Nick Jonas, Luke Kleintank, Jun Kunimura, Darren Criss, Keean Johnson
Directed by: Roland Emmerich
Music by: Thomas Wander, Harald Kloser
Written by: Wes Tooke
Region Code: A

Release Date: February 18, 2020
"Based on Real Events"
Synopsis:

“The story of the WWII Battle of Midway, as seen from the perspectives of the leaders and the sailors who fought it.” – Lionsgate Home Entertainment

My Take:

On Dec. 7, 1941, Japanese forces launch a devastating attack on Pearl Harbor, the U.S. naval base in Hawaii. Six months later, the Battle of Midway commences on June 4, 1942, as the Japanese navy once again plans a strike against American naval forces on the small island in the Pacific. For the next three days, the U.S. Navy and a squad of brave fighter pilots engage the enemy in one of the most important and decisive battles of World War II.

Midway centers on the Battle of Midway, a clash between the American fleet and the Imperial Japanese Navy which marked a pivotal turning point in the Pacific Theater during WWII. The film, based on the real-life events of this heroic feat, tells the story of the leaders and soldiers who used their instincts, fortitude, and bravery to overcome the odds. As someone that is generally drawn to films that depict historical events, especially significant ones, I looked forward to seeing Midway. Middling early reviews made me less inclined to make the trip to the cineplex for it so, I opted to wait for its release on home video.

There have been plenty of Hollywood productions devoted to the World War II, some that dealt with its beginnings and others that depicted specific/significant events. The battle at Midway was most definitely one of the most important of WWII and, has been done before. Midway takes aim at giving us an inside look at the people responsible for its success while providing an overview of the battle itself. The film opens with a brief backstory and segue into the attack at Pearl Harbor before moving on to laying out the story/people/events that led up to Midway.

I was okay with the development of the plot and the film’s pacing. I also appreciated the depiction of the integral roles played by the various members in command, on both sides of the conflict. The narrative, as a whole, didn’t bring anything fresh to the table, instead settling for clichés, pointed melodrama and stabs at epic moments that rarely live up to the subject matter.

Part of what makes Midway less compelling was the choice to cast British actor Ed Skrein in the lead. I have seen him in a number of films and generally like him. The problem here is that he portrays Richard “Dick” Best from New Jersey and his attempts at an accent leave much to be desired. I found it distracting at nearly every turn. Not to mention that he doesn’t have the acting chops to carry a film like this. Mandy Moore was cast as his wife and, frankly, she isn’t any better in the acting department. I think Nick Jonas, with his small role, did a better job. I did enjoy the performances by the rest of the cast though.

The production elements are a bit of a mixed bag. The amount of CGI used the in the film sometimes detracts from its dramatic impact but, I suppose that’s a byproduct of making a picture like this. When the credits rolled, I didn’t necessarily find myself disappointed in Midway. It just felt more ordinary than I’d hoped and ultimately like a missed opportunity. I do plan on revisiting it to see what a second viewing brings.

Replay Value: 3.5 Stars

Parental Guide:

The rating is for sequences of war violence and related images, language and smoking.

AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65

**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**

UHD Presentation(HDR-10): 90
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 
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UHD Presentation (Dolby Vision): 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 
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Dolby Atmos Rating: 96
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 
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Midway comes to Ultra HD Blu-ray from Lionsgate Home Entertainment featuring 2160pHEVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

For its presentation in Ultra HD, Midway was rendered from an 8K source and finished on a 2K DI. Midway is a period war drama that adheres to relatively cooler chromatic schemes, with the exception of sequences that call for richer color to provide thematic emphasis, which doesn't make for especially eye- catching levels of color, but this Ultra HD rendering makes the most of its elements. Resolution gets a boost with the differences between the UHD and 1080p renderings being appreciable but, not staggering.
The plethora of close up camera shots reveal plenty of subtle refinement and textures within the image. Primary colors like blue and red are pleasingly rich while whites appear bright, punchy and occasionally a bit lacking in the finest gradations.

The added dimension in the grays, blacks, and shadows gives the image ample depth. The exterior sequences with their overcast skies, moody visual aesthetic and sharp lines looked excellent. The film has several sequences that take advantage of high dynamic range. The contrast between the shadow details, bright flashes and, glistening metal objects was appreciable, imparting an overall stylized visual aesthetic that mated well with the film’s thematic tone.

Given its chosen elements, Midway isn’t the type of film that is going to dazzle with its use of visual dynamism or vivid color. I believe that its Ultra HD presentation appears faithful. Those hoping for a night and day difference between it and its 1080p counterpart may be disappointed but, there’s no question that it benefitted from the Ultra HD treatment.

Dolby Vision vs HDR-10:

I utilize the TCL 55P607 UHD Dolby Vision HDR flat panel in my review system to enable me to compare the visual quality of titles that contained the Dolby Vision metadata versus its HDR-10 counterpart on the same disc. All titles are first watched via my JVC front projector. I then select specific scenes which are watched on the TCL, first via HDR-10 then via Dolby Vision. The TCL isn’t among the top tier flat panels with DV, however it came recommended by AVS Senior Editor Mark Henninger, and calibrates/performs extremely well for a set at its price point.

* The cumulative A/V score will still be based upon the HDR-10 rating, with the DV rating serving as informational only for now.*

Comparing the DV and HDR-10 presentations for Midway, I found the HDR renderings to be very close. As I alluded to earlier, this film’s elements aren’t lent to use of overtly rich color, but I did take a close look at the rendering of contrast, chromatic depth and delineation during scenes containing dark and bright highlights. When I switched back and forth between the DV and HDR10 renderings, I felt that the DV presentation revealed better definition in the darkest portions of the image, and slightly improved white detail. These differences aren’t especially noteworthy, but in the grand scheme, made for a more pleasing image.

Dolby Atmos:

In listening to the Dolby Atmos surround mix I found it to be an entertaining listening experience that made excellent use of the platform. The immersive mix compliments the already top-notch soundtrack and enhances the experience of watching the film. The attention to detail here is noticeably on display and I have to tip my cap to the sound mixer. The use of audio objects placed above and at ear level is a mix of atmospherics, discrete effects and music. This is done to excellent effect and creates a tangible level of immersion that coincides with the onscreen events nicely. The film’s active moments, swallow you up as the revolving, rotating and all-encompassing surround sound comes at you from all sides.

There is also much to enjoy in scenes that aren’t actively intense as smaller elements in the background are articulated and dimensionally full. In general, this Dolby Atmos mix made for an involving surround sound experience. I enjoyed the balance of atmosphere and discrete object placement.

For those not familiar with the details regarding Ultra HD Blu-ray you can refer to my article that includes some pertinent data on the subject. Here is the link:

Ultra HD Blu-ray Has Come to AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews

Blu-ray Video:

Video: 92
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 
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Audio: 100
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)

 
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  • DSU/DTS Neural:X Rating * (non-rated element): NA
 

Midway comes to Blu-ray Disc from Lionsgate Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video and lossless Dolby Atmos/TrueHD 7.1 channel sound.

This is an excellent high definition rendering that sports plenty of fine detail and crisp definition that provides discerning dimensional perspective. Colors range from warm and vivid to cool, reserved and almost tonally neutral. This is obviously a creative decision that draws definitive visual boundaries and works quite well. Contrast is strong and blacks are deep without compromise to delineation. Shadowy areas exhibit excellent depth of field and visible gradational stages. I didn’t see any signs of video degrading artifacts or extraneous compression related noise. Midway looks great on Blu-ray.

The 7.1 Dolby TrueHD soundtrack doesn’t disappoint and sounds terrific. This is an active audio presentation that utilizes the entire system to create a theater like experience. Sound staging is quite good as both the front and rear channels are seamlessly integrated. Sound effects traverse the room during the extended battle sequences. Dynamics are energy filled and impact felt with discerning articulation and clarity. This is an aggressive mix that makes regular use of the subwoofer to accentuate its potent dynamics. The result is that all points of contact seem to resonate with tactile low bass impact. The quality of the bass is first rate as it is fills the room with clean, hard hitting low frequency energy. Dialog has refining presence with clear vocal character and excellent room penetration. This is an entertaining audio presentation that compliments the film while making for an excellent home theater experience.

Bonus Features:
  • Disc 1: Midway Ultra HD Blu-ray
  • Disc 2: Midway Blu-ray
    • Audio Commentary by Roland Emmerich
    • “Getting It Right: The Making of Midway” Featurette
    • “The Men of Midway” Featurette
    • “Roland Emmerich: Man on a Mission” Featurette
    • “Turning Point: The Legacy of Midway” Featurette
    • “Joe Rochefort: Breaking the Japanese Code” Featurette
    • “We Met at Midway: Two Survivors Remember” Featurette
    • Theatrical Trailer
  • Digital Code
Final Thoughts:

Based on real events Midway is a mixed bag of a blockbuster that would have benefitted from a stronger script and a tweak or two to its casting choices. It comes to Blu-ray from Lionsgate Home Entertainment in this Ultra HD Blu-ray Combo Pack featuring excellent overall video quality, killer lossless surround sound (including a terrific Dolby Atmos mix) and a fan friendly assortment of extras. Midway will probably frustrate discerning cinephiles but, it has enough going for it to warrant the attention of those that typically enjoy the films by its director Roland Emmerich. Give it a spin on Blu-ray and see for yourself.
 
Ralph Potts
AVS Forum Blu-ray Reviews


Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS2000 4K Ultra High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman color calibration software and Portrait Displays C6 HDR2000 colorimeter from  Portrait.com )
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Electronic Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV7704 Audio/Video Processor
Emotiva XPA-7 Gen 3 Seven Channel Amplifier
Emotiva XPA-11 Gen 3 Amplifier
Panasonic DP-UB820 Ultra HD Blu-ray Player
System Controller: Apple iPad/Roomie Remote V6 Universal Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" and Canton In-Ceiling Series Speakers
SVS Ultra Surrounds (Gloss Finish in Bipolar Configuration)
Dual SVS PC4000 Cylinder Subwoofers
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
AC Infinity Aircom T8 Component Cooling Systems