Lack of spirit leaves World War II saga hanging midway

Roland Emmerich’s just-opened “Midway” comes nowhere close to the 1950s and 1960s war adventures. (Supplied)
Updated 14 November 2019

Lack of spirit leaves World War II saga hanging midway

CHENNAI: Movies on World War II have delighted cinema audiences for years. Nobody can forget the daring Allied escape in the 1965 “Von Ryan’s Express” with Frank Sinatra and Trevor Howard driving a train through Nazi-occupied territory.

There were others in that decade and earlier such as David Lean’s “The Bridge on the River Kwai” about British prisoners of war building a railway in malaria-infested Burma (now Myanmar). These were great classics, but recent efforts have not been as memorable.




(Supplied)

Roland Emmerich’s just-opened “Midway” comes nowhere close to the 1950s and 1960s war adventures. Despite audiences still being thirsty for WWII sagas and a star-studded cast (Patrick Wilson, Woody Harrelson, Mandy Moore, Ed Skrein and Nick Jonas), the film is unmoving, mainly because of the shallow characters. If the dialogues are stiff, the dramatic potential – including the relationship among the men – appears to have been left midway.

The film begins with Japan’s December 1941 air attack on the US naval base in Pearl Harbor, Honolulu, which dragged America into the conflict, and the flick follows America’s revenge mission culminating in the June 1942 Battle of Midway.




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For the US, it was a victory against all odds giving them control of the Pacific’s Midway atoll. It was also a major triumph of human spirit, but the film does not quite capture it.

Most of the exploits relate to real-life fighter pilot Dick Best (Skrein), whose devil-may-care attitude earns him the title “cowboy.” His wife Ann (Moore), the only female character, urges him on but seems a washed-out figure. However, there is plenty of action in the air with dog fights, bombings and pilots ejecting from burning planes high above the ground.




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For fans of singer Jonas, his small but significant part may appeal. He is sailor Bruno Gaido whose spontaneous and heroic action during a Japanese raid earns him promotion.

“Midway” plays at three levels, including one about Japanese military officers, and was shot in Hawaii and Montreal with a lot of computer graphics thrown in. The camera work (Robby Baumgartner) is impressive, but somewhere the soul is missing, and the characters fail to come across as real people.

Despite this, the film opened atop the North American box office last weekend with a reported $17.5 million in ticket sales.


Madonna raises funds for victims of Beirut explosion

Updated 11 August 2020

Madonna raises funds for victims of Beirut explosion

DUBAI: American singer and songwriter Madonna announced on Monday that she and her two children, David Banda and Mercy James, are hosting an art sale to support victims of the massive explosion that ripped through Beirut on Aug. 4, killing over 200 and injuring thousands.

In a video posted to the 61-year-old star’s Instagram account, Madonna can be seen sitting on the ground painting a sign that read “Proceeds go to Impact Lebanon.” (Instagram)

The proceeds from the sales will go to the non-profit organization Impact Lebanon, which has been helping the hundreds of thousands left homeless after the deadly blast. 

Mercy James helped the singer during the sale. (Instagram)

In a video posted to the 61-year-old star’s Instagram account, Madonna can be seen sitting on the ground painting a sign that read “Proceeds go to Impact Lebanon.”

David Banda helped the singer during the sale. (Instagram)

Other celebrities such as Bella Hadid, Kylie Jenner, DJ Khaled and Dua Lipa, have been taking to social media to show solidarity for the victims, and online influencers around the world have been urging their followers to make donations towards rescue and recovery work.

American actor George Clooney and his wife, Lebanese-British human rights lawyer Amal Clooney, also revealed earlier this week they are donating $100,000 to Lebanese charities.