Review of Midway (2019 Film)

I’ve been plugging away on Against the Tide Imperial most of November for Nano. I was amidst the Kido Butai engaging four of the Royal Navy’s carriers in the Indian Ocean when my memory jogged:  I never reviewed Midway despite intending to right after seeing it.  This, folks, is called “Nano-brain,” in which other tasks seem to fall aside as one strives to get to 50,000-words by 30 November.  (As I’ve long been a Nano-rebel, yes, I’m counting this blog post towards my 50k.)

Bottom Line: Go see it.  As in, if you are a Pacific War buff, open a new tab, figure out a show time near you, then go immediately.  This is really a movie you want to see on the big screen, as it’s a visual feast.  I’m not saying see it in IMAX 4-D like I did (all the other show times didn’t line up well for a work night)

Is it accurate?  About 80-90% so, with the discrepancies (e.g., Halsey arriving just as the Lexington is sinking, said carrier being represented as a Yorktown-class due to CGI, etc.) being minor and obviously done in the service of story.  But let me be clear–this is not a Ben Affleck’s Pearl Harbor.  Or put another way, you can see that the historical adviser was front and center versus bound and gagged in the corner.  Indeed, it’s sad to say that Midway did a better job of accurately capturing the Pearl Harbor attack in a matter of minutes than the titular, much maligned movie did.

If you’re saying, “Wait, what?”, understand that this movie attempts to pack everything from 7 December ’41 to 4 June ’42 into the first half.  This goes better than expected and is highly necessary if you take someone who doesn’t know the history, but buffs may get a little annoyed at some shortcuts.  For example, I can’t remember Vice Admiral Fletcher ever actually making an appearance on screen, and Raymond Spruance kinda gets the short shrift.  Similarly slighted? Anyone who flew a Wildcat, Commander John C. Waldron, and the Yorktown‘s squadrons.  However, in exchange DICK BEST finally gets the credit he deserves (albeit with a lot of Hollywood spin), Wade McCluskey is humanized, and the sacrifice of Commander Gene Lindsey (VT-6) also gets front and center treatment.  Finally, you will leave this movie wondering when they’re going to film Doolittle, and not in a bad way.  (Seriously.  The Raiders need their own movie after this.)

Overall, very entertaining and mostly accurate, I’d give Midway 4/5 stars.  Yes, things could have been done better in a lot of ways, but the way they chose was very, very good.

***History discussion incoming***

For those of you who have been following some of the recent scholarship on Midway, the movie folks straddled between what I call the Miracle at Midway and Shattered Sword schools.  (For a brief rundown of the debate, see Parshall, Dickson, and Tully’s article here.  Parshall and Tully wrote the book Shattered Sword, which is a full length treatment of this article.)  I think the producers did it well, as they showed the problems constant attacks had on the Kido Butai.  However, they did have Nagumo well on the way to getting his second strike prepared and ready to spot when the SBDs show up.  This is mostly opposed to Parshall and Tully’s belief that the Kido Butai was probably at least another half hour out from being able to swing at Fletcher/Spruance when the weather forecast became, “Clear, with a 100% chance of Helldivers and 1,000-lb. bombs…”.  Personally, I’m with the movie producers, i.e., no the Japanese decks weren’t full of aircraft but another 20 minutes would have likely been bad news for the USN.  Hmm, maybe someday a person should do an alternate history of Midway…

Speaking of alternate history, Against the Tide Imperial is coming along well.  I’ve greatly benefited from reading the book How Carriers Fought as a refresher course in RN carrier tactics.  Let’s just say it’s a good thing Somerville stayed away from Nagumo in 1942.  Spoiler alert:  Vice Admiral Cunningham does not stay away from Vice Admiral Yamaguchi in Against the Tide Imperial.  So if you’re a fan of carrier battles, keep an eye out for the pre-order link next month.

 

WWII Quick References (NOV 2019)

Figured I’d perchance save loyal readers some gumshoe work down the road if they ever want to do a World War II story:

You can find ONI drawings for World War II references (like for your cartographer to draw ship outlines) here.

This is a good time zone converter for those cases when you go from Hawaii to Mombasa  to Ceylon all in one chapter.

Finally, lunar data for those pesky night Mosquito attacks.

Now, back to the Kido Butai vs.  Her Commonwealth Navy’s Far East Fleet.  Later!

Happy Veteran’s Day Potpourri Post

So it’s been a bit since I’ve updated the blog.  I figured I’d hit some of the high points of the last couple of weeks:

Attended the Ozark Book Con down in Fayetteville this past weekend as a vendor.  First year event with all that entails, but had good panels and talks with several good authors.  I recommend attending the event for the professional aspects if you’re in the area.  If you’re coming from out of the town, it’s definitely a “Hey rando friend I haven’t talked to in years, mind if I sleep on your couch?” until it grows some.  Which, given the professionalism and drive on display, I think it definitely will.

On the way back, finally got to meet Acts of War‘s editor, Mary, in person.  In addition to being long overdue, the fact it’s been 5+ years since that book went through her able hands made me marvel at what modern technology makes possible.  Although her current work with medical journals precludes her from working on anything else, I’m glad that a mutual acquaintance said “Hey, I know someone who might be able to help you…” many moons ago.

Speaking of the Usurper’s War series, Against the Tide Imperial continues to move along.  Unfortunately, after getting read the riot act by an author mentor, I’ve had to accept that the Phases of Mars anthologies are 100% my “books for the year.”  Combined with the new day job’s obligations (oh, yeah, I got promoted and changed positions), the process of putting out Those In PerilTo Slip the Surly Bonds, and Trouble in the Wind has pretty much sucked up a lot of available time.  So, rather than put out a substandard product or skimp on marketing, Against the Tide Imperial is slipping to the right again.  The manuscript will get done this year (which means preorders will be up), but the actual _book_ is probably going to be out in 1st Quarter 2020.  *angry author noises*

This dovetails to a professional lesson that I am learning again, but in a different dialect:  Projects are rarely as easy as they may initially seem.  At the beginning of the year, with Those In Peril shooting up the charts, “Suuuure, we can do two more of these this year…” seemed like a good plan.  What I now realize is one can do three books in a year, it just means one probably shouldn’t also do cons and other creative projects if there’s also a fourth book one would like done.  So, for 2020, the lesson will be, “No, I think that timeline doesn’t work for me, thank you…” as I get solo projects back in line.  (Feel free to remind me of this in the comments when my hair is on fire again this time next year.)

In addition, having now done editing three times, I cannot emphasize enough that you should always pay your damn editor.   It’s a whole different animal than writing, and I will issue a blanket, heartfelt mea culpa for some of my past sins to my editors.  In addition, as an author, understand that your editor’s job is to polish up your work.  “Polish” implies that you have done a grammatical read through, researched the technical aspects of the work, and are basically giving the editor a complete story that just needs a set of professional eyes to look upon it.  This goes doubly so for an anthology submission.  Indeed, I’m just going to let John G. Hartness take it away…(language alert…NO REALLY!):

Anyway, it’s Nano (and yes, I’m counting these words), and I’m going back to US CVs about to go to guns with an Italian Fleet.  (Yes, that’s a teaser.)