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.

 

Some people need no introduction…

Those in Peril presents some intriguing concepts by reshuffling naval history’s deck of cards.  The US and Royal navies on opposite sides in World War I, and contending along our east coast 10 years later.  Then the U.S. allied with Japan in “The Oahu Pact” during the next world war.  Along the way we see pirates, the Spanish-American War refought, another look at the Falklands-Malvinas battle, and perhaps most interesting of all: a Japanese submarine freelancing against the French during the 1950s Indochina campaign.  Full credit to all the authors for originality!”
Barrett Tillman
On Wave and Wing: The 100-Year Quest to Perfect the Aircraft Carrier
Yep, Barrett Tillman, THE Barrett Tillman, likes the anthology. *giddy nooses*

Now It Can Be Told

So for about two months now, I’ve been having to sit on the line up for Trouble In The Wind.  Behold, the magnificence of the headliners…

Trouble Ebook Cover Big Lineup

If someone had told me when this whole indie thing got started, “Hey, you know someday you’re going to be editing an alternate history anthology with S.M. Stirling in it?”, I would have advised them to lay off the peyote.  If they’d then added the rest of the names on that list?  Well, I would have slowly backed away while searching for a weapon to deal with the crazy person.

I’m astounded and stunned to be working with titans.  We won’t even get into Team “And More.”  December 13th is the expected release date, so buckle your chin straps.

 

Music Monday: A Classic Gets the Epic Treatment and Some News

It’s the third Monday, and you know what that means–SCORE DAY!

A big trend in trailer music lately has been to update classic, recognizable songs and give them the “Epic” treatment (i.e., soaring instrumentals and drum tracks).  If you can hear the “Trailer Voice” guy narrating your book trailer to one of these songs, that’s kind of the point.  😀

Speaking of climatic scenes, two bits of info.  First, just a reminder, To Slip the Surly Bonds dropped last Friday (print cover shown to cover the additional cover art awesomeness!):

Print Cover

It has been climbing the charts and was #1 on the Historical Fiction New Release Chart last night (Sunday 15 September 2019 in case you’re reading this much later).

ORANGE TAG

Second, I’ll be at the Cincinnati Comic Expo this week!  I will (thanks to the Amazon gnomes getting it done early) have print copies of To Slip the Surly Bonds as well as the first copies of Anita C. Young’s State of Mind artbook!  Stay tuned during the week for location and maps!

It’s Time to Get A Little Surly!

To Slip the Surly Bonds has gone live on Amazon.

Cover Art

This was a long time coming, but all the hard work has paid off.  There’s an exclusive Taylor Anderson short story in here, a whole bunch of award-winning authors, a story from your humble narrator involving P-38s on Guadalcanal…yeah, it’s worth the price of admission.

In addition, if your friends like Alternate History, I’m throwing Acts of War up on sale beginning on Saturday (14 SEP) in the US and Sunday (15 SEP) in the UK.

 

 

EJECT! EJECT! EJECT!

Sometimes old videos make a person look at things in different ways:

 

 

While I haven’t gotten there yet, this video does make me think differently about jet combat in the Usurper’s War universe.  Without giving away spoilers, there will be a pseudo-Cold War in the aftermath of the in universe World War II.  Technology and how it works will play a key part in what characters live and die.

 

Constant Scrutiny

So I forgot about this being mentioned in a panel while at Libertycon. Yes, as Cedar says, if you’re in a group that seems at all sketchy, get out most ricky tick. The ‘Zon has been really cracking down on trying to find people gaming their system. From all appearances they may be indeed using neutron bombs on snipers. This is also why your humble narrator doesn’t even joke about quid quo pro for reviews online. One can make their own decisions on whether that’s paranoid, but memory is a fickle thing.

Mad Genius Club

As I was chatting with a fellow author last night, the topic came up of Amazon and their predilection for pulling reviews they find suspicious, or suspending the accounts of authors they think may be gaming the system. It was something John van Stry had talked about on the trends in Indie Publishing panel he and I were on, along with Jim Curtis and Lawdog. (Great panel, I was listening more than talking, and we had almost two hours so we got into the meat of the matter).

The upshot of that conversation, and the more private one later, is that as authors we must avoid all appearance of evil.

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Shapes and Such

So while I’m busy editing To Slip the Surly Bonds‘ entries, here’s something else for your reading pleasure:

Shapes, Part I: The Shape of Airpower

Note that his opinions and experiences with naysaying the airframe reflect many of my own with regards to the F-35.  (Neither the author’s opinions nor mine reflect official DoD policy.  Nor do they mirror those of our respective services or the U.S. government.)

As I’ve mentioned before, very early on in the F-35’s development someone in the other services should’ve said, “Fine, let’s give the Marines’ their jump fighter (or seriously modify the AV-8), and everyone else who needs a power projection platform will take this in a different direction.”  For various reasons (to include the foolish belief that, after the Cold War, great power conflicts were a dead issue) this was not done–and now all the armed services have a fighter that is more F-105/F-111 than, say, F-16.  That’s…that’s not good, and I’m glad to see purchasing additional F-15 platforms is being vehemently discussed.  I’d prefer they were F-22s, but the Eagle‘s inherent growth abilities continue to provide dividends.

Big picture, it’s probably time to also consider augmenting our current heavy bomber fleet with something off the shelf.  How many cruise missiles can you fit into a Boeing 767?  I don’t know, but maybe that’s something Congress should direct the Air Force think about. 

 

At the Sharp End

This was the runner up for last week’s Memorial Day edition of Metal Monday.  Like Five Finger Death Punch, Avenged Sevenfold has done a lot to support members of the Armed Forces by putting in their time with tours.  “Danger Line” is a pretty intense song about a soldier’s last moments and the chaos of combat, and I’ve used it as background for several scenes in Aries’ Red Sky.