Midway 4K Blu-ray review

Feb 19, 2020- Permalink

Roland Emmerich’s Midway may sometimes lack some emotional depth and have line deliveries right out of a 1940s recruitment/morale film, but it does a very good job of telling us the story behind one of the pivotal naval battles in the Pacific Theater during WWII. Like 1970’s Tora! Tora! Tora!, we see the story from both sides and get inside the thinking process of the admirals and captains. It’s not just a dry history lesson though, as Emmerich brings to life not just the Battle of Midway but the attack on Pearl Harbor that proceeded it. Pilots take risks, intelligence analysts make educated guesses and we get entertained along the way. Lionsgate has just released Midway for your home entertainment library and I had a chance to review the 4K Ultra HD, Blu-ray and Digital combo pack.

The 2160p H.265/HEVC-encoded transfer is presented in the theatrical release’s 2.39:1 aspect ratio. Details on fabrics, real items and facial features are excellent, and even though some of the CGI elements and green-screened backgrounds can have a little softness, the detail is still quite good. The colour palette is mostly muted with a lot of greens, beiges and greys, but when colours pop, like on the dress of a nightclub singer, they’re beautifully saturated. Contrast and black levels are generally good, though there is some crushing in the darkest scenes. There’s some digital grain added, which gives it an almost historical footage look at times, so you’ll have to decide if it’s an artistic choice or an irritant. I didn’t mind.

On the audio side, there are some different options depending on country. I was sent a US review copy, which comes with an English Dolby Atmos track, an English Dolby Digital 2.0 descriptive track and a Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 track. Subtitles are available in English SDH and Spanish. According to the box photo on Amazon Canada, the Canadian version doesn’t have Atmos, but rather English and French DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 tracks and subtitles in English SDH only. Not quite sure why the Canadian version would lose the Atmos. Speaking of Atmos, the immersive soundtrack makes excellent use of the height speakers. The battle scenes have bullets, bombs and planes traversing the whole soundscape, while the low frequency effects have ample power. The musical score is clear and dynamic, while dialogue is clear and well-prioritized.

Besides the Blu-ray copy, there’s also a digital copy code. The other extras include audio commentary by Roland Emmerich, a look at the filmmakers’s goal of accuracy, a look at some of the real-life characters, a featurette on Emmerich’s interest in Midway, historical looks at the legacy of the battle and the important code-breaking that gave the US an intelligence upper hand, a touching piece with two Midway veterans and a theatrical trailer.

Midway does a very good job of showing us the battle of Midway, the events leading up to it, and the men in uniform on both side who had to live and die by the political decisions that led to the war. With an excellent video and audio presentation coupled with a nice collection of extras, historical buffs will want to add this one to their home collection.