Director Roland Emmerich enjoys painting on a big canvas, and his next effort will be no different as he will tackle the WWII battle film Midway. No matter the subject matter, Emmerich almost always finds a way to achieve a sense of blockbuster scale, and indeed is so committed to his grand effects that the human element in his films often becomes overwhelmed.
Emmerich’s newly announced project will afford him the chance to handle material that is both epic in scope and serious in terms of dramatic and historical impact. Whether the human stories within the epic subject matter survive the Emmerich treatment is something that remains to be seen.
As reported by Variety, Emmerich’s new film will be a dramatization of the WWII Battle of Midway, to be made with a significant investment from the Chinese Bona Film Group. The Midway script by Wes Tooke follows U.S. soldiers and aviators as they clash with Japanese forces on and above the title island, a tiny piece of land in the middle of the Pacific Ocean where the tide of the war turns once-and-for-all in favor of America. Yu Dong, Mark Gordon, Matt Jackson, and Harald Kloser will produce along with Emmerich.
Tooke is a newcomer to writing feature films, with only episodes of the TV series Colony (which he executive produces) on his resume prior to this. Though Emmerich is primarily known for making science fiction-themed action movies like the Independence Day films, Godzilla, 2012 and The Day After Tomorrow, he has delved into American history before. In 2000, Emmerich tackled the American Revolution with his historically dubious and very violent epic The Patriot starring Mel Gibson and Heath Ledger.
In more recent years, Emmerich has attempted more straightforward, less action-oriented historical drama with the Elizabethan-era costume film Anonymous and the 1960s-set Stonewall about the famous Stonewall riots. Though Anonymous garnered some positive reviews, Stonewall was almost universally panned for being a tone-deaf depiction of an important historical event.
WWII has once again become a very popular subject for filmmakers with a tendency toward epic ambition, with Christopher Nolan unleashing Dunkirk and Ridley Scott reportedly ready to make a film about the Battle of Britain. Roland Emmerich certainly has epic ambitions, but very often those ambitions lead him to create films that are perceived as being big and entertaining but ultimately hollow. The Battle of Midway, a pivotal moment in WWII, surely warrants an epic film treatment but folks will argue about whether Emmerich is the guy who should be tackling such a major event in American history.