By Britt Argo
Veterans Day Weekend
Midway is a must-see action war drama chronicling the Battle of Midway in the Pacific during World War II. Taking place six months after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the movie is based on the real-life events of the soldiers and leaders of the American fleet and the Imperial Japanese Navy. For those not savvy with history (thank you, Wikipedia!), Midway is a tiny atoll 1,300 miles northwest of the Hawaiian Island of Oahu. The Japanese didn’t want to risk attacking Pearl Harbor again since it had been fortified. Instead, they strategized to surprise Midway—too far out of range of other aircraft stations for reinforcements. However, the Japanese admirals underestimated the American’s resolve and codebreaking ability. The American fleet was ready for the “surprise attack” on Midway (June 4–7, 1942). They not only won the battle, but depleted enough men/ships to garner the Japanese too vulnerable to win the war. The American’s victory at Midway was considered the “turning point” in winning the Pacific War. (History lesson over.)
This movie is far from just a two-hour history lesson. Roland Emmerich (Independence Day)—the director known for “in-your-face” action scenes—takes you for a ride the entire movie. If you loved Top Gun and Pearl Harbor, brace yourself for another sweeping aerial battle movie!
Like the great, epic war movies before it (Pearl Harbor, Saving Private Ryan, Dunkirk)—you get swept into the action without ever leaving your seat. From the bombing and loud explosions, tense “edge of your seat” shots from fast-swooping planes, and the dramatic musical score heightening emotions—Midway has it all. With great commanding actors, adding bravado as the admirals and lieutenants—Patrick Wilson, Woody Harrelson, Dennis Quaid, Luke Evans, Jake Weber, and Aaron Eckhart (an actor with such presence you believe he’s a real lieutenant). And, the young underdogs who want to prove to Washington that their Navy isn’t a joke—Nick Jonas, Darren Criss, Ed Skrein, Keean Johnson, and Luke Kleintank—are all believable pilots eager to show their patriotism. All heroes need a villain to overcome—actors Etsushi Toyokawa (Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto) and Tadanobu Asano (Rear Admiral Tamon Yamaguchi) bring a quiet intensity to their roles. No epic war flick would be complete without the doting love interest—Mandy Moore (Anne Best) is plenty supportive, but worried as her husband Ed Skrein (Lieutenant Dick Best) goes off to battle.
Why you will love it – The tagline says it all, “When our freedom was under attack, one battle would turn the tide. The courage of a few will change the fate of the world.” It’s about heroic feats, patriotism, bravery, overcoming the odds, and rooting for our team to win. Even when you know how it turns out, it’s still thrilling to watch and immerse yourself in the spectacle. This is a visual, big screen movie meant to be shared with fellow audience members. Yes—go watch this one!
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood – Opens November 22
Mr. Fred McFeely Rogers, a beloved and trusted television icon, impacted the lives of many preschool-aged children from 1968 to 2001—airing almost 900 episodes of Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood on PBS. Mr. Rogers was a composer, puppeteer, writer, director, television personality, and Presbyterian minister. According to his friend, journalist Tom Junod, his lifelong passions were playing the piano, swimming (nearly every day), and living a healthy and simple lifestyle (no smoking or drinking and triumphantly keeping his weight at a lean 143 pounds). He valued patience, reflection, and “silence in a noisy world”. Mr. Rogers got into television to help fill a void—to bring educational programming that addressed emotional and psychological well-being with lessons of morality, ethics, civility, tolerance, sharing, self-worth, and feelings. He even tackled more difficult subjects—the death of a pet, sibling rivalry, moving, enrolling in a new school, and divorce. He dedicated his life to improving the lives of his viewers, and he also answered every letter written and mailed to him, a “pastoral duty of sorts”. (Again, thank you Wikipedia.)
A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is not a typical biographical motion picture. Mr. Rogers’ life story was chronicled last year in the biopic documentary Won’t You Be My Neighbor? This film is more a special, poignant tale—a snapshot of Fred Rogers based on his real-life friendship with Esquire journalist Tom Junod (Lloyd Vogel). Matthew Rhys (The Americans) plays Lloyd Vogel—a jaded, cynical magazine reporter assigned to do a piece about Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks) and whether he considers himself a hero. Spending time with him, Vogel is surprised to find that Rogers is the same calm, mild-mannered, kind, and decent man in real life that he is on the show. He is even more surprised to see just how much he affects the fans around him. The movie (from Vogel’s perspective) is the impact this interview/time with Rogers has on his own life. He finds that Rogers “likes to fix broken people, like himself,” but really, it’s just his mission to help people who need and ask for help. Each person’s life he touches is remarkable, and he feels that if he lives his life to always help, he will have lived a rewarding life. The message of the movie is, “It only takes one person to inspire a world of kindness.” Even if you aren’t familiar with Mr. Rogers, the sentiment and story are a perfect match for this Thanksgiving time with family and friends.
Why you will love it – Tom Hanks, Tom Hanks, Tom Hanks! Humble, honest, trustworthy, beloved, kind—all words that easily describe both Fred Rogers and Tom Hanks. Tom Hanks embodies the same values, karma, and magic that draws us to both him and Fred Rogers. This movie was only made because he could portray Fred Rogers. No other actor could (or should) play this role to justly honor his memory.Tom Hanks is no stranger to playing real people (Capt. Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger in Sully, Walt Disney in Saving Mr. Banks). In this film, he had to capture the spirit, cadence, mannerisms, and meld into Fred Rogers—or risk feeling like a caricature of the man we’ve seen so many times. Of course, he nailed it! And, we (as the audience) get to “live in his neighborhood” once more. The Oscar buzz for Best Actor is already humming. What better time to catch a feel-good movie to get you in the holiday spirit than right before this Thanksgiving holiday. It’s a Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood is a gift to watch!
Britt Argo, an avid movie fan for 30 years, sees an average of 150 movies a year in movie theaters. She is the marketing coordinator at Area 51: Aurora Cineplex and The Fringe Miniature Golf—5100 Commerce Parkway in Roswell. 770-518-0977.