Midway ★★

At least “Pearl Harbor” had panache. The best thing you can say about Roland Emmerich’s “Midway” — a bland as hell, Walmart-ready, torpedo-by-numbers retelling of World War II’s most decisive naval battle — is that it doesn’t completely dehumanize the Japanese characters. In fact, Admiral Yamamoto and his men are almost (but not quite) three-dimensional compared to the human cartoons on the American side, a bunch of generic lugs who talk like they’re from Brooklyn, act like they want just wandered off the set of “Anchors Aweigh,” and feel like real people in name only.

It’s a shame, because this movie sometimes evinces a genuine respect for men on both sides of the fight, and for the courage required to die for a country whose faraway leaders will never make that sacrifice; “Midway” is nothing if not an aggressively basic reminder that America is only as strong as the people who are willing to protect it with their lives. Alas, those people deserve a far better tribute than what Emmerich has scraped together for them here.