Pearl Harbor

"OK"

Pearl Harbor Review


There's a point in Pearl Harbor when Cuba Gooding Jr. leaps into a battleship's gun turret and starts shooting down Japanese planes while hell rages around him. It's a dramatic moment... until you realize that it's that "Show me the money!" guy from Jerry Maguire, shooting CGI bullets at a CGI plane... and you are reminded once again just how phony everything you've seen in Pearl Harbor has been.

Ironically, this incident, where ship's cook Dorie Miller took charge and shot back during America's worst hour on December 7, 1941, is just about the only true event to be found in the entire, oppressive three-hour film. (And our producers are quick to remind us of just how ripped-from-history this little vignette is. Never mind that Gooding has a pitiful excuse for a role with maybe five minutes of screen time.)

After more than a year of hype, Pearl Harbor finally hits theater screens this Memorial Day weekend, anxious to repeat that Titanic experience, by throwing us a love story set in the most inhospitable of locations. In Titanic, of course, it was a sinking ship. Here, it's in the middle of a military base while the bombs are dropping around the smoochie lovebirds.

The trailers have been coy with the plot, and I'll do my best to keep the various twists secret (except for that whole Japanese invasion bit... sorry). Pretty boy Rafe (Ben Affleck) and his scruffy best friend Danny (Josh Hartnett) grow up on a farm, dreaming of taking to the skies in the Air Force. They get their wish when they enlist in 1940, and as Rafe prepares to ship out, he falls madly in love with Evelyn (Kate Beckinsale), half nurse, half pin-up girl.

Rafe, "a slow reader" but damn if he doesn't look good in uniform, volunteers to serve in the British air force, surprising Evelyn and Danny, who head for the sunny, peaceful shores of Hawaii's Pearl Harbor naval base to "sit out" the war in Europe. While Rafe fights the Nazis, our other pals soak up some rays.

After much gnashing of teeth, we're thigh-deep in a love triangle. But wouldn't you know it? Just as the Titanic began to sink halfway through the film, the first bomb is dropped on Pearl Harbor at 1 hour, 30 minutes into Pearl Harbor. 35 minutes later, the siege is over, and we are left to contend with an iffy dénouement (which takes another 55 minutes to get resolved, as the U.S. plans its lame, first counterstrike).

Plot excepted, Pearl Harbor is a good-looking film. When the planes whoosh by we can almost feel the wind. When the bombs drop, we feel the shudder. And when lovable supporting characters get blown to bits, it's hard to suppress the waterworks.

However, anyone expecting a think piece on the war in the Pacific is going to be sorely disappointed. Unlike, say, Tora! Tora! Tora!, history gets short shrift in Pearl Harbor, as director Michael Bay's WWII for Dummies gives us laughably simplistic details about why the war with Japan was entered into. Bizarrely, yet in a blatant attempt to garner an international audience that is not offended in any way by the movie, the film virtually absolves Japan of any wrongdoing, excusing the sneak attack as their regrettable only option.

Thank God, at least, that we are mercifully spared the Saving Private Ryan and Titanic flash-forwards to a melodramatic, length-padding present. With a lame and drippy score courtesy of Hans Zimmer, there's plenty of sap already, thank you very much. As well, the film's few attempt at lightening things up garner few laughs, if ever.

Critics (myself included) are going to endlessly compare Pearl Harbor to Titanic, and for good reason. However, aside from the length and the love story, these are radically different pictures. Ultimately, Pearl Harbor is not a film made by a man fascinated with history (a la James Cameron), but rather a studio-manufactured tearjerker, with nothing left to chance.

Titanic was so opulent and obsessed with period detail it almost made you forget that Billy Zane can't act. Pearl Harbor is clearly the work of hundreds of computer experts dueling it out to see who can make the biggest explosion. Been there, done that, folks.

Titanic was a big risk that took guts to make. Pearl Harbor is just another step toward the Disneyfication of our collective memories, trying unsuccessfully to prey upon a resurgence of patriotism.

Titanic was epic, and it made you forget about the passage of time. Pearl Harbor is soulless and desperate in its cheesy attempt to appeal to women, running at three hours long mainly because it's all done in slow motion.

Which is funny, because the actual invasion in 1941 only lasted for less than two.

There are a couple of DVD releases of Pearl Harbor out now. The first is a handsomely-presented two-disc collection that features Dolby Digital and DTS soundtracks, plus the usual making-of documentaries and trailers. There's also a History Channel documentary, "Unsung Heroes of Pearl Harbor," that offers more reality than Michael Bay will ever be able to realize.

The other release is four whopping discs, heralded as "the most extensive exploration of moviemaking ever presented." The special features are too numerous to list, but highlights include three audio commentaries, tons of making-of features and behind-the-scenes footage, multi-angle features, the aforementioned History Channel documentary plus another one, a collectable booklet, and 60 new shots in the film. It's exhaustive and impressive... if only it came with a better movie.

The blood's not real, either.



Pearl Harbor

Facts and Figures

Genre: War

Run time: 183 mins

In Theaters: Friday 25th May 2001

Box Office USA: $197.8M

Box Office Worldwide: $449.2M

Budget: $140M

Distributed by: Touchstone

Production compaines: Jerry Bruckheimer Films, Touchstone Pictures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 2.5 / 5

Rotten Tomatoes: 25%
Fresh: 47 Rotten: 141

IMDB: 6.0 / 10

Cast & Crew

Director:

Starring: as Capt. Rafe McCawley, as Capt. Danny Walker, as Nurse Lt. Evelyn Johnson, Cuba Gooding Jr. as Petty Officer Doris Miller, as President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, as Lt. Col. James Doolittle, as Sgt. Earl Sistern, as Lt. Billy Thompson, as Lt. Anthony Fusco, as Lt. Red Winkle, as Nurse Betty Bayer, as Nurse Barbara, as Nurse Sandra, as Nurse Martha, as Lt. Gooz Wood, as Capt. Thurman, as Adm. Husband E. Kimmel, as Nishikura, Mako Iwamatsu as Adm. Isoroku Yamamoto, as Young Rafe, Reiley McClendonr as Young Danny, as Danny's Father, as Rafe's Father, as Training Captain, as Adm. Chester W. Nimitz

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Alice Through the Looking Glass Movie Review

Alice Through the Looking Glass Movie Review

This much more light-hearted sequel reinvigorates the franchise after Disney's quirky but murky 2010 reboot...

Love & Friendship Movie Review

Love & Friendship Movie Review

Acclaimed filmmaker Whit Stillman reunites the stars of his 1998 drama The Last Days of...

Money Monster Movie Review

Money Monster Movie Review

A sleekly made thriller with a sparky sense of humour, this is also a rare...

X-Men: Apocalypse Movie Review

X-Men: Apocalypse Movie Review

This closing chapter of the First Class trilogy falls into the same trap as The...

Sing Street Movie Review

Sing Street Movie Review

A buoyant celebration of the power of music, this is the third blissfully entertaining musical...

Departure Movie Review

Departure Movie Review

Complex, dark and very moving, this British drama never makes things easy for the audience,...

Everybody Wants Some!! Movie Review

Everybody Wants Some!! Movie Review

Richard Linklater loosely follows on from two of his most acclaimed films with this lively...

Advertisement
Our Kind of Traitor Movie Review

Our Kind of Traitor Movie Review

John le Carre's novel is adapted with plenty of inventive style into a remarkably personal...

The Angry Birds Movie Movie Review

The Angry Birds Movie Movie Review

There's nothing particularly memorable about this frantic animated romp, which adapts the iconic phone-app game...

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising [Bad Neighbours 2] Movie Review

Neighbors 2: Sorority Rising [Bad Neighbours 2] Movie Review

While it's amusing and sometimes very funny, there's an air of desperation about this sequel...

Florence Foster Jenkins Movie Review

Florence Foster Jenkins Movie Review

Although this comedy-drama seems to have been written specifically to give Meryl Streep a chance...

I Saw the Light Movie Review

I Saw the Light Movie Review

Writer-director Marc Abraham gets ambitious with this biopic about iconic country music star Hank Williams,...

Captain America: Civil War Movie Review

Captain America: Civil War Movie Review

After the formulaic thrills of The Winter Soldier and Age of Ultron, Marvel's Avengers were...

Son of Saul Movie Review

Son of Saul Movie Review

From Hungary, this year's Oscar-winning foreign film is a remarkably fresh take on the Holocaust...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.