Pearl Harbor
Japan attacks! Ben and Josh arrive to save the world...
dir Michael Bay
scr Randall Wallace
with Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett, Kate Beckinsale, Ewen Bremner, Cuba Gooding Jr, Alec Baldwin, Jon Voight, James King, Michael Shannon, William Lee Scott, Greg Zola, Mako, Colm Feore, Tom Sizemore, Dan Aykroyd, William Fichtner
release US 25.May.01; UK 31.May.01
01/US 3h05
2 out of 5 stars
R E V I E W   B Y   R I C H   C L I N E
love and war Comparisons with Titanic are inevitable, so let's get them out of the way: This is a big-budget Hollywood movie turning a serious historical event into a massive blockbuster romance. But James Cameron at least had the smarts to start with an involving plot and characters--the sinking ship seems almost incidental to the powerful story. On the other hand, this film fabricates then grafts a contrived story onto history, which is conveniently altered where necessary. It's big, bold, inspiring and spectacular ... but it's also mind-numbingly stupid.

Rafe and Danny (Affleck and Hartnett) are best buddies from Tennessee with one ambition: to be army pilots. They get their wish, but America's refusal to enter WWII is bugging them--they want to see some action. Rafe falls for luscious nurse Evelyn (Beckinsale) and volunteers for service in the Battle of Britain. Meanwhile, the shy Danny gets shipped off to tranquil Honolulu along with Evelyn. Then Rafe's plane is shot down over the English Channel, and a Japanese admiral (Mako) plots a surprise attack on 7 December 1941.

The film's first 90 minutes exist basically to set up the love triangle and its obvious conclusion; the second 90 minutes include a nearly real time depiction of the Pearl Harbor attack and the aftermath, which ties up the love story in a nice big bow. The cast is OK--none of the leads ever commands the screen, even if they're perfectly watchable. The special effects are awesome and thrilling, and Bay does have flair with action sequences. But the dialog is appalling (the hackneyed approach even sabotages the clever big-name cameos), and story that strings it all together simply doesn't hold water. There are more "Uh, wait just a minute!" moments than I could count--plot turns that defy all logic and credibility. And even if the film does pay homage to the men who died, the story plays fast and loose with the facts and never even attempts to examine bravery, patriotism, military aggression or anything else. These momentous events have been dumbed down and sanitised for summer movie audiences, and that's unforgivable really.
violence, themes, language cert 12 29.May.01

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"Had to see this movie - it was Memorial Weekend and raining, and what else is there to do? Okay, again Titantic comes to mind. We know the end of this movie, so why not make it more interesting? It is not history class after all, and I have been to the Pearl Harbor Memorial, so I know the real facts - not every tiny detail or bit of trivia, but I do know what happened. I have to say I enjoyed this movie - a lot. I liked the romance triangle that made me want to see how this was going to end. And I felt it showed the proper chaos and extreme heroism that some were forced to display on that day. No one was expecting this - no one - and it had to have been insane during the attack! I watched an interview of a vet who survived the attack, and one comment he made is forever stuck in my head: 'The day it happened was not as bad as the day after - when we had to go in and get all the bodies.' I liked this movie and would recommend that you see it to remember a day in our history - but also remember that is is a movie, and not 100% historically accurate!" --Laurie T, Minneapolis 1.Jun.01

2001 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall