I made a resolution not to see this movie because I guessed it would be hard to improve on Tora, Tora, Tora; Pearl; and From Here to Eternity. I knew I would be disappointed. I had not read the reviews, but my wife had, and said they were mostly neutral to slightly negative. Why? Because the historical accuracy of the film was questioned.
But we wanted to do something different. Going to a movie now day's is.
A scene from Pearl Harbor. From producer Jerry Bruckheimer, producer/director Michael Bay, and screenwriter Randall Wallace. Photo by: Andrew Cooper, SMPSP (C) 2001, Touchstone Pictures.
The first hour and one half is a painfully boring love story between Ben Affleck and Kate Bakensale, a Navy nurse, with lots of other Navy nurses, and other aviators, having a wonderful time in pre war NYC. The musical scores are altered so they sounded like some current 20 year old's idea of how the music might have sounded back then, but didn't. The same is true of the nurses' hair styles, makeup and, costumes which were overly exaggerated. So is the cinematography which was mostly enlarged close-ups of two dewy-eyed people or their bigger than life automobiles. The 40's dialog was non-existent.
After about one hour of this, Affleck leaves his love to go to England and fight with the Eagle Squadron. Shortly thereafter, his Navy nurse girlfriend, Bakensale, is transferred to Honolulu. Once everyone is located, Affleck gets shot down and presumably killed. You can guess what happens later. His love Kate, without one show or remorse or mourning, promptly takes up with his best friend. None of the girls I knew back in the late '40s and early '50s would have behaved that badly so soon. Sex was a very big deal. I'm no prude, I was single in the late '60's, early '70 s, the hey day, of free love without disease. My point is the director has no sense of the era he is trying to portray. I was ready to leave then, but my wife was a holdout for the 7 DEC attack.
THE WAR SCENES: (few and far between)
Affleck in England: I felt these scenes were pretty realistic and couldn't fault the flying. The planes were real or real replicas of Spitfires, Hurricanes, and ME 109's with plenty of canned WW II B&W Arial footage.
PEARL HARBOR: The computer generated scenes of WW II warships and planes were very realistic with the exception of the Japanese planes which were painted to look too new with a gloss they never had. All we threw up at them were P 40's against what I took to be Zekes and Mitsubishi's. Some of the Japanese aircraft looked like modified AT 6's with a fixed gear configuration added. Another contnuing anoyance was the nurses who were rarely seen in uniform even while in the hospitals or on duty.
Why the film makers had to include, and continuously show a nest of real Spruance class destroyers, for the action scenes is beyond me. Even to the uninitiated, they had to look out-of-place. I also didn't see the need to use angled deck aircraft carriers for the same reason. Flames, excessively huge explosions, hurling bodies, and cars galore. The capzie sinking, of what may have been the Arizonia, was imaginatively realistic.
HISTORICAL ACCURACY: There was little history painted. Mostly flashbacks to real WW II news footage, and some added scenes showing pretty much the known facts about the political and diplomatic disagreements leading to war. The whole movie lacks a meaningful story line so why pick on this one defficiency.
BOTTOM LINE OR BOTTOMS UP: We didn't stay for the final hour. Why? Sophomoric dialog, uninteresting characters, with occasional interesting footage of old War Birds and vintage ships, with new class ships interspersed throughtout. But overall a most serious yawn.
Really makes you wonder how they can spend so much money putting out a product like this?
If you must go, try arriving one and one half hours late and then email the movies ending to us to publish.