Pearl Harbor (2001)
User ReviewsReview this title
To borrow and paraphrase from that great orator and writer, Winston Churchill, 'Never in the annals of human endeavor have so many witnessed the butchering of history by so few.'
I remember a story on a national morning TV news program that was a major promotion for the debut of this huge waste of celluloid. This interview/promotion took place aboard the aircraft carrier that's on permanent display in New York harbor. The major male stars, Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett, along with Producer Jerry Bruckheimer were interviewed by one of the hosts of this TV morning news show. In this interview, all three claimed that they enjoyed talking to veterans and listening to their stories. Well, I don't think they were paying much attention to those vets.
Or at least they decided to ignore reality when it interfered with their script!
Some historical facts that got in the way of Bruckheimer's blockbuster: It doesn't matter how simple WWII aircraft are compared to today's jets. Ask any pilot and he/she can tell you that you just don't go from flying American P-40 fighters one day, go to England and jump into the cockpit of a British Spitfire fighter and start shooting down HIGHLY EXPERIENCED, COMBAT VETERAN German PILOTS the next! (I don't care that even a blind pig can find the occasional acorn!) Each aircraft's handling qualities, e.g., speed, max altitude, rate of climb, rate of dive, turning, etc., are different. In other words, a pilot has to be TRAINED on that aircraft! To ask us to believe that Affleck's character, who hadn't seen REAL aerial combat prior to England, can shoot down experienced German fighter pilots the VERY FIRST TIME HE STRAPS ON A 'SPIT' is not only LAUGHABLE, it's insulting to the REAL pilots who fought and died in the 'Battle of Britain.'
The famous 'Doolittle Raid' took place on April 18, 1942 - a scant 4-1/2 months after the Pearl Harbor attack. Yet, we're supposed to believe that not only can Affleck's character IMMEDIATELY master unfamiliar aircraft (forgetting that a B-25 is a MULTI-ENGINE BOMBER no less for the moment!), apparently so can Josh Hartnett's character. It took EXPERIENCED B-25 bomber crews about that long to train for this extremely hazardous raid on Japan (January 1942 to April 18, 1942). No way in the world could P-40 fighter pilots be chosen to fly B-25 bombers in the 'Doolittle Raid!'
What I don't understand is that since Bruckheimer was obviously not interested in historical accuracy, in addition to Affleck's character's superhuman abilities of shooting down EXPERIENCED Germans pilots over England and BATTLE TESTED Japanese pilots over Pearl Harbor, rescuing sailors trapped in half-sunk ships, giving blood, and eventually taking the war to the Japanese in the 'Doolittle Raid,' why didn't Bruckheimer just have Affleck's character pump-out and raise the Arizona and single-handedly save her crew from their watery grave. Thank goodness there are some things even Bruckheimer can't swallow!
The special effects and battle scenes were great! Yeah, I know. Bruckheimer wasn't shooting a documentary. BUT, if you want an entertaining, more historically accurate dramatic portrayal of the events of, and leading up to, December 7th, 1941, stick with Tora! Tora! Tora! That movie is based upon the work of a historian considered by many to be the top of his field, Gordon Prange. Although Dr. Prange wrote many books on this topic, I believe his book, "At Dawn We Slept" was the basis of Tora! Tora! Tora! As a MEDAL OF HONOR winner, General Doolittle, and the heroic pilots he led on that raid deserved better than the way they were portrayed in Bruckheimer's schlock film. Despite the romance scenes, and when it was filmed, "30 Seconds Over Tokyo" is a much more accurate depiction of the famous "Doolittle Raid." At least it's more believable!
Affleck, Hartnett, and Bruckheimer may have listened to WWII veterans, but they did not hear. They did not learn. Nor did they appreciate the immeasurable costs paid by those members of this country's 'greatest generation.'
The only things I recognized as historically accurate about this film were: 1) the US was attacked at Pearl Harbor by Japan on December 7th, 1941; 2) the US Army did fly P-40s; 3) British pilots did do combat with Germans in the skies over England during the 'Battle of Britain;' 4) some British pilots did crash into the Channel; 5) Cuba Gooding's character, a black mess cook, DID shoot down Japanese planes even though he received no gunnery training; and 6) Doolittle did lead a force of 16 US Army B-25 bombers from the carrier USS Hornet against Japan. I can't speak to any accuracies about the nurses, or their quick thinking, e.g., writing with lipstick on the foreheads of the wounded.
The only way I'd own a copy of this film is if someone accidentally gave it to me as a gift.
The writing is ludicrous. It's a series of situations and set pieces strung together without a single regard given to character development or even plausibility. The acting is beneath contempt. Ben Affleck should never have been let anywhere near this film, and in the "love" scenes between himself and Kate Beckinsdale, it appears patently obvious that the actors completely detest each other. The attack scene is filmed and edited like a Saturday morning cartoon. And...excuse me...in real life Pearl Harbor was a DEFEAT. There was none of the stupid garbage with slick fighter jocks dogfighting Japanese Zeros. This film makes it look like a victory! And, excuse me...FDR could not stand up by himself. The scene in the cabinet room where he rises from his chair was simply laughable.
This film is beyond bad. It is insulting. It's a 6-year-old's coloring book passed off as history. Aside from that, it's probably the limpest, shoddiest big-budget "epic" produced in the last 10 years. The day it opened in theaters was truly a day of infamy.
In 2001 Michael Bay spent $132 MILLION dollars to film the event, and ran four minutes longer.
Even taking into account 60 years of inflation, the Japanese did a better job with a smaller budget...
Due to the ten line minimum submission this may be too short - but sometimes less is more.
20th Century Fox already did the Pearl Harbor attack in Tora Tora Tora - and did an excellent job. Michael Bay should have left well enough alone.
However, this is just not so. While extra care was given for the attack scene (I think WWII veterans would have crucified the producers if this had not been so), the other smaller details give the watcher a false sense of history. For one thing, no Red Cross Army nurses died (as they portray Betty dying). Also, no US soldier would go to Britain to join the Royal Air Force. The US Army Air Force had a unit (the Flying Tigers) in Britain helping out the RAF, but no US soldier would actually leave his unit to join another country's military (regardless of allies). It would mean a total US military discharge AND rejecting US citizenship. Ben Affleck's character could not have done that, especially when he was not a British citizen.
Also, Ben and Josh Hartnett's characters were fighter pilots. NOT Bomber pilots. The two are very separate things. Ben and Josh could never switch from being fighter pilots to bombers for Doolittle's Raid. The Army Air Force had pilots for all kinds of missions, and fighter pilots stayed fighter pilots, and bombers stayed bombers. Continuing with Doolittle's raid, it did NOT turn the tide for the Americans. It was not a military victory, and little in Tokyo was affected. It only served as propaganda to help the US citizens on the homefront (also, Doolittle's Raid was long after Pearl Harbor and not a revenge mission). Watch this movie if you're into sappy love stories, but NOT if you want to learn about Pearl Harbor (and/or the Doolittle Raid). Few historical facts can be gleaned from this movie.
The film is really divided into three parts. The first part, the love story, the two best friends and of course the girl. Then one hour later, develop a love triangle, wow, Hollywood has never seen anything like that before! (sarcasm intended) Also add several less important characters and bit parts that you hope will die in the bombing sequence that you know is coming, unfortunately, only one of them does.
Finally, the second hour, the bombing sequence begins. It's good to begin with, its good fun, the only part of the movie thats bearable. The special effects are great along with good fight sequences. Unfortunately, they even managed to spoil that with a ridiculous scene in which the two main characters fly around and save Pearl Harbor by shooting down two pilots.
Now you think that with the bombing sequence over, the end of the film is near, you're just about to get your coat and run out of the movies, when all of a sudden, you're subjected to one of the most pointless hours I have ever seen in a movie, in which the survivors, and only the survivors for some reason, fly over to Japan to get revenge. Oh dear. At this point, the movie has completely lost the plot, the acting is horrendous, the editing and direction terrible, and I have lost interest in all the characters. The story has been completely suffocated with the ridiculous sub-plots.
Avoid this film at all costs. Three hours of pointless clichés, cheesy scenes, unlikeable characters, historical inaccuracies and the worst direction I have ever seen. This film could have been so more, or less.
It seems to be more preoccupied with portraying America in the best light than accurately depicting the facts. The love story is out of place and pathetic.
At the end of the film is a 5 minute rant about why America is supposedly great; it actually says "after pearl harbour all America knew was victory", obviously the writers had never heard of Vietnam.
The only good aspect was the special effects, but they could never make up for this absolutely dire film.
My only regret (apart from wasting 2 and a half hours of my life watching the film) is that I can't award zero out of 10!
"Ma, you know who else lived through World War II besides grandpa? I did", I screamed at her from outside the house, while still getting down from the cab that I took from the cinema. What a great movie it was. The images of the gusty air-force combats and the invasions are still in my head, the sounds of the thunderous cannons still roar in my ears, and the gentlemanliness of the army men, with their uniforms and planes, still leave me grasping for more, as did the jam-packed theater.
Why did it have to get over? Why couldn't it last just a tiny bit longer? The sky high aerobatics, the machine guns, the fighter jets, the discipline, the pretty army women, the well ironed suits, the line of command, and the bigger than life climax, I adored it all. The chemistry between the leads is something to look forward too. The unconventional romantic relationship and the intimate scenes between the lovers spice up the movie and give a new twist to the plot.
If you want to feel the thrill and the emotion of being at war and love at the same time, of being away from home, of being behind enemy lines, and of leading your country to victory, go and watch Michael Bay's extraordinary take on the events leading up to and involving thereof one of the most disastrous catastrophes of the era.
Michael Bay never misses a chance to leave his viewers awestruck with his action packed works, with strands of deadly love. And he did it again with Pearl Harbor. The movie, though titled Pearl Harbor, is much more than that just the bombings. The war is twofold: between countries and between hearts. Army Air Corps, Affleck and Hartnett, thick as thieves, become the target of a deadly love triangle, with the potential of encompassing their friendship, falling in love with the ever-pretty Evelyn, which results in a love-hate relationship being fired up between the two captains. But Bay has something new to offer rather than the clichéd. Their friendship is tested when they are sent off to war together, resulting in their hatred for each other ultimately turning, or rather returning, into a brotherly bond. The climax is sort of depressing, but that is overcome by the patriotism of winning the war.
The motion picture is certainly not for the faint hearted. It is a mixed bag of emotions, and it is one that has many holes in it. The movie takes its audience through a variety of different emotions, starting at a high with love and patriotism, progressing to hatred and anger, and then ending into sorrow and dismal. The movie throughout, holds its viewers onto their seats and unleashes a surprise, a twist, every few frames, bounding them to think on what may follow next.
Okay - I could almost accept the hokey old love triangle romantic plot - certainly the stars are great to look at - but the dialogue really sucked: "I don't think I'll ever look at another sunset without thinking of you". Please! And all those hero shots from the ground, and the slow motion love bits, and the soppy music, and the eternal sunsets...
But what this film really needed was an editor! The climax of the film is the attack on Pearl Harbor - an American defeat. But it seems the film-makers decided that the American audience wouldn't be satisfied with this - and so the movie grinds on and on for another hour or so dramatising a revenge attack on Japan. And we're supposed to believe that this attack was fought by the very same guys who were on the ground in Hawaii. I mean we all know that America won the war in the end, so did we really need this long epilogue?
Personally I'd cut out all the Roosevelt and the Japanese high command scenes and concentrate on the experiences of the people on the ground at Pearl Harbor. The Japanese stuff was all completely unbelievable anyway. The sad loss would be the superb performance of Jon Voight as Roosevelt - but maybe they could make another film about him. I'd also end the film after the attack at Pearl Harbor, as the survivors pick up the pieces. So why not have a shorter Director's Cut - a novel concept - that makes this film the great film it could have been. If you like I'll lend the scissors!
Then I started reading the reviews. "Overdone" was a word I came across a lot. And there were the comments from the other girls at school: "Oh it's soooooooooooooooooooo sad! It's just the most beautiful love story and oh my GAWD does Josh Harnett ever look hot!" At this point I started to worry. I even vowed that I would not see the movie. Oh Lord, how I wish I'd stuck to that vow.
First of all, this movie should not have been called "Pearl Harbor." It has next to nothing to DO with the battle of Pearl Harbor. Would anyone like to know how much time that battle takes up in this three hour monster? About twenty minutes.
Secondly, it shouldn't have been marketed the way it was. The trailers for this movie made it appear that it would be about the battle and the people who fought in it. Nope! God forbid there be anything useful and historically accurate like that. No, what we have here folks is a soap opera. It's kind of like "From Here to Eternity" (great movie) only horrible. Here is our basic plot: Best friends in the air force. One goes off to Europe to fly with the RAF and is supposedly killed, only the audience knows he's not really dead because he got top billing. "Dead" guys buddy has affair with "dead" guy's girlfriend. She gets pregnant. "Dead" guy shows up to announce that he's not really dead. They fight. Oh, and then the Japanese pull a surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, but who cares?! Obviously not the writers, director, producer, or anyone who could have stopped this blasted thing from being released.
There's so much more I could say, but I do have a word limit here. The one good thing, in my opinion, is the way the Japanese are portrayed here. Not demonized as one thinks they'd be, but shown for what they were: human beings.
In closing, I want to say that I have done my homework on Pearl Harbor. I've read the books, I've seen TV specials, and I've interviewed a survivor from the Oklahoma. I can say with all honesty that this movie is a complete insult to the event and all the men who died there, and if this is all that the American public cares to know about something that was so important to our history, we are in deep trouble.
The film as a whole is brilliantly written; it's not too soppy with the romance and not too over the top with pure action. People are saying that it's just too much shoot 'em up and too many explosions. Well, I got news for you... They're at war! Bombs will go off and guns will be fired from all places possible. If you want to see a movie that's not so explosive, watch Twilight.
To me personally, character development is very important in a movie and I believe Pearl Harbor succeeded with this. I grew attached to individuals and felt vulnerable as a member of the audience at the best of times. Absolutely superb watch, and I'd highly recommend it! If you're offended by a film not being entirely accurate, steer clear and stick to your documentaries.
1.) First off the movie is way too damn long, I mean Jesus I would have to spend have a day to watch it so the makers failed to edit many scenes that didn't need to be in the film.
2.) Historical inaccuracies are everywhere. Little and small. I read a list of all the inaccuracies in this movie, I couldn't possibly write all of them down in this review that's how bad this film is. If you'd like to know what these inaccuracies are checkout Wikipedia and search Pearl Harbor (film). Trust me the list of historical inaccuracies are long.
3.) Waste of talent: Tom Sizemore, Jon Voight, Alec Baldwin, and Jennifer Garner are given relatively minor roles in the film.
4.) This is what really upset me. The movie is called Pearl Harbor, I thought it would be about the events leading up to that faithful day. in fact it's about a cheesy love triangle, A LOVE TRIANGLE! this entire movie is centered around three stupid & shallow characters surronded by characters just as annoying as they are. The Pearl Harbor attack doesn't come till the middle of the movie. there isn't much attention given to the events that lead to the attack, just these cliché characters. Pearl Harbor just seemed to get in the way. Goddam this is like a cheesy Soap Opera or a World War II version of Titanic. I mean how much more Cliché can we get?
5.) The Pearl Harbor Attack was a n intense action packed sequence, but even that was incredibly flawed. First off Why is there a Pee-wee baseball game being played so early in the mourning? second when Hartnett & Affleck get up in the air it seems like they shoot down about 20 planes, in reality the Japanese air losses where bare minimum. third there is too much emphasis on CGI effects. fourth this really made me laugh when a group of about 5 men went up into a tower and shot down an enemy fighter with rifles and automatic rifles ..... right... Damn they must have had good accuracy.
6.) Kenneth M. Taylor is a legendary hero of Pearl Harbor. He was one of two pilots who got into fighter planes and began engaging & shooting down Japanese planes. The other pilot was his friend George Welch, Basically Affleck & Hartnett were depicting them. Taylor called this film "A Piece of trash, over-sensationalized & distorted". This was a man who was there and did these heroic feats so you can't discard his opinion. This is proof that this film is a disgrace to our veterans.
Overall this movie was a huge disappointment & let down. If you are gonna do a movie based about Pearl Harbor then do it right! seriously! thousand of good men died that day so tragically in one of the most defining moments of American History and you wanna make a movie centered around fake characters and a cheesy love story. Michael Bay whether you realize this or not I think you disgraced a lot of WWII veterans. This film had so much potential and ultimately failed to deliver something spectacular that could have had a major impact in film. My recommendation, watch Tora!Tora!Tora! a far more faithful retelling of the Pearl Harbor attack. Pearl Harbor had a budget, but at least Tora!Tora!Tora! has heart.
The bombing of Pearl Harbor was one of the most shocking moments in the history of America, and it makes interesting subject matter to be told on on screen. Although this movie does manage to paint the horrors that took place during that fateful day, this film does suffer from some flaws that director Michael Bay is often known. Now with a war movie being directed by Bay, audience should go into this movie expecting abundance of explosions and this film plenty of these during the 40-minute action sequences that takes place during the attack on Pearl Harbor. The entire scene is very well done and the special effects are great. The scene really captures the grim details of what the civilians of Pearl Harbor suffered through as we watch countless of people killed from gunfire and drowning, as well as others who suffer some gruesome injuries. This entire scene is quite difficult to watch and it really pulls at your heart strings. Now here is where the film falters. Along with the whole Japanese attack and its aftermath, audiences are treated with a romantic subplot involving Josh Hartnett, Ben Affleck, and Kate Beckinsale that takes up a good portion of the film. What we get from this is poor acting and cheesy dialogue between Affleck and Beckinsale, including a line "I love you so much it hurts", a line that is highly laughable and far too corny, especially when dealing with a war flick. The whole love story is not terrible, but definitely takes more than what is needed of the film. With the whole story, the film ends up running 183 minutes.
Pearl Harbor is certainly not one of the best war movies in Hollywood and definitely not the best of what Michael Bay has to offer. I feel that this could have done better if it was handled someone like Steven Spielberg who has been masterful with the World War II genre (Saving Private Ryan, Schindler's List). Overall, this is film is not terrible. Despite some of its flaws, it still works and is entertaining to watch.
So I thought "Given all this, how bad can it be?".
The answer, unfortunately, is AWFUL. This may not be Hollywood at its worst, but it's pretty close.
I don't know the origin of the phrase "Titanic with bombs" for describing this film, but it's pretty apt. One difference is that Bay and Bruckheimer together don't add up to James Cameron. Both films feature trite, sappy, predictable love stories (with every chestnut in the Hollywood Cliché guide clearly in evidence) layered over a real-life, tragic event. However, although I don't particularly like Titanic, I have some respect for Cameron's success in reproducing the appearance of the RMS Titanic and the events of the Titanic sinking on screen. I am prepared to watch Titanic (while fast-forwarding over the love story bits) just to see the history parts.
Pearl Harbor fails this test. The portion of the film featuring the attack on Pearl Harbor comes off like a video game -- Lots of sound and fury, but no realism whatsoever. The problem here is that this is not only a real event, but an event of pivotal importance in the history of the United States. Worse yet, the event is still within living memory. How will we feel in 2061, when a director decides to make a movie about September 11, 2001, and casually re-arranges the events of that day to make the resulting film "more entertaining/more commercial/more appealing to mass audiences"? Do you feel sick even contemplating that possibility? That's how I suspect that veterans of the actual attack on Pearl Harbor feel about this movie. The late Brigadier General Kenneth Taylor, one of the pilots who did in real life what Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett portray on screen described the film as "a piece of trash...over-sensationalized and distorted."
Watch Tora Tora Tora instead. It's not perfect, but it's a pretty accurate telling of what really happened at Pearl Harbor. (Tellingly, Tora, Tora, Tora used veterans like General Taylor as advisers to make sure that they got most of the details right). A newer film with improved special effects is not necessarily a better film.
Equally hilarious is the complete lack of historical accuracy, from the Germans bombing DOWNTOWN London (and where would this be, pray tell?), to the fact that Hawaii is populated by nothing but rich Caucasians, dressing their kids as angels and chasing them down hills in slow motion. Also of course absolutely nobody smokes, despite the fact that this is the frickin' '40s. Not to mention the physically impossible flying scenes during Bays action scenes, apparently an intended homage to Star Wars - or so they would be if Bay's direction didn't immediately disintegrate into a rampageous helter-skelter mess of atrocious takes, clumsy acting, irritatingly gut-wrenching hand-held camera wiggling, and music-video editing.
The movie's politically correct portrayal of the Japanese should also not be missed, planning their attack with toy boats in a little pool while lamenting the unfortunate fact that they have to attack the United States. "A brilliant man would find a way not to fight a war", Yamamoto says, "but they have given us no choice. Due to some economical reason or other, possibly to do with trade routes or something, we must attack the U.S., even though we really don't want to. In fact, we love America and are really, really sorry for having to attack it. Please accept my most sincere apologies for this heinous act. [*starts sobbing*] Oh, why? WHY must we do this? WHHHHYYYYTY!"
FDR: "You see, because I can get out of my wheelchair and walk, our sneak attack on Japan will be successful!"
FDR's advisors: "You truly make a persuasive argument, Mr. President!"
If this has not convinced you to watch this hilarious comedy, nothing will.
You can see why they made this film - a major emotional centrepiece, around which a Hollywood love story between beautiful people occurs; sounds like another Titanic right? I do not understand why that film became so very popular and showered with awards, but I do understand why Pearl Harbour did so badly critically (but it sadly still did make several hundred million dollars - something the gloaters tend to forget!). The good thing about the film is the action - it seems to be the only thing that Michael Bay can really do well. You can see where the money was spent and it is pretty exciting. The only reservation I had about it was that Bay cannot help but deliver the action like Bad Boys rather than Saving Private Ryan - in other words the sheer horror of the attack is lost in a sea of glossy special effects, slick camera movements and big bangs, it looks great but it is difficult to really be shocked or moved in the way that the events really should have. Sure, the shots of bodies and the hospitals sort of bring it home but you can't help but feel the majority of the action is rather soulless. Of course, very like Bay, he doesn't know when to end and after the attack he follows the action to America's retaliation - where Rafe `shows 'em what for' - here the action is silly and just far too simplistic for the subject involved.
I think it was the other `qualities' the film has that made it such a hated film. The romance that is supposed to engage us with the three main characters is horribly banal and only serves to make the film's first half feel significantly longer than it really is. The romance fails for two big reasons. First of all, there are zero characters; they are plodding cardboard creations with all-American qualities and strong jaw lines. They were never real people to me and I swear this film could have ended with each of them being torn to bloody shreds by Japanese bulldogs and I would have struggled to care less - even the almost constant use of Hans Zimmers' score can't make this emotionally involving. Secondly the script is a woefully inept piece of rubbish that makes the Telebubbies feel like the pinnacle of modern writing. At best the lines just seem clunky and unnatural; at worst they are heavy with cliché and just smack of lazy writing - when I'd heard Afflect shout `get me in a plane NOW' for the third time or Hartnett announce `world war 2 has started' (oh - so it didn't in 1939?) I was already starting to feel my ears bleed. Basically if it is not all clichéd tough talk then it is corny romance dialogue - neither work and only serve to further destroy the foundations of an already weak film.
The acting fits perfectly with the standard of characterisation and dialogue and is roundly average despite having a pretty impressive list of names in the cast. Affleck is not a leading man and nothing he has done since Good Will Hunting has convinced me that he can carry a film: like it or not, DiCaprio was part of Titanic's success - Affleck is part of Pearl Harbour's failing. He is nothing more than a rugged face, square jawed hero type American boy - the only silver lining to the film is that at least a good script wasn't wasted on his flat and uninvolving delivery. Hartnett is no better but least is pretty to look at; it's just a shame that that is all he is. Beckinsale is a nonentity who is given nothing to do and therefore does almost nothing. Why (or how) these two men fell for her was never made clear. Gooding Jr is so poorly used that I wondered why the film even bothered to keep him in it. He is poorly fitting to the period (talking in modern ethnic clichés - a further sign of lazy writing) and he exists to give us a vague focus on the ships and also be the first black soldier to get a medal (`but not the last' the film reassuringly confirms). As poorly used as they are, at least it is interesting to see faces like Jennifer Garner, Dan Aykroyd, Adam Baldwin, Sizemore, Voight, Tagawa, Everett, Diehl, Coates and Fichtner. The only shame is that most of them have little to do and that some of them just seem really out of place (Aykroyd and Tagawa in particular).
Overall, compared to the mix of spiteful or unfairly adoring reviews that are around, this might seem a balanced one but understand that I really do consider this a waste of film and time. Bay does the action with style but sadly missing the soul that the situation required. The romance is awful and is a major problem since this was supposed to be our foundation and the script shows a complete inability to develop characters or put anything other than clichéd dialogue into their mouths.
So little time was spent on the actual battle and the memorable instances within it that one wondered if they had even bothered to research it. Heck, they couldn't even bother to take out the modern US navy destroyers still at the harbor during filming (with cgi)!
Don't bother with this film, it was horrible. Go rent Tora,Tora,Tora. An excellent and faithful reproduction of BOTH sides of the battle via a joint directorial effort and 2 production teams, melded into one strong movie.
There was just too much historical inaccuracy and fictional characters in the movie. The movie makes no mention of real life heroes George Welch and Kenneth Taylor, the pilots who actually flew over Pearl Harbor. They're instead replaced by two fictional characters.
The love triangle is the main focus of the movie, which is completely unnecessary and a waste of time. Kenneth Taylor, who died in November 2006, called this film "a piece of trash . . . over-sensationalized and distorted".
The USS Arizona did not jump a few feet into the air when it exploded. There is actual footage of the ship exploding, yet Bay made it more dramatic looking. Another obvious mistake is the A6M Zero, which are all painted green, resembling an army type (navy types were all grey when they attacked Pearl).
The Doolitte Raid was surprisingly included in the movie. Although the event is a response to the Pearl Harbor attack, I feel it is merely to give the American audience some relief that at least they get to see some payback. I wonder if Doolittle ever said he would do a 'kamikaze' if his B-25 was hit.
Of all the actors/actresses who starred in this movie, only Cuba Gooding Jr. delivered an outstanding performance as Doris Miller did shooting down two Japanese planes with only a machine gun. However, the actor was merely playing a supporting role and his actions in the movie was far different from what he did in reality.
The Director's Cut version does not change my opinion of this movie. Until a historically accurate & entertaining remake of Pearl Harbor has finally been formulated, I will remain frustrated and angered at Michael Bay's awful directing.
I hated this movie , it`s so full of anachronisms and cliches and I`m so glad everyone else has pointed them out , but the two ones that made me laugh were Josh Hartnett announcing " World War Two has just started " . Hey since the second world war started more than two years before in September 1939 you just know this is from an American ( Read Hollywood ) perspective , not that it was called " World War Two " for a considerable time afterwards , and the scenes where Gooding Jnr bellows " Yo who`s da man ? " Yo right on bro you zap those Jap mofos with your 90s street vocabulary . Most excellent dude
I did like the bit where Ben Affleck screams " Get me into a goddamn plane " because I thought the producers and screenwriter had used up every cliche in the book by that point. Nice to be proved wrong , though I don`t think I`ll be proved wrong when I say Affleck will never win an Oscar for his acting ability .
My heart had a nice little holiday when I found out this flopped both commercially and critically . Maybe now the Hollywood system can concentrate on making films with good scripts and little FX before they bankrupt themselves . Though having said that if anyone in Hollywood is thinking of making a blockbuster as ridiculous as this or TITANIC based on 9/11 I`d be quite happy to see Hollywood bankrupted
If Pearl Harbor is anything to go by then the American Navy was wholly populated by loud, obnoxious morons who spent their days courting empty-headed bimbos while drinking and whooping like some thief had come along in the night, scooped out their brains and trampled them under foot. The characters here are morons. Conversely, the Japanese come across as smart, resourceful and composed. They feel no need to hoot and holler, and they don't seem to be secretly ogling male bum cakes like the American characters do. They're entirely more likable. Oh, but what about the British? Well, they enjoy fellating beefy, horse-faced Americans a British pilot tells Affleck that if the States has more men like him then their enemies should soil themselves. Like I say, the Allied forces in this film are wretched.
But I do have to say that even the glorious Japanese forces have their bad moments. In a politically correct effort to 'humanise' them there's one bit where a Japanese officer melodramatically says that a truly brilliant man would find a way not to fight a war. And there's another bit where a Japanese pilot leans out of his plane and apparently warns some children of the impending carnage. It's an incredibly sappy moment. Although I'll change my opinion of said pilot if he was actually taunting the children and saying something like, "I'm going to kill your daddy."
Another piece of political correctness is the portrayal of Doris Miller (Cuba Gooding, Jr.). In one scene he even holds his white commanding officer while telling him how gosh darn great he his. But perhaps more insulting is the way he indulges in hooting and hollering as he shoots the Japanese down every American character in this film behaves like they're in the audience for some ghastly sitcom. I mean, it's one thing to have a fictional character act idiotically, but it's something else to belittle the efforts of a real person. And really, the character is totally superfluous. Everyone else in the film has some sort of connection to Affleck, Hartnett or Beckinsale, but Gooding exists separately. His inclusion is really just a sad concession to political correctness. His character exists only to prove to stupid right-wing Americans that there were actually black sailors who fought bravely. You know, just in case you're a Grade A moron and thought all the black sailors were hiding below decks eating fried chicken.
But far more offensive than the political correctness is the 'romance'. Really, the film is about as romantic as drunken masturbation. There's just not one iota of genuine feeling in the whole movie. And of course the whole thing is completely unbelievable. Oh, some horse-face falls in love, goes to England, is presumed dead, then his girlfriend shacks up with his best friend before horse-face returns, then horse-face's ex-girlfriend finds out she's pregnant with his best friend's child on the day of his resurrection, and then the best friend dies in battle and horse-face and ex-girlfriend shack up again and bring the child up together. Yeah, that sounds plausible.
But although the sequence of events is ridiculous, the scenes themselves are far worse. One of the worst is the courtship between Affleck and Beckinsale. She's a nurse, he's a pilot, and she passes him to fly because she thinks he has a cute arse and because he begs her not to take his wings. Then he turns into Inspector Clouseau and smacks his head on things and fires a champagne cork into his face. Somehow this is meant to endear us to him. The only thing I can say in response is that it's a shame it wasn't a gun equine-features accidentally shot himself with.
However, I wanted to turn the gun on myself when Affleck goes to England and we have to hear Beckinsale writing her letters. "Every night I look at the sunset and try and draw the last ounce of heat from its long day and send it from my heart to yours." Somewhere Fabio is nodding his head in approval. But there must be about a million sunsets in this film Bay has never met a visual cliché he didn't like.
And Beckinsale writes her letters while sitting on a beach in a bikini (with a flower behind her ear) as waves crash on the rocks beyond. How old is Michael Bay exactly? It's like its been directed by a 13-year old girl. And just how white are Beckinsale's teeth? They kept on distracting me. Teeth shouldn't be that white. They shouldn't look like someone's painted gloss on them. But I also hated the way that every establishing shot was some sort of swooping crane shot. Is Bay really that short on ideas? Well yeah, of course he is.
But what really makes me laugh is the way that Bay has compared this tripe to a David Lean film. Lean made romantic films that didn't make you want to wretch, romantic films that were written and directed with taste and style, romantic films that were literate and intelligent. Bay's film is none of these things. It's an infantile disasterpiece. It's a film where simpletons have teary intercourse in a parachute hanger; a film where two whooping morons almost single-handedly make the Japanese air force retreat; a film where FDR heroically rises to his feet to show what the American heart is capable of; a film where a dying man says he's cold and then symbolically hands his children over to his best pal; and a film where a bimbo with shockingly white teeth says, "Now I'm going to give Danny my whole heart but I don't think I'll ever look at another sunset without thinking of you." No film has done so much to dishonour the Allied forces.
Essentially this movie is trying to be both "Titanic" (romance with a historcial event as background) and "Saving Private Ryan" (strarly realistic miltary drama) at the same time. Basic summation of plot: Guy 1 falls in love with this woman. Guy 1 disappears and is presumed dead, so Guy 2 (Guy 1's friend) falls in the love with the woman too. Guy 1 later shows up again, creating an awkward moment. Pearl Harbor happens. The characters involve themselves. Dolittle's raid happens. Guy 1 or Guy 2 dies, leaving the other one to take care of the woman who is pregnant with Guy 1 or Guy 2's child.
If you wondering why I only spend one sentence on the event that's the title of the movie, good. I am wondering why the title event takes up only 20 minutes out of the 3 hours of this movie.
That 20 minutes, seeing the actual Pearl Harbor attack, is the only redeeming feature of this movie. Special effects and cinemtography realistically and graphically portray the actual attack. See those 20 minutes.
As for the rest of the movie...
The romance is poorly written, and completely untinteresting. And SLOW. Ben Affleck gives his most wooden perforamnce ever, and for him that's really saying something.
As for the historic events leading up to the attack, the historical figures are a tad too prescient, knowing way more than they possibly should (as if they read ahead in the script).
A really silly moment is when you see the Japanese attack plans... carved into granite. Not kidding, they actually are, and what looks more like a momument in a park than a military headquarters.
After the attack, you hear one of the stupidest lines in the entire movie: "I think World War II just started!" Ridiculous, in that nobody would ever say that in 1941. There is no World War I yet (it was still just called "The Great War") and the term World War II wasn't coined until after 1945 when it ended. It really breaks the illusion of being at the even that the last 20 minutes did such a good job at.
You see the charachters get involved in a rediculous unrealistic way (though actions were based on actual historcial events, though they're GREATLY exxagerated here). The movie isn't satisfied with ending at the aftermath of the Pearl Harbor attack, and moved right on to the Doolittle raid (after more boring attention to the romantic plot). Which leads to a predictable end after the raid (one of the 2 dies) in case you still care at this point.
Very slow moving, poorly written, boring movie. Except for the excellent 20 minutes of the attack, see that part then return this. Don't recommend you buy it.
The first hour-plus of "Pearl Harbor" is the dopey love triangle. Rafe McCawley (Affleck) goes to "downtown London" (no one says downtown -- it's known as Central London) to serve in the RAF as a fighter pilot. I don't know how, in one night, he was able to train to the point where he can not only fly a completely different aircraft, but shoot down a German bomber. Believing he is killed in action, his best friend Danny Walker (Josh Hartnett) comforts--and hooks with--his girlfriend Evelyn Johnson (Kate Beckinsale). The two men fight on the night of December 6th, and of course by the time the bombing starts they're best friends again.
The attack on Pearl Harbor: The action sequences were well directed and choreographed, but they too were loaded with historical mistakes for the sake of dramatic license. One thing done right was Dory Miller (Cuba Gooding, Jr.), the cook who shot down an enemy plane and was later awarded the Navy Cross. But I doubt the real Dory Miller jumped and hollered when he did it.
Then they include a scene or two with the Japanese fleet, which I guess is an attempt to give us both sides of the story, or to give the audience an enemy to hate. But Admiral Yamamoto was portrayed wrongly: he wasn't gung-ho about attacking Pearl Harbor, he lamented the decision.
The movie could have ended with Roosevelt's (Jon Voight) address to Congress -- and even *that* had mistakes in it -- but it dragged on for another hour with Dolittle's Raid over Tokyo. James Doolittle is played poorly by anti-war mouthpiece Alec Baldwin, who acts like a cheerleader rather than a military leader. And all of the sudden, Walker and McKawley are bomber pilots?
Now, contrast this with 1970's "Tora! Tora! Tora!" which is practically a history lesson disguised as a feature film; or even 1953's "From Here To Eternity," a smartly written and well acted love story set in November of 1941. "Pearl Harbor" tries to be both, but it fails miserably.
Pearl Harbor was a horrific tragedy, but this movie paints it as just another cool fight scene. Cuba Gooding Jr. is completely wasted as this one-dimensional bit part which he overacts anyway. Also, at the end of the movie, when Hartnett gets shot, he's basically being crucified (look at the bits of wood he's attached too). Just another offensive, pretentious factor in this completely ridiculous excuse for a film. And when Hartnett got shot, I actually cheered. A movie is very special when it get's you to root for the Nazis.
It's offensive and terrible, don't see it. It's three hours of historical inaccuracy, BS metaphors, sappy messages and terrible acting. Go watch Tora! Tora! Tora! instead.
Roosevelt never demonstrated to his cabinet how he struggled to walk again.
In the attack scene, the Japanese planes fly over Spruance class destroyers and Perry class Fast Frigates. These are ships built in the 70's & '80's Near the end of the film, Navy nurses are being awarded the Purple Heart. this is a medal awarded to armed forces personnel wounded in battle. I don't recall seeing any nurse wounded. And no pilot would ever play "chicken" in a military aircraft
While the earlier movie version of Pearl Harbor, "Tora, Tora, Tora" is done in a documentary style it stays true to the myriad real-life characters and is so well acted by a rich cast of veteran actors. Mr.'s Bay and Wallace could take a lesson from earlier movies like "Tora,Tora, Tora and the classic "30 Seconds Over Tokyo". The latter does have a corny love-story at it's heart but is also a terrific drama and action adventure too that is respectful of the amazing couraqge of those heroes involved.
And as far as that central love triangle of "30 Seconds...", we do have to remember the time period it was done in. What might seem dated now was quite meaningful then to the thousands of men that went off to war and the women who were left behind to keep the nation's economy going and support the country and the troops. The love story as depicted in "Pearl Harbor" has none of the vital intensity of the earlier film and the love triangle is just unnecessary.
Interesting is the fact that despite the main sell of the film which was it's amazing special-effects; this even suffers in comparison to one key scene in ""30 Seconds...". Compare the scenes in both movies where the first pilot successfully takes off under the required distance needed to safely get off the eventual aircraft carrier. The 1942 version looks real while in the Michael Bay film we see the pilots cheering as the plane passes over the line and doesn't even leave the ground in the shot!
Cuba Gooding gives the best performance of the film portraying real-life hero, Doris Miller. The inclusion of Miller as a supporting character was the best idea that the screenwriter had and Gooding as usual, turns in an excellent performance. Other good performances in the film are; Tom Sizemore reprising his excellent Private Ryan performance as a tough soldier and Jon Voight's game effort as Pres. Roosevelt.
Shameful in the film is the treatment and portrayal of the Japanese who are treated as caricatures. The wonderful Mako is wasted in his portrayal Admiral Yamamoto. His famous "..waking a sleeping giant." line is done as a throw-away. Yamamoto was such an extra-ordinary person that even the American pilot who shot him down and killed him during the war later came to revere him for his intelligence, honor and vision. There is even the element of the mystical about Yamamoto. He was reported to have had a premonition about his death and on the day he made his ill-fated plane trip, he purposely put on the dress uniform one would wear for a funeral.
Ben Afleck and Kate Beckinsale are weak as the main characters. Josh Hartnett, a good actor, just seems whiny. In the face of all that's going on-- you feel like, who cares about these three! What a shame, a waste of money. One more film where special effects are relied upon to carry the film. Just imagine if 1/10 of the effort that was put into the special effects was put into the story itself. It would have been a more worthy memorial to our fallen and living heroes of Pearl Harbor. as "Saving Private Ryan" was to the fallen and living heroes of D-Day.