Directed by Michael Bay.
Written by Randall Wallace.
Starring Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett and Kate Beckinsale.
Release Year: 2001
Review Date: 5/28/01
I went over to the Uptown last night for the
11 PM showing of "Pearl Harbor" with Dave Bell, my roommate Chuck
and his fiancée Teresa, and Dave's friend Reggie. I go with my
brother and Reggie anywhere I can, to hear the laughter and
smack-talking that they provide whenever we see a movie that has the
chance to be spectacularly bad. Since all of you know the plot of
this film, who's in it and who it is by--the Jerry
Bruckheimer/Michael Bay teaming that brought you such "classics" as
"Bad Boys" and "Armageddon"—I will skip explaining it. Rather, I
will break the film down into three hours, the ridiculous length of
this film. Since many of you saw this over the weekend--and, will
go to see it whether I like it or not anyway--I AM GOING TO GIVE
AWAY COUNTLESS FACTS ABOUT THE FILM. So, if you like surprises,
stop reading now.
Hour One--Crock of Shit Love Story
I have to admit, the initial pairing of Raef
(Ben Affleck) and Evelyn (Kate Beckinsale) was fairly romantic,
halfway believable and lightly comic. The first half-hour of the
film covers how Raef and Evelyn meet and begin their courtship,
which takes place in January of 1941. When Raef has to leave to
help out the British war effort abroad, his goodbye sequence with
Evelyn felt real and this provided for some real tension (for about
four minutes) when Raef goes abroad and helps the RAF shoot down
Axis planes. But, when Raef gets shot down, you don't believe for
one second that he is dead, but you are anxious to see how Evelyn
will live her life...especially when she begins being courted by
Raef's best friend Danny (Josh Hartnett) about four months after
Raef's supposed death.
This is where the movie began to tailspin
for me. This love triangle business has nothing to do with anything
I care about if I go to see an explosion-filled war movie. The
lines spoken by Evelyn and Danny during this sequence are
hilariously poor; they fall into bed--oh, I'm sorry, fucking
parachutes--so quickly that you are laughing by the time Evelyn
ironically states to Danny the next day "Danny...I'm afraid we're
taking things too fast!!" Of course, when Raef comes home, he is
shocked to see that former love Evelyn has left him, and that his
best friend has just robbed him. This sequence was so boring that
it put Chuck, literally, to sleep.
Hour Two--Pearl Harbor
Friends, the meat-and-potatoes of "Pearl
Harbor" comes during the middle hour, which features the thrilling
attack by the Japanese--whoops again, the "Japs" or "Jap Bastards",
which is uttered a movie-record 155 times during this hour--on the
American base in Hawaii. The scenes that don't feature the love
triangle in the first hour on the Japanese planning of the attack
are very well done and interesting, showing the perspective of the
war committee that plans out the surprise invasion. Those pay off
here as Bay directs incredible action sequences depicting death and
chaos on the early morning of December 7, 1941.
And, while not as intense as things you will
find in "Platoon" or "Saving Private Ryan", the PG-13 violence in
this hour is sure to make you at least a little uncomfortable as you
watch numerous shiphands, Navy officers, pilots and civilians get
ripped apart by bombs, torpedoes, and Zero gunfire...all before they
even fire a shot back at the invading planes. And, how about those
explosions? Wow, wow, wow. On the Uptown's screen, it was a
beautiful display of mayhem. The chase-plane camerawork--one has to
assume all of those shots were added on a computer--is spectacular,
and the bombing runs are all well shot. In addition, after Raef and
Danny come back together over their romantic rift to shoot down
enough Zero planes to drive them off, the chaos at the military
hospital was scary...and, as Evelyn (who is a nurse in the film) is
patching up the wounded and marking potential patients as "critical"
or "fatalities", you get the feeling that you are there as you
realize you have 20 doctors and hundreds of wounded soldiers and you
are trying to figure out who deserves treatment the most.
Hour Three--Who wrote this film?
Strangely, the movie does not end with the
battle mentioned in the title of the film; rather, it ends in
China!! Rather than just accept that we lost that day, Bay and
screenwriter Randall Wallace decide it would be better just to have
a way for it to look like we should end the film on a happy
note...so, they tack on an extra HOUR of film to wrap up the love
triangle, send Raef and Danny to Japan in B-17s to bomb Tokyo, and
kill off Danny's character because they have been foreshadowing it
for two hours now. (Really, when they brought Danny home in a box,
were any of you surprised?) This led to much an uncomfortable
shifting of my ass in the chair half a dozen times wondering when
the film would end. Luckily, Alec Baldwin is in this film, and ever
since he started acting, Baldwin has been one of my top five
actors. His work in "Malice"--while not the best film--is at the
top of my list, because of his great "God Complex" speech near the
end of that film. Baldwin--as the leader of the B-17 bombing
run--has the best line in "Pearl Harbor" when someone asks him what
he would do if he was in a plane going down over the heart of
Tokyo...the way he delivers the word "bastard" is quite possibly the
best in movie history.
And, you wanna talk about a waste? How
about Cuba Gooding, Jr., as one of the only characters that happened
to be a real person that fought at Pearl Harbor? His character has
four scenes. His "character development"? Scene 1: He boxes,
therefore he is tough. Scene 2: He gets stitches for boxing but
makes conversation with Evelyn, therefore he is sensitive. Scene
3: He serves food to his CO, therefore he is loyal. Scene 4: He
mans a deck gun and shoots down a Zero, therefore he is a hero. The
end! And, besides President Roosevelt's (Jon Voight) butler George,
he is the only black character in the film. Ugh.
The middle hour saves the film, and this
makes the theater-worthy, because the home experience won't bring it
home like the theater will. But, the rest of this film ain't too
Comments? Drop me a line at
Bellview Rating System:
"Opening Weekend": This is
the highest rating a movie can receive. Reserved for movies that
exhibit the highest level of acting, plot, character development,
setting...or Salma Hayek. Not necessarily in that order.
"$X.XX Show": This price
changes each year due to the inflation of movie prices; currently,
it is the $9.50 Show. While not technically perfect, this is a
movie that will still entertain you at a very high level.
"Undercover Brother" falls into this category; it's no "Casablanca",
but you'll have a great time watching. The $9.50 Show won't win any
Oscars, but you'll be quoting lines from the thing for ages (see
"Matinee": An average movie
that merits no more than a $6.50 viewing at your local theater.
Seeing it for less than $9.50 will make you feel a lot better about
yourself. A movie like "Blue Crush" fits this category; you leave
the theater saying "That wasn't too bad...man, did you see that
Lakers game last night?"
"Rental": This rating
indicates a movie that you see in the previews and say to your
friend, "I'll be sure to miss that one." Mostly forgettable, you
couldn't lose too much by going to Hollywood Video and paying $3 to
watch it with your sig other, but you would only do that if the
video store was out of copies of "Ronin." If you can, see this
movie for free. This is what your TV Guide would give "one and a
"Hard Vice": This rating is
the bottom of the barrel. A movie that only six other human beings
have witnessed, this is the worst movie I have ever seen. A Shannon
Tweed "thriller," it is so bad as to be funny during almost every
one of its 84 minutes, and includes the worst ending ever put into a
movie. Marginally worse than "Cabin Boy", "The Avengers" or
"Leonard, Part 6", this rating means that you should avoid this
movie at all costs, or no costs, EVEN IF YOU CAN SEE IT FOR FREE!
(Warning: strong profanity will be used in all reviews of "Hard