War (US); 2001;
Rated PG-13; 183 Minutes
Ben Affleck: Rafe McCawley
Josh Hartnett: Danny Walker
Kate Beckinsale: Evelyn Johnson
Cuba Gooding, Jr.: Doris Miller
William Lee Scott: Billy
Greg Zola: Anthony Winkle
Tom Sizemore: Earl
Ewen Bremner: Red
Jon Voight: Franklin Roosevelt
Alec Baldwin: General Doolittle
Produced by Kenny Bates, Michael Bay, Jerry Bruckheimer,
Scott Gardenhour, Bruce Hendricks, K.C. Hodenfield, Jennifer
Klein, Chad Oman, Selwyn Roberts, Pat Sandston, Mike Stenson,
Barry Waldman and Randall Wallace; Directed by Michael
Bay; Screenwritten by Randall Wallace
by DAVID KEYES
Randall Wallace screenplay that offers a romance-driven
rendition of the infamous World War II disaster at Pearl
Harbor serves as the newest in a long line of excuses for
director Michael Bay and producer Jerry Bruckheimer to waste
ambition, talent, money and time on a production built around
loud noises, gigantic explosions, and not much else. Perhaps
we would not be so willing to cave into advanced negative
perception, though, had either of them actually done something
halfway respectable somewhere in the duration of their incessant
careers. The fact is that their adrenaline-pumped endeavors
care about little of anything other than numbing the senses,
and judging by the latest offering in their endless cycle
of big-budgeted drivel, neither has any interest in taking
one simple subject seriously either, never mind the fact
that they aren’t just tinkering with emotions and special
effects this time around, but history itself as well.
the end result is almost too bad for words. “Pearl Harbor”
is big, loud, clumsy, offensive, inept and overplayed so
immensely, it almost leads to nausea. But then again, could
it have even been better without the Bruckheimer/Bay influence?
Not likely, considering the story is a recycling bin of
ideas and conventions, torn from the scraps of much better
movies like “Titanic” and “Saving Private Ryan,” with some
added weight left over from “Armageddon.” The negative effect
of combining these elements might have been minimal, though,
had the writer actually cared about preserving the intricacies
of the facts surrounding the events, or at least offered
some sense of closure once it was done unraveling. But neither
trait is achieved here; the details are left blurred and
open to speculation, and the ending seems so unfinished
that it leaves audience members feeling like they’ve been
stranded in an active battleground.
premise (or lack thereof) centers on a love triangle that
develops when dyslexic ace pilot Rafe McCawley (Ben Affleck)
enlists in the British Air Force, and asks his old country
friend Danny Walker (Josh Hartnett) to keep an eye on his
favorite gal, the beautiful nurse Evelyn Johnson (Kate Beckinsale).
With him gone, of course, passion ensues. But how can either
man cope with the situation when the Japanese unexpectedly
target Pearl Harbor, the location that both Evelyn and Danny
have designated as their own personal rendezvous point?
Oh, if we only cared the slightest!
those who know little of the background that lead to the
Pearl Harbor catastrophe, I would not recommend this movie
as a history lesson. The plot is extremely shallow on details
(mostly because it’s too busy with romantic interludes and
loud and fast explosions). In fact, it’s as if the core
goal of the movie is to use the actual disaster as merely
a backdrop to the love story itself. That kind of decision
would be fine if the romance in question was plausible,
but Josh Hartnett, Ben Affleck and the lady in between them,
Kate Beckinsale, are too stern and emotionless on screen
to ever create a sense of passion between the characters.
The dialogue exchanged between them, meanwhile, is bland
and uninspired, pushing their personas so far into the background
that the Japanese bombs feel more human than they do.
the biggest, most insulting aspect of the entire 183-minute
tragedy is its nerve to claim that the cast is diverse,
when in fact the nonwhite subjects of the movie receive
very little screen time. Cuba Gooding, Jr., for instance,
is billed as one of the five big stars of the movie, when
in fact he gets maybe five or ten total minutes of screen
time to himself. What’s the point? And another thing: the
disaster took place on Hawaiian territory, and yet the movie
features very few Hawaiian natives. Those that are actually
featured are very minor players and add little to no significance
to the unfolding plot. And the Japanese? Oh, that’s a whole
different review in itself...
why go to see this movie at all? Actually, the only real
reason why most people went to see “Pearl Harbor” in the
first place was to watch the visual representation of the
actual bombing, now considered to be the movie’s “centerpiece.”
To its credit, the half-hour sequence that depicts the Japanese
attack on American soil is very much observant, despite
being too loud and fast for the majority of its existence.
This aspect alone at least makes the overall experience
a little more watchable than the movie’s closest blockbuster
relative, the totally unforgivable “Armageddon.” But in
any case, both films still share a lot in common—each, for
instance, should be treated as if they were contaminated
food products and be removed from public consumption immediately.
2001, David Keyes, Cinemaphile.org.
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