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Film Review - Pearl Harbor
With all the over-blown media hype this film kept building, I half expected the studio to call this
WORLD WAR II - The Movie
This film is trying to do way too much and is way too long. I liked the opener. Two kids in 1923 screwing around with Dad's crop duster. It's a great way to establish the life-long friendship. That works great. And the scenes establishing these two life-long friends in the same squadron work.
It's this stupid love story I have trouble with. It eats up a lot of time, and frankly isn't very good glue for this film. In the middle of the love story sub-plot, one of the heros is attached to a British fighter squadron. RING RING RING! Reality Phone! No active duty US Servicemen were attached to RAF squadrons before the declaration of war. To do so would have been an act of war. Some one really had their head up their butt when they thought of this sub-plot.
Finally, we get to what we paid our money for, the actual attack. This is re-created in great detail. All the forces of special effects are employed to give us a front row seat from the bomb dropping on the deck of the U.S.S. Arizona, to Battleships keeling over and sinking. The battle is on par with the invasion scene from Saving Private Ryan (Which is the only scene in that movie worth watching). The realism is the redeeming factor of the film. The pain and suffering is right in front of you. The scope is big from the water of Pearl Harbor to the wards of the base hospital.
After the attack at Pearl Harbor, the producer discovered that he didn't have an ending to the movie. After all, the US Navy got it's ass kicked that day, and you can't end a movie with the hero getting his ass kicked. Can't do that so let's tack on a second feature. Effectively, the producer decided to make this a double bill with no intermission.
If the first feature was Tora, Tora, Tora, the second feature was Sixty Seconds Over Tokyo with our heros now attached to General Doolittle's bomber squadron. There's just one little problem with fighter jocks flying bombers, nobody did that. And bringing the dead bodies home at the end, no one did that either. You didn't drag dead bodies with you behind enemy lines. They slowed you down and they were decomposing.
I can't really give this film a great rating. The scenes that depict the attack on Pearl Harbor are spectacular. A fantastic reason to watch, and when this film hits DVD, I'll watch those scenes and toss the rest. This movie is just too long. It gets lost after the attack. And that love story, shoot, you could have ripped out an excess forty-five minutes from the beginning of the picture and the audience would have been happy.
In the end, the value of this picture is that it doesn't glorify war. This is a real incident from history. It was a painful, deadly wake up call. This film does take some liberties with the exact events of the attack, but it does keep the bitter flavor. At the end of the picture you have a whole lot more respect for those who served.
Directed by Michael Bay
Released in 2001
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Reviewed by Mongo