Pearl Harbor features a large ensemble cast, including Ben Affleck, Alec Baldwin, Jon Voight, Josh Hartnett, Kate Beckinsale, Cuba Gooding, Jr., Dan Aykroyd, Colm Feore, Mako, Tom Sizemore, Jaime King, and Jennifer Garner.
Pearl Harbor is a dramatic re-imagining of the Empire of Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor Naval Base and the subsequent Doolittle Raid and was produced by Bay and Jerry Bruckheimer, who had previously worked on blockbusters such as Armageddon and The Rock. Some of Pearl Harbor's scenes were among the last to be filmed in Technicolor.
Bombed, torpedoed, sunk, Pearl Harbor will appeal to many with its big names, its schmaltzy and contrived love story, its special effects for their own sake and its simplistic appeals to patriotism, morality and retaliatory violence. Yet the reality is that its just another installment in Hollywood's ongoing butchery of history for its own corporate ends: film-makers who use events like the bombing of Pearl Harbor want to exploit its sentiment but feel no duty to do it justice historically. The tepid disclaimer offered by its makers - that this movie is actually a 'love story' and not a docu-drama - should be swallowed by no-one (why then call the movie "Pearl Harbor" and not "Hearts across Oahu"?) The disappointing outcome of this misrepresentation is that many, if not most will leave the cinemas or turn off the DVD and think "So, that was what it was all about..!" Actually, it was probably nothing like this.
The movie goes for about three hours when less than two would have sufficed, and the surplus length can be attributed to both prolonged scenes of the bombing raid on Pearl Harbor itself, and the set-up of perhaps the most pointless and pitiful love triangle in cinematic history. Beckinsale, Affleck and Hartnett tango around each other for far too long, combining disinterested looks with utterly ridiculous platitudes and emotional observations (in fact the whole screenplay for this movie ranges from mediocre to utterly atrocious). Inserting a love story into an epic war movie is tantamount to breast enhancement surgery: get it wrong and the whole package will look utterly ridiculous - and this one was done by a butcher, not a master surgeon. Perhaps the screen writing budget was instead spent on the special effects and bombing scenes, which were too long and offered nothing except a half-hour of noise, cacophony and flying things. It added no meaning or redemption to the film - and by this stage it was craving for it, after the romantic interludes.
Of course every Hollywood blockbuster needs absolution and resolution, so there's some of that. Cuba Gooding Jnr. plays a black USN cook who, in the heat of battle, mans a gun and shoots some Jap planes, despite being racially excluded from such duties (those canny Afro-Americans, they're always fighting for rather than against their oppressors). Alec Baldwin plays an Army officer who leads a token retaliatory raid on Tokyo four months after Pearl Harbor. Jon Voight does a good job of looking and sounding vaguely like FDR, so full of vigor that he at one stage jumps up out of his wheelchair. Even the Japanese who plan and lead the Pearl Harbour attack, when hearing of its success, seem aware that their actions have doomed them to inevitable defeat. It's all enough to gladden the heart of the most retrospectively-patriotic American. A shame though that reality and patriotism don't make good bedfellows, and that this appalling movie is a simple-minded sideshow that doesn't honor the Pearl Harbor dead, it downright embarrasses them.
tags : Jennifer Garner.