This is the kind of action film where you could just take any of the lines and use them unaltered in a comedy-film, and it would work just fine, because at least then our laughter would be intended for. In fact, I believe somebody has done that, already - have you ever seen Trey Parker and Matt Stone‘s lovely Team America?
Michael Bay‘s ridiculous, derisory and dull 2001 war-film Pearl Harbor is a 3 hour motion picture that could be so much shorter, were it not for the fact that it pays close attention to characters for whom we do not care, when instead it could pay attention to, y’know, Pearl Harbor. Making a film about the 1940 Pearl Harbor Attacks of World War II isn’t a bad idea, but making one that isn’t about the war as much as it is about a boring love triangle – that, my friends, is a bad idea!
Two fighter pilots, Rafe McCawley (Ben Affleck) and Danny Walker (Josh Hartnett), best friends since childhood, are sadly the main focus of the movie. They are commanded by Major Jimmy Doolittle (Alec Baldwin) and they both lust for the same woman, a nurse named Evelyn Johnson (Kate Beckinsale). When the film isn’t revolving around these three and how two friends childishly become foes, it revolves around their fellow soldiers, or in Evelyn’s case BFF’s.
To name one, Cuba Gooding Jr. plays a soldier/boxer whose part in the film could have been so much bigger for the better. Then there’s Dan Aykroyd, Tom Sizemore, Colm Feore and Peter Firth as additional soldiers/officers and Evelyn’s friends are played by Jaime King, Jennifer Garner and others. She enjoys talking about boys with them. Allow me to groan angrily. Danny’s father is played by William Fichtner but he isn’t in the film so much.
Believe it or not, there are scenes in the film that are actually about the Pearl Harbor Attack itself. Jon Voight plays President Franklin D. Rooselvelt and late voice-acting legend Mako is Isoroku Yamamoto, the Japanese admiral who planned the attacks. The scene in the middle where the actual air strike is occuring is thrilling and good-looking, sure, but it goes on for a bit too long, but it is not on a Transformers 3-level of boring, thankfully. After these attacks, Rafe and Danny both become involved in the Doolittle Raid and they are forced to set their silly bickering aside. If only this would’ve happened earilier; maybe the film would’ve been less bad?
Like most Michael Bay films, this one includes plenty of comic relief, most of which is delivered by a stuttering Ewen Bremner, and like most of Michael Bay’s comic relief, it isn’t amusing. Although, somewhat surprisingly, it isn’t horribly racist this time.
If you saw this film believing it was some kind of mean-spirited joke, you would be forgiven. The writing, acting, “romantic” dialogue and characters is the kind one would expect not from a war movie, but a parody of clichéd and corny war movies. This fact is why Trey Parker and Matt Stone saw this film in order to get the characters in their wonderful comedy Team America right, that is to say wooden, uninteresting and clichéd. As I stated in my Team America-review, it worked fine there. Jerry Bruickheimer and Michael Bay created an equally silly picture in 1998, called Armageddon, but at least that one had Steve Buscemi.
Like every bad film out there, this one does have some fans, which is fine since we all have guilty pleasures, but saying that this garbage is a better World War II movie than Schindler’s List and being sure of it, that is simply insane. I know people who have said this, which I would be totally okay with if they said “I know most people hate it, but here’s why I enjoyed it…” and not “This film’s good ‘cuz I’m right and you, Victor, are a moron”. Guilty pleasures are fine but trying to deny that they’re guilty pleasures and say instead that they’re genuinely great films – without arguing even remotely – is purely stupid, as I’ve explained previously.
Pearl Harbor is a painfuly tedious, abysmally unoriginal and utterly laughable experience. The action is colorful and thrilling, but only for so long. Hans Zimmer tries to save it with his talents, as does Cuba Gooding Jr. and Jon Voight but it sadly doesn’t help. It is all-in-all a pathetic picture. Anyone who enjoyed it, has most presumably not seen many movies, or they can just forgive Affleck’s acting because of his cute looks. Good grief.
I’m posting a link for the trailer below, but I would much rather you check this out.