Monday, July 4, 2011

Pearl Harbor

Credentials:  5.5 out of 10 ( 44 out of 100 ( 25% Certified Rotten (
Nominated for six Razzies at the 2001 Golden Rasberry Awards: Worst Picture, Worst Director, Worst Screenplay, Worst Screen Couple, Worst Actor (Ben Affleck), and Worst Remake or Sequel. It didn't win any.  
Plot: A fighter pilot (Ben Affleck) and a military nurse (Kate Beckinsale) fall madly in love as WWII rages in the Pacific and Europe and the good old USA sits idly by on the sidelines. Sadly, the pilot goes away to help the Brits fight the Germans, leaving the nurse all to her lonesome. But don’t feel too sorry for her though, as she gets sent to some navy base of little consequence in beautiful Hawaii. But then tragedy strikes and the pilot is killed in action. The nurse is heartbroken, so heartbroken that she stumbles right into the arms of his best friend (Josh Hartnett) who is also a pilot. Not a bad consolation prize, huh ladies? Anyhow, the nurse and her new pilot fall madly in love and everything is awesome until the original pilot love interest shows up. Apparently he wasn’t dead after all. Drama ensues. Oh yeah and then the Japanese launch a sneak attack that  changes the course of history forever… but that’s not important. What’s important is love triangle drama! JERRY! JERRY! JERRY!
Thoughts:  Now, you would think that a movie called “Pearl Harbor” would focus squarely on the events that forced America into WWII. You would think that, but you’d be wrong.
                This is a Michael Bay-directed movie we’re talking about. Commonsense has no place here.

                Apparently Bay and his screenwriter (Randall Wallace) didn’t think the story of Pearl Harbor was strong enough to carry a movie all by itself. So, they decided to give it some help by shoehorning in a love triangle melodrama so cheesy and clichéd that most soap operas would have shied away from it.
 The love story sticks closely to a well-worn path, tossing in a few twists that even the most novice moviegoer would see coming from a mile away.
                But Bay and Wallace stick to their guns, gamely drawing out each not-so shocking twist and turn like they’re reinventing the wheel. For three godless hours.
                I’m not sure who told Michael Bay that movies can’t clock in at under three hours, but that person and I are going to have to throw down.
                The script is almost entirely fluff. The actual attack at Pearl Harbor doesn’t start until the hour and twenty minute mark! Then, it lasts for 40 jaw-dropping and entertaining minutes. The movie’s last hour is reserved for some revisionist history on the aftermath of the attack.
               Somehow Bay has managed to reduce Pearl Harbor to a subplot in a movie called “Pearl Harbor."
                The thing is, the action scenes are extremely well done. The special effects are spectacular and the cinematography is nothing short of breathtaking. The aerial dogfights are some of Bay’s best work.
                Michael Bay doesn’t know much, but the man knows action.
                On the acting front, Kate Beckinsale is really more of a plot device than a character, bouncing from one love interest to another.
 Affleck’s pilot is a cocky, headstrong, sort-of d-bag. It’s the same kind of character Affleck rode to huge success and eventually colossal failure. It’s also the same kind of cardboard character he’s been avoiding like the plague lately.  
                Hartnett broods. I like the guy, but that’s all he does here. Oh well, at least he’s got cool hair.
                “Pearl Harbor” doesn’t work as an action movie, because there’s not enough action outside of the middle act. It also doesn’t work as a drama because the writing is too weak and predictable.  
                The most compelling and dramatic parts of “Pearl Harbor” are the ones Bay and co. didn’t manufacture. The confusion and fear caused by the surprise attack and the remarkable acts of heroism that followed.
                One scene that stands out takes place at the base’s hospital. Overwhelmed nurses and doctors rush from patient to patient, making life and death decisions in a split second. It’s absolutely heart breaking to watch.  It also makes you want to strangle Bay for wasting so much time getting to it.
                Someone needs to rein him in because there might just be a talented filmmaker hiding in there somewhere, just waiting to finally hear the phrase: “You should cut this part out.”
                Bumblebee tuna.

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