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picture from Pearl Harbor Pearl Harbor
4 out of 104 out of 104 out of 104 out of 104 out of 10
Rated: PG-13
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Current Voter Rating: 8.313 (1,177 votes)
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Now I haven't spoken to, or read about, writer and director, Randall Wallace and Michael Bay (respectively), and their vision for Pearl Harbor, or how it all began, yet I know with certainty the inspiration for this movie: TITANIC. In short, this latest action-drama about the events of one of our nation's darkest moments, can be effectively be summarized as, "Titanic with guns."

You see, it's as if they took 1997's blockbuster hit and tried to apply the same formula to this movie. And that formula is essentially this:

  1. Have as a backdrop and setting a historical and disastrous event, preferably on the ocean.
  2. Have the main focus of the script be a really sappy love story.
  3. Throw in some dazzling special effects.
  4. Add a touch of emotional music.
  5. Finally, piece together some drawn-out death scenes that makes everyone cry. Also, it is important that one of the main characters in the movie die in the end.
And there you have it, a Titanic-ized movie.

The problem here is that when Titanic did it, it was original and well done. We may all be sick of it by now, but it was a great movie when it first came out. With Pearl Harbor, it is first of all a ripoff, and second of all much of it was overdone to the extent that it made me sick; seasick, if you prefer corny puns.

With Titanic, James Cameron created a wonderful environment. He recreated the essence of what it was like aboard that fateful voyage across the Atlantic. In short, he took us there and we were a part of it. With Pearl Harbor, we get the sense that we are in Hawaii, but we never get a feeling of what life was like for our navy seamen. Cuba Gooding, Jr.'s role as Dorie Miller (below) could have and should have been the main charcter in this film, linking us to the thoughts and emotions of those being attacked. Instead, his role seemed as if he was an afterthought.

picture from Pearl Harbor

So what do we get for lead characters? We get some sort of attempt to recreate Top Gun's Maverick and Ice Man. Josh Hartnett and Ben Affleck were about as believable as hero fighter pilots as Bert and Ernie (of Sesame Street) would have been. First of all, aren't those in the service supposed to have short haircuts so that their hair does not interfere with their performance? These two had their bangs in their eyes the entire movie! And what's more, pilots, of all people, shouldn't have to squint the entire time like Hartnett does throughout the film.

Actually, I probably wouldn't come down so hard on Josh and Ben if it weren't for the most stupid, corny, sappy, and vomitous love triangle between the two fly boys and the nurse (Kate Beckinsale). This is by far the worst stuff ever written for the big screen. In fact, take this love crap away from this movie, and it actually could have been pretty good. There were some good dogfights between the Americans and the Japanese, along with some stirring music and overall patriotism coming from the words of FDR.

But let's say that it IS possible to edit this movie and remove all love-story crap. Then we are still left with two HORRIBLE casting decisions: Alec Baldwin, as Colonel James H. Doolittle, and Dan Akroyd as Captain Thurman. Neither of these two did what I would really call acting. In fact, it was as if their extensive experience with Saturday Night Live (Baldwin as a frequent host, and Akroyd as a former cast member) prompted them to make a farce of this movie DURING the movie. Both of their characters were supposed to be serious, dramatic characters playing key roles in our nation's plight. But when seeing Baldwin and Akroyd's performances, I was left wondering, "Are they trying to be funny? Are they trying to be sarcastic? Or do they just really SUCK that bad?"

A review like this would not be complete without one more thing to harp on: the villians. In this case, the antagonists are the Japanese. However, rather than delve into their thoughts, emotions, and motives, the film spends no time with them, and when it does, it treats them with mystery and prejudice. I was quite disappointed in this.

In any case, this movie demonstrates why Hollywood should leave some things untouched. Because more often than not, it gets it all wrong. With Pearl Harbor, the goal was never to make a film documenting our nation's entrance into WWII. Instead it was, "Damn the torpedoes. Let's find a way to sell tickets." Well don't be fooled. Save your money for something worthwhile.

thumbs down!Pearl Harbor is basically TITANIC with GUNS.

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So far, the average rating for Pearl Harbor is: 8.313 (1,177 votes)

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