Filled with emotion, romance, action and lots of explosions, one of the most anticipated movies of the summer has attempted to recreate a day that will “live in infamy:” December 7, 1941, the day Pearl Harbor was attacked.
“Pearl Harbor” is a huge movie in every way. Everything is over the top the portrayal of the time period, the action sequences, the poignant emotions from romance and brotherly love to camaraderie and patriotic love of country. What this means is that “Pearl Harbor,” if not scrutinized too closely, is a pretty entertaining movie, but for many that will not be enough.
Obviously a movie such as this has the potential to awaken nationalistic issues for some, the Japanese in particular. Perhaps one of the best things “Pearl Harbor” did was portray the Japanese in a very humane manner. They were not depicted as the evil enemy, but as people who were fighting for a cause to which they were deeply committed, just like the United States. In one scene shortly before the attack, a Japanese military man is complimenting his commander on his brilliance. The commander countered, “A brilliant man would find a way not to fight a war.”
“Pearl Harbor” seemed to be trying to accomplish the same thing as the blockbuster “Titanic” by using a bittersweet romance amidst this historical incident to connect the audience with the loss of the momentous event. Unfortunately in “Pearl Harbor”the love complication among Rafe, Danny, and Evelyn (Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett and Kate Beckinsale) is ineffectual. The more compelling connection is the friendship between Rafe and Danny. Unfortunately, the movie loses something in the twists and turns of the love triangle that merely prove distracting.
“Pearl Harbor” ends up doing a lot more telling of story line than showing. Instead of witnessing interactions on the big screen, you only hear tell of them. Rafe and Danny”s friendship is one example of this. Rafe and Danny are continually telling other characters about what good friends they are to one another. Yet, scenes depicting this are missing.
Like “Titanic” though, “Pearl Harbor” was able to return the viewers to that fateful day in history, which to so many was almost more of an abstract thought than an actual event that had occurred and touched the lives of so many. “Pearl Harbor” did a decent job of staying accurate. There are still some small inaccuracies, but only obvious to those who are Pearl Harbor aficionados or historians.
The cinematography of “Pearl Harbor” is outstanding. Michael Bay (“Armageddon” and “The Rock”) seemed to be at his best during the action sequences, which were nothing less than spectacular. The actual attack sequence was able to give the audience a taste of what it would have been like to be there on that horrific day. The sequences when the Japanese planes start moving in on the unsuspecting locals of Pearl Harbor are both tragic and magnificent all at once.
Unfortunately Michael Bay”s camera work fails during the slower scenes. Simple close-up shots were jumpy. At times, scenes portrayed partial facial views which didn”t seem to serve any artistic purpose.
There are a number of wonderful actors and actresses in this movie. Josh Hartnett and Kate Beckinsale, both fairly new to big blockbuster movies, were understated in their acting and convincing because of it. Ben Affleck, on the other hand, was not at his best. Throughout the entire movie it did not seem as though he were a part of his role but simply a big movie star playing a role. This was especially evident in his romantic script with his less than original and often repeated line, “You are so beautiful.”
Cuba Gooding Jr., who played Dorie Miller, has been played up a great deal in this movie as one of the few characters that is a true-life hero of Pearl Harbor. Gooding was excellent but his character was completely underdeveloped. In this case one could say that his fifteen minutes of fame were portrayed in ten minutes of film. His part should have either been expanded or cut out.
“Pearl Harbor” has had tons of hype. Because of this, many will be going into it with high hopes. A movie would have to do a lot to live up to such high expectations. “Pearl Harbor,” while entertaining, does not deliver in all its epic proportions.