A stunning,moving preview teaser for the 2001 epic Pearl Harbor got history and/or war movie fans revved up for something awesome,their appetites for big screen spectacle having been whetted by blockbusters Braveheart,Saving Private Ryan and Titanic,all hits that plunged moviegoers into historical events on a scale and with an intensity that fans felt had been missing from the screen since the Epics heyday of the early 60s.
Well,they got a spectacle for sure,but with all its $140m worth of CGI & full scale blasting the deadly duo of producer Jerry Bruckmeimer and director Michael Bay came up with a battleship-load of Craporama in terms of accuracy,anachronism,attitudes and artistic license. The 183 minute teeth-gritter is divided into a lengthy pre-war lead-in,the eye-filling attack,and then another hour to somehow give the corny romantic angle of the story a happy ending,and the modern day audience some “USA!” to walk out of the theater with.
Critics bombed the movie with nearly as much venom as the Zeroes that hit Hawaii back in ’41,while veterans and history buffs were outraged by literally scores of errors,from incident and behavior to equipment and hairstyles. Randall Wallace,who did a fine job writing Braveheart,did his reputation no favor here,and most of the cast get as close to a 1941 feel as Honolulu is to Tokyo. Okay–that’s the bad.
The special effects are stupendous,the color is gorgeous,and there are a great many individual shots display beautiful composition or gargantuan carnage,sometimes together. Even those put off by the flaws will acknowledge,at the very least, the incredible complexity of the action scenes. And,face it,for people who’ve come of age since,say the 1980s–it’s sadly quite likely that they can’t locate the Pacific Ocean,let alone know (or care) about Pearl Harbor and that big argument we had with Japan back when Lincoln was President.
It was Oscar nominated for Sound,Visual Effects and Song,and won for Sound Editing. It made over $450,000,000 here and abroad. It stars Ben Affleck,Josh Hartnett,Kate Beckinsale,Cuba Gooding Jr.(laying it on thick),Tom Sizemore,Alec Baldwin (having retro fun as Jimmy Doolittle),Jon Voight (unrecognizable as FDR,also enjoying himself),Mako,Dan Ackroyd,(awkward exposition to the fore),Colm Feore,Jennifer Garner,Michael Shannon.