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3.8 out of 5 stars
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3.8 out of 5 stars
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 24 January 2015
‘I joined the army to do my patriotic duty….and ...to meet guys’ Nurse Martha.
This 2001 American war and romance was a massive success at the box office but was panned by the critics and its easy to see why. Opening to a highly romanticised view of a crop dusting bi-plane flying against a shimmering setting sun, it sets the romantic feel to the first part of the film. Two boys are at play, they both love aeroplanes and skip forward to 1940 they join up as flyboys. What follows is an emotional love story set against the backdrop of Pearl Harbour that plays like ‘The Battle of Britain’ meets ‘Titanic’ bumps into ‘Top Gun’ and stumbles over ‘Private Ryan’.
For general entertainment this certainly merits a ***** rating. There are beautiful looking people by the boat load, romance that puts Titanic to shame and action sequences that still overawe . The dropping bomb scene has become an icon and is now a much loved presentation technique for news broadcasts in the ‘real world’ and the film is always fast paced and maintains the interest throughout it’s almost 2 hour run time. There are also some good lines thrown in that give humour.
So why the criticism; The love angle has a number of twists and turns –as does the basic war backdrop, but much is very obvious and lacks real thought. Historical accuracy has been smudged to provide entertainment value but to the general viewer these are easily overlooked or not obvious. What does jar in quite a few places is that ‘gung ho’ attitude and phraseology that’s thrown into the script which also puts people in positions and places they would be extremely unlikely to be in, but that’s what separates entertainment from reality.
The first disc holds the film and enters straight to a menu offering scene selection, set up [basically if you want subtitles or not] and play running for 176 minutes. The second disc has theatrical trailer and bonus material which opens other menus and is basically a making of, and must have 64 minutes to bring it up to the 3 hour run time advertised [but I haven’t played it all so can’t confirm this].
So there you have it, it’s public vs critics when it comes down to it. If you liked the films mentioned above, want a romance with war [or war with romance] that is hugely emotional and entertaining, then this is difficult to beat. If you want realism [either romance or war] look elsewhere. Personally I loved this film, but certain elements and obvious script did jar badly for me, hence **** rating.
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on 17 September 2015
I will admit that I am not the most accurate person when it comes to the history of the world, so thus I am unable to speak of this film from a historical point of view. I will say this: I did enjoy the film even if it was a wee bit long (but that's okay, since it is a war movie). My only issue was the relationship between Hartnett and Beckinsale's characters. Your best friend dies in the war and the first person you think of hooking up with is his girl? There are literally plenty of other fish in the sea. When Afleck's character returned, I had to slap the space bar on my laptop and laugh at the sticky situation these two new lovebirds found themselves in.

As I said previously, I am not entirely sure about how accurate this movie was in portraying the historical events of Pearl Harbour but judging from many other reviews, I'm guessing the producers didn't do the best job at the keeping the film accurate. But yet again, in their defence, if you want accuracy then you should go hit some documentaries.

But I must say this: Affleck and Hartnett's portrayal of the relationship between two best friends was spot on. There wasn't a time when I felt as though their friendship was forced. What was also touching was Affleck's tendency to want to protect his best friend. We see this in the beginning of the film when as children he displays this characteristic by slamming his best friend's dad on the head with a plank. However, tables turn when Hartnett's character literally takes bullets for his best friend.

I will admit that I did cry a little (okay, a lot) at the end of the movie because it dawned on me how unfair life can be. I found myself frustrated at how everyone's plans did not work out the way they wanted. But that's just me. I tend to think a little too deeply at times. The movie is good. Apparently not historically accurate, but good.
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on 21 December 2013
I have seen this film a few times and on each occasion I have been more disappointed by it. First, I agree with many reviewers who comment on how it relies far to too much on the CGI effects, which are technically quite good but, like a shoot-em-up computer game, CGI does not add convincingly to any sense of drama. Secondly, is it a war film or a complicated three way romance? But my real gripe with this film is that is tries to portray a couple of young boy-next-door Americans as heroes who were instrumental in almost every theatre of the war: The Battle of Britain, the attack on Pearl Harbour and the Doolittle raids.

The romance storyline adds very little, it is just a bit of tinseltown nonsense.

Worst line in the script "It looks like world war two has started!!" (For a reference to world war two you have to question what was world war one. I think at the time the previous event between 1914-18 was known as "The Great War", not world war one. A major conflict had already been going on in Europe and at sea for over two years. The USa supporting with aid, but was not a combatant. Added to that, Japan was already at war with and had invaded part of China)

This movie doesn't explain why the US was unprepared for the attack, or why it turned up late to deal with the evil Nazi forces in Europe. Going into more detail, it treats the incident where the black cook heroically downing a few planes almost as a comedy moment, but is there a race element here - was he just a cook before that because of racism (I don't know - but if that was true that could have been a relevant story).

Overall this movie does nothing to explain the circumstances, political and diplomatic issues leading up to the attack. It leaves me no wiser about why it happened. What was the Japanese agenda? What else happened, like the similar attack on Darwin two months later? I am not looking for a dry documentary, but good drama can be used to convey the history, hopes and fears and tragedy of war.
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#1 HALL OF FAMEon 8 February 2003
Pearl Harbor (sic) is everything the critics said it was. And worse. A dim amalgamation not of beauty & horror, but of Saving Private Ryan & Titanic. This film has more in common with The Phantom Menace than From Here to Eternity- a cacophony of CGI & reconstructed atrocities. If you like seeing people blown up, this is your film- personally I find it rather odd that people get off on people being cut to shreds by laser-like bullets. The action part of this film is exactly like Private Ryan- nice to see that the falling Japanese bombs are used as punchlines several times, e.g "It's a Dud!"- BOOM!
The period detail is hyperreal, the love triangle the biggest cliche ever- I guessed how this would end before I saw the film (& there's that Iceman-Maverick style repressed homosexuality between pretty boy Hartnett & balding Affleck). The characters are paper-thin cliches, Beckinsale the homely nurse- Sizemore the shouting Patton type (he even shoots at a plane with a gun- as George C Scott did in Patton)- the tertiary characters including Ewan Bremner. Cuba Gooding Jr's career vanishes towards Snow Day, from the Oscar Winning Jerry Maguire. Love the fact the captain knows who he is & that the systematic racism alluded to in such establishment sources as Hugh Brogan's Penguin History of the USA is not present. The Japs get a minor-plotline, Tora! Tora! Tora! style- though we don't get to know ANY of them as people & their appearance is more out of wish to have success in the Japanese demograph than to approach history with anything like balance (witness the obscene dehumanization of the Somalians in Black Hawk Down).
Jon Voight acts like he's in an Oliver Stone film, pity that. There is some horrible schmaltz- kids dressed as angels as the Japs come into bomb & scampering dogs. Sailors say that they're going to drown as their ship becomes immersed in water & Gooding Jr reenacts Under Siege- becoming the Chef who gets into action, shooting down some too fast CGI planes in a style that reminded me of Luke Skywalker in Star Wars: A New Hope. There's even a bit of the film shot from stock meant to resemble the period- what exactly is this meant to signify? Watch for the amusing scene that follows, just like Anakin in Phantom Menace at the end.
The reprisals at the end are comedy of the finest order- it would be hilarious if this were a comedy. As the history books will tell you, many more Japanese died in WWII than Americans- specifically in air-raids such as the blanket bombing of Tokyo & the atom decimation of Hiroshima & Nagasaki. Here you get the idea they are bombing non-humans, so that's all right...
Pearl Harbor translates establishment history (where are the conspiracy theories about this event?) into entertainment; the problem is, it ain't that entertaining. This is a celluloid atrocity, manipulative propaganda of the dimmest variety. The same limited writer also did the same style script for the idiotic We Were Soldiers- this strain of ideology is archaic, pre-WWII, pre-Catch 22, pre-MASH....
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on 17 January 2002
This film is a challenge to watch for anyone with a brain to sit through, my friend and I weren't giving it any attention during the last hour. The shoddy acting and script makes every line seem silly. I enjoyed Titanic but this is just rubbish compared to it. The action scenes are the only interesting part, but they have been ruined by putting the actors in them. This is not mentioning the 'americans are great' attitude or the massive factual errors. If you want this for a war action film, buy 'Enemy at the Gates', if you want a soppy film buy 'Titanic', just buy a second copy if you already have it rather than this.
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on 28 February 2016
Great romantic/sad film. Not just for chicks either as I watched it with my husband and he enjoyed it as much as I did!!
Bought it as a present for my 18yr old daughter as its one of her favourite films.
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on 10 November 2013
where to start ? the first 70 minutes makes a pretty decent movie,,,, then it all falls apart. The HD transfer is great throughout and the cinematography is always clever. However halfway through the film the director and production team just got bored and threw every cliché and recycled JB movie technique they could think of. The result is a total mess. Every attempt at cohesion and cinematic glue just leads to clumsy editing and absurd over-blown "moments". One HUGE error in the movie that has anyone that knows anything about WW2 laughing was that Japanese planes embarking on a naval mission would NOT be painted GREEN since they would obviously stick out like sore thumbs over the ocean! The planes that actually did attacked pearl Harbor were of course in the correct Japanese Naval livery not some absurd figment of the directors imagination.... this really is as bad as they said it was... a terrible waste of money and time.
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on 27 February 2002
I meant to go and see this film in the cinema, but never got round to it and I am very glad I didnt waste my money to see it. This is the WORST film I have seen in a long time. It fails to deliver on almost every level.
This film had such a huge budget that it had no excuse to fall down anywhere. Indeed, all persons involved have done films that I love and/or respect. Brockhiemer (Producer) and Bay (Director/Producer) have produced, together and individually some of the best action films of the '90s. All the main actors have done solid or even great performances. And Wallace (screenplay) cut his teeth with a worthy effort on Braveheart. However, all this experience just seemed to confuse everyone on the project.
The plot and scipt are shallow, static and cliche. This is hardly a good foundation. Michael Bay then seems to have no idea what he is doing with his cameras. Each scene is so short and uninformative there is no characterisation, and just giving everyone Southern accents doesnt mean they dont have character depth.
The action is the one thing that the Bay and Brockheimer duo should have got right, but even this doesnt cut it. While the special effects are the only positive thing (the cgi really is seemless). But Bay just points the camera rather flatly, sluggishly and very unoriginally at planes and explosions, or gives the camera a lot of shaking to imply that 'this is intense'.
The plot of the love triangle is so unexciting that really it just gets in the way. Just because they speak of love and sacrifice and emotional turmoil does not give even girly girls on a girls night in together an excuse to be sympathetic to it. And how does it get away with making obvious glorifications of suicide attacks, a thing for which the Kamikaze were historically condemned by the Amercians for being unethical. Was this just an implication of 'We did it first'.
All in all the writer, producers and directors seemed to watched half a dozen classic war films and taken any poinient moment and copied and stuck them all together thinking they would make 'a really poinient film'. Everything seems to have been seen before but so dummed down that a 10 year old might find it hard not to be bored.
I can definitely say that I do not think higly of this film. It is offensive even to the genre of the Blockbuster.
If you want a war film Saving Private Ryan, if you want a love film English Patient or Shakepsear in Love, and if you want action The Matrix... but this films does not deliver on ANY level.
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on 14 February 2008
I dislike this film considerably, though my own peeves have nothing to do with the acting, the special effects, the set, and so on. I'm basically upset at the simplicity of this film. It asks very few questions about why the attack on Pearl Harbour took place. But Pearl Harbour was the event that drew the United States into the Second World War. It is on a par with Hitler's invasion of Poland, so you'd think that a film with this title would treat the event with the seriousness it deserves. Not so.

Just in case you think my complaints are purely hypothetical, there have been some excellent revisionist histories published in the more than half century since the bombing took place. With the passage of time and the cooling of tempers, legitimate questions have been raised on both sides of the Pacific. Why was the United States so unprepared? Was the military deliberately left uninformed by the U.S. government, in order to draw a hitherto reluctant nation into war? Why do we take it for granted that Hawaii is part of the United States (it wasn't a state until 1959), and what's the Japanese take on that? Could it be that the United States has a history of imperialism just as imperial Japan did?

Basically, I take issue with this film for the same reason that I take issue with 'Titanic' (1997). The romance isn't bad, but why have romance at all? Aren't the historical events enough in themselves? Isn't it rather insulting to put a fictional boy-meets-girl romance slap bang in the centre of an affair that affected the lives of thousands, if not millions? What purpose does it serve apart from distracting us from an utterly momentous event? 'Tora! Tora! Tora!' (1970) is an older film, but far more sophisticated in comparison. Thirty years have passed, and I'm left feeling that the opportunity for a deeper, more comprehensive viewing experience has been utterly wasted.

Onto the battle scene. This is spectacular and gripping, and will have everyone on the edge of their seats. But it exists in a total vacuum. We know that it's 'the Japanese' doing it, but they might as well be Martians. Sorry, but I think they deserve much better treatment than this film has afforded them. Why are they doing it? How did they get the idea? How long did it take to plan? What were the precise objectives? For that matter, who are they? What do they believe in? Did any of them have girlfriends and sweethearts waiting for them in Japan? Or is it only Americans who have that privilege?
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on 28 September 2010
Well, what can I say about this film? Utter twaddle from the moment I saw the war time nurses with long hair artistically draped about their made up faces and hanging loose for maximum effect in a hospital. I knew from that point on that I would have to suspend belief and endure. And endure I did as Ben Afleck re-wrote history by defending America's honour single handedly.

This film was dire, this film was rank. And I would rank it equally on a par with that other dreadful film 'Down with Love'.
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