By Fred Harvey
The History Place
How do I hate this movie, let me count the ways.
Perhaps it was the crummy script, bad acting, amateurish directing or lousy
special effects. This is definitely one of the worst World War II movies
If you took a bit of Titanic, mixed it
with Top Gun, and added some Saving Private Ryan, you would
have the stinky stew that is this marketing piece of junk from Disney,
capitalizing on the heroic legacy of the Greatest Generation.
Pearl Harbor, directed by Michael Bay and
starring Ben Affleck, is the latest in a string of Hollywood films to depict
the Japanese attack on the U.S. naval base at Hawaii on Sunday morning,
December 7, 1941.
And, like some of its predecessors, it attempts
to weave in a personal story involving the main characters in the days
leading up to the actual attack. Here, we have a convoluted Titanicish
love story that drags on for whole first hour of this three hour spectacle.
It was simply painful to watch Mister Affleck stumble and bumble along,
lacking the necessary screen presence to pull it all off. I watched this
movie in a packed theater and people were beginning to snicker at the stupidity
of the lines being uttered so awkwardly.
The mark of an amateur film director is the tendency
to use a lot of reaction shots and Pearl Harbor is chock full of
them. A reaction shot is when you the see the actor standing there all
alone reacting to something he has just been told, perhaps nodding or looking
surprised or some such thing. Watch any drama made by young film school
students and you'll see tons of awkward reaction shots, and they look stupid.
Film students also have a tendency to utilize too much camera movement
just like you see in Pearl Harbor where the camera never stops moving
around, lest we get bored.
And so I ask, how could a film of this magnitude,
a multi-multi million dollar extravaganza wind up looking so much like
an amateur movie?
Making matters worse, the part of Lt. Col. James Doolittle
is played by Alec Baldwin, who almost single-handedly wrecks this film.
A worse choice could not have been made for the part. Baldwin's performance
precisely matches the parodies of bad acting he does on the Saturday
Night Live comedy TV show in which he plays a pompous, rotten actor.
I was genuinely angry that Jimmie Doolittle, the great American, was played
by Baldwin in such a jackass manner. In addition, there is also a bizarre
cameo by the comedian Dan Aykroyd as a naval intelligence officer. I couldn't
help but notice that as Aykroyd ages he is beginning to look more and more
like Richard Nixon.
Now let's talk about some of the military stuff.
We're dealing here with two young hotshot fighter pilots played by Affleck
and his best buddy (Josh Hartnett). Obviously, this leads to battle scenes
involving air-to-air combat. What we get is a mix of real World War II
planes interspersed with reams of digitally produced footage whenever they
needed larger numbers of aircraft or shootdowns. The digital footage is
blatantly obvious and looks about as credible as a Nintendo game system.
The Japanese attack as seen on December 7 contains a huge abundance of
these phony effects and they're terrible.
Other problems include a schmaltzy, smothering
music soundtrack by Hans Zimmer in which every dramatic nuance and patriotic
utterance is accompanied by an overbearing fanfare, as if we needed to
be told what to emote.
And on and on and on.
All in all, if you want to watch a really good
drama about Pearl Harbor, then you should go to your local video store
and rent Tora! Tora! Tora! a realistic, historically accurate film
that does justice to the legacy of those who perished on that extraordinary