Reviewed by Ivana Redwine
Tagline: "December 7, 1941 - It Was A Sunday Morning..."
Length: 183 minutes
I didn't see "Pearl Harbor" during its theatrical release and most of the reviews I read were negative, so I expected something unwatchable when I started to play this movie on DVD during a lunch break. Although I liked the look of the film right away, it dragged for me at first, mainly because of heavy-handedness and dreadful dialogue. I stopped the movie after about an hour and went back to work, but that evening I watched the last two hours and much to my surprise, I found this part of the film, which is packed with action, to be reasonably entertaining.
The centerpiece of the movie is, of course, the Japanese attack on Oahu of December 7, 1941, and I thought that the film's rendering of this seminal event was very exciting. The movie then goes on to depict the American raid of April 18, 1942, on Tokyo by 16 B-25 bombers from the U.S. carrier "Hornet," and I found this very exciting as well. But these events are presented as almost pure action sequences, and those with a keen interest in history are likely to be disappointed by the lack of detail and/or insight.
"Pearl Harbor" features three attractive young stars -- Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett, and Kate Beckinsale -- but they play made-for-TV characters. However, the story itself isn't bad: Rafe (Affleck) and Danny (Hartnett) are longtime friends who become Army Air Corps pilots. After Rafe has a romantic relationship with a Navy nurse named Evelyn (Beckinsale), he is reported killed in combat. Then Danny and Evelyn fall in love, but Rafe resurfaces, putting three likable people in what should be a heartbreaking situation. But when the movie shows intimate scenes where these people talk about their feelings, the results are stunningly bad. Still, even though these characters are clumsily developed, the time we spend with them increases our enjoyment of the action sequences they later get caught up in.
On DVD "Pearl Harbor" comes packaged as a two-disc set. Disc One contains about 70 percent of the movie, and the remainder is on Disc Two. Also on Disc Two are a few bonus materials, including a rather dry 45-minute History Channel documentary titled "Unsung Heroes of Pearl Harbor," which includes some interesting historical footage. There's also a 47-minute promotional feature titled "Journey to the Screen: The Making of 'Pearl Harbor,'" which contains remarks by producer-director Michael Bay and producer Jerry Bruckheimer, along with those of several Pearl Harbor survivors. And there are a few other special features on Disc Two, which I have listed below. Overall, however, I didn't find the DVD bonus materials as involving or illuminating as I thought they ought to be, given the importance of the subject matter.
Selected Special Features on the DVDs:
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