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Written by Randall Wallace
Directed by Michael Bay

Running Time: 3:00

Rated PG-13
for sustained intense war sequences, images of wounded, brief sensuality and some language.

Ben Affleck as
Rafe McCawley

Josh Hartnett as
Danny Walker

Kate Beckinsale as
Evelyn Johnson

Cuba Gooding, Jr. as
Doris Miller

Alec Baldwin as
Jimmy Doolittle

Jon Voight as

Tom Sizemore as

James King as

Ewen Bremner as

William Lee Scott as

Catherine Kellner as

Jennifer Garner as

Michael Shannon as

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Pearl Harbor is a love story wrapped around a war. While it is certainly a sappy movie, it was still fun to watch and certainly worth seeing. Josh Hartnett and Kate Beckinsale bring a lot of heart to the film, and the battle scenes are amazing.

Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett star as Rafe and Danny, best friends who only wanted to fly. As the rest of the world enters WWII, Rafe and Danny enter the Army, determined to become 'fly boys' and fight the good fight. While in training, Rafe meets a nurse named Evelyn (the beautiful Kate Beckinsale) and the two of them fall in love. But only a month later, Rafe volunteers to enter the British Air Force and fight in Europe against Germany. He is shot down over the ocean, and is presumed dead. Danny and Evelyn at first try to avoid each other, so that they will not have to remember Rafe, but soon they too fall in love. But then out of nowhere, Rafe returns. He was shot down, but managed to survive. Now he comes back to the woman he loves, the woman who kept him alive for 3 months, only to find her with his best friend. Before the three of them can work things out, the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor. After the devastating attack, Rafe and Danny are enlisted in a top secret mission that could kill them, as well as the rest of the people involved. Evelyn is left at home, wondering what will happen to the men she loves, and who will return.

If you go in thinking Pearl Harbor is going to be a war movie, you're going to be very disappointed. The actual attack on Pearl Harbor took place almost an hour and a half into the film, then lasts only 30-40 minutes. The last hour of the film continues the story of Rafe and Danny, before finally coming to an end at the 3 hour mark. This is really a love triangle, with two best friends in love with the same woman. It just happens to take place during one of the worst military disasters in U.S. history. The obvious comparison, at least story-wise, is to the mega-blockbuster, Titanic. There was another movie that was essentially a love story, that happened to take place during another horrible incident in history. Something about love and disaster that always come hand in hand.

The battle portions of the movie are very extravagant and very well made. We've all seen war movies before, and we've all seen battle scenes before, but Pearl Harbor takes it to another level, at least visually. It doesn't have any of the gritty realness that made Saving Private Ryan a huge success, but it takes battle scenes to new heights as far as production values go. Huge ships exploding left and right, planes shot and burned in mid-air before crashing down onto soldiers. Just the scale of the battle scenes was impressive. It's this kind of action that director Michael Bay and producer Jerry Bruckheimer are famous for, so they know what they're doing when it comes to large scale action-adventure.

The love story however, leaves a little to be desired. It truly is very sappy and full of cliched lines and action. But at the same time, it does give the movie some heart. What I really enjoyed was that instead of going directly into the massive battle scenes, they gave the audience time to get to know about the characters involved, so that when they went into battle, you cared about whether they lived or died. Granted a lot of people who see the film may actually want them to die, but I for one was rooting for them. And for the record I was hoping Evelyn would pick Danny over Rafe. I'm not the biggest Ben Affleck fan in the world, but I have to admit, he does have that movie star quality about him. He may not be the best actor in the world, but that hasn't stopped anyone before. Josh Hartnett and Kate Beckinsale are the two that carried the movie for me. While Rafe was the hero everyone wanted to be, Danny was the shy sidekick who just wanted someone to look up to. Evelyn was the woman who was caught in between two men, both of whom could die at any given moment.

Could someone tell me what Cuba Gooding Jr.'s character had to do with this movie? My only thinking here is the creators of the film realized that there were no black characters in the movie, and they combed through the history books to find one, and then stuck him in the movie. He didn't add anything to the overall appeal of the film, and wasn't even in most of the movie. If he had been cut out of the entire film, nothing would have been missed, which leads me to believe his character was added towards the end of the production. As far as the rest of the supporting cast, Jon Voight did a great dead-on job as President Roosevelt, and Alec Baldwin did a commendable job as Lt. Colonel Jimmy Doolittle. I normally find his acting a bit stale, but here stale worked.

So overall, I enjoyed Pearl Harbor. It was sappy yet fun. I found myself feeling something for the lead characters, which made the rest of the movie watchable. The battle scenes were excellent, and worth seeing on the big screen with full surround sound. Josh Hartnett and Kate Beckinsale are a couple of actors I'll hopefully be seeing a lot more of in the future. So while it wasn't the best film ever, it was certainly a good one.

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Pearl Harbor -
December 7, 1941
Commemorative Edition 5-Pack

$42.49 DVD

Pearl Harbor:
The Day of Infamy -
An Illustrated History

$31.96 Hardcover

Pearl Harbor:
Defend the Fleet

$19.99 Windows 95/98/Me

National Geographic -
Pearl Harbor:
Legacy of Attack (2001)

$12.99 VHS

reviewed 05/28/01

© 2001 Wolfpack Productions

Wolfpack Productions