Summer is here and so are the box office smash hits. First in line is Pearl Harbor starring Ben Affleck, Josh Hartnett, and Kate Beckinsale. It is produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and directed by Michael Bay (The Rock and Armageddon). This lengthy, big budget movie can be broken down into three parts. The first hour-and-a-half is a hokey love story between Ben Affleck and Kate Beckinsale. It is filled with corny teenage humor, horrible dialog, and one-dimensional characters. It is almost unbearable to watch.
Next comes the good movie stuff—the attack on Pearl Harbor. This is what everyone in the theater has been waiting for but it’s almost not worth the pain of sitting through the first hour-and-a-half. The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor is definitely the movie’s best part. There is still something missing though. Unlike other war movies such as Saving Private Ryan and The Thin Red Line, the battle sequence is carefully constructed to not be too graphic so the producers can keep their PG-13 rating. I find this very problematic and typical of Hollywood. As phony as it is, it’s still the only good thing about this movie, so sit back and enjoy the exciting computer explosions and try to imagine what it would really be like.
The third and final part of Pearl Harbor is a counter-attack on the Japanese. This was probably put in to leave the audience feeling satisfied because the movie could simply not end on a sad note. But by this point, I was so tired with Pearl Harbor that I would have been fine walking out after the bombing. The movie is just way too long and that is its biggest flaw. It’s also a bad war movie. I would not put this movie on the shelves next to Saving Private Ryan or The Thin Red Line. Instead I would file it under the name "Summer Junk that will soon be forgotten."
Note: Woody Allen is now sixty-five. It seems like he is not that old. He has been putting out at least one movie a year for decades. This August his latest, The Curse of the Jade Scorpion, featuring Woody, Dan Aykroyd, and Helen Hunt, among others, will be in the theaters.