When the innocence of a nation is shattered by a sudden and devasting act of war, the lives and loves of a generation are swept into the greatest conflict modern man has ever known: World War II.
one thing that never changes over the years in Michael Bay’s
movies, they are literally meant to be heard and seen. Despite
being constantly slammed by critics, most of his movies raked
in millions of dollars if not billions for the major studios
in Hollywood making him one of the hottest directors in demand
over the past decade.
In 2001, renowned producer Jerry Bruckheimer and Bay teamed
up for the fourth time to bring the World War II epic "Pearl
Harbor" to the big screen. Costing a staggering US$130
million to produce, it was the "Titanic" of 2001.
Coincidentally, the script by Randall Wallace (Braveheart,
We Are Soldiers) also took a cue from the James Cameron’s
hit. Instead of a sinking ship, Wallace sets his version of
a tragic love story in the middle of the Pearl Harbor attack.
And instead of Jack and Rose, we have Rafe (the then in-demand
Ben Affleck) and Danny (the breakthrough role for Josh Harnett)
as two childhood friends who falls for the same woman, Evelyn
(Kate Beckinsale before she turns to the Underworld) while
at the same time juggles between their day job at the air
force in the midst of the Japanese’s surprise invasion.
With an already bloated running time of 183 minutes, I shall
not further elaborate on the wanting plot. Bay apparently
has none of Cameron’s touch of tenderness and skillfulness
in weaving his onscreen lovey-dovey characters when it comes
to romance and drama. For most of the duration, we have prolong
shots of the protagonists staring into long space or looking
blankly at each other mouthing mushy dialogue while most of
us might find it hard to distinguish between boredom and anguish.
Many pinpoint the fault on Bay however I seriously think Wallace
should shoulder at least half of the criticisms as his screenwriting
duty is populated with so much clichés that it weakens
the believability of the characters and historical events.
The only salvageable fact about "Pearl Harbor" is
the massive 'pearl harbor' attack sequence which lasts approximately
40 minutes almost an hour after the movie started and the
subsequent Doolittle raid. This is where Bay unleashes his
'bayhem' with amazing aerial chase sequences with torpedoes,
guns firing at all angles and the capsized of the USS Arizona,
all convincingly rendered using live-action effects and digital
effects by ILM. The once award-winning commercials helmer
and music video director is at his peak when choreographing
massive scenes of carnage but stalls when it comes to dramatic
Besides the three leads, veterans liked Alec Baldwin, Jon
Voight, Academy-award winner Cuba Cooding Jr, the late Mako,
Dan Akroyd, Tom Sizemore, the very young Jamie King and Jennifer
Garner had their fair share of limited screentime. Despite
emphasizing on the fact that most of the characters were based
on actual real-life persons, "Pearl Harbor" was
heavily criticized for all its historical inaccuracies.
"Pearl Harbor" received a rather lukewarm response
at the domestic box office but recoup its costs after all
the international receipts were taken in. Those going for
Bay’s high paced action saturated stuff were disappointed.
The soapy romance between the leads qualified more like a
full-blown commercial (cosmetics would be a good one) but
the CGI enhanced war sequences (digital smoke, warplanes,
ships….) stand out to be the best since the opening
beach attack on "Saving Private Ryan". Basically,
you need to see to believe the luscious visual Bay had composed
and listen to all the bombastic surround sound effects created.
Well, to really feel for the onscreen characters is another
SPECIAL FEATURES :
The following featurettes are presented in non-HD format:-
Kudos to the thoughtful Blu-ray producers who included a Movie Showcase feature that allows you to gain instant access of the movie’s cinematic moments on your theatre system without suffering through hours of mushy romance.
Journey to the Screen: The Making of Pearl Harbor lasts a whopping 47 minutes. Consisting of interviews with the principal cast and crew members as well as World War II veterans, most interestingly are the behind-the-scene shots of choreographing the attack sequence.
The Japanese Perspective is a short 5 minutes feature consisting of interview with the Japanese cast members including the late Mako. Not surprising, it’s a typical PR segment that offers none of what the feature is supposed to be.
This Blu-ray disc rounds up with the original theatrical trailer and a music video, "There You’ll Be" by Faith Hill.
While the visual lacks the vibrancy of the current BD releases in the market and has minor noise, it’s still a triumph over the DVD version. Bay has proven to have an eye for visual sense and here it is, a beautiful to look at but pity hollow romance war epic.
Jump straight to chapter 22 and awe your friends and neighbours with the English PCM 5.1 soundtrack. Featuring a hyper soundtrack with deep bass, the sound of machine guns and explosions going off at your surround will definitely blow your ear drums away. I should say this title belongs to the "Show Off Your Home Theatre System" category. Highly recommended in the audio/visual department.
by Linus Tee
Posted on 20 October 2009