Pearl Harbor

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Kate Beckinsale, The Only Reason To See Pearl Harbor

May 25, 2001 (Updated Apr 26, 2002)
Review by  
Rated a Very Helpful Review

Pros:Kate Beckinsale, Josh Harnett.

Cons:Two hours of straight violence is a lot to handle.

The Bottom Line: Think Top Gun meets Titanic. Women, not enough love story to keep you occupied. Men, it's a blowem up movie you'll like. Too violent for young children.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie's plot.

Right up front, I'm gonna let you know that I think Ben Affleck is a hottie. I was SO looking forward to seeing him shirtless in this movie or for that matter, any movie this Summer.

I had seen previews of this movie and I *really* wanted to like it. Instead, I walked away from this three hour Disney marketing machine with mixed emotions.

If you're familiar with the work of master marketers, Michael Bay and Jerry Bruckheimer, then the formulas they have used in the past, (Top Gun, Armageddon, Con Air, The Rock), are old hat to you. Take a bunch of things to blow up, parallel it with a slow burning love story and ta-da....that's your movie! Side note: If you’re looking to view a documentary that covers the real Pearl Harbor, you won’t get that here. Oh yes, they did time the actual attack to be on December 7, 1941.

Synopsis of the Plot OR The Way Kristina Saw It
Best friends Rafe (Ben Affleck) and Danny (Josh Harnett) grow up to be pilots in the Army. Rafe is the strong leader while Danny is the one who stays in the background, allowing Rafe to shine.

While going through physical examinations, Rafe meets up with a nurse, Evelyn (Kate Beckinsale). The tension is there and through a couple of push and pull scenes, which include a couple of hysterical moments, you feel the bond form for their romantic relationship.

One month after hooking up with Evelyn, Rafe volunteers to go over to England to fight with the Brits. Evelyn is rocked by his revelation and the parting is such sweet sorrow scenes kick in here.

Of course Rafe tells Danny that if he doesn't return, make sure you're the one to tell Evelyn.

Evelyn and Danny head for the tropical paradise of Hawaii, kicking back and enjoying the fact that the war is a million miles away.

You know what happens next, right?

Rafe is presumed dead and over the course of 3-6 months, Evelyn and Danny bond and become lovers.

SURPRISE! Rafe comes back and instead of being embraced by the love of his life, he comes back to find out that his best friend has stolen her.

But no time to digest this information because Pearl Harbor is invaded by the Japs.

Insert WAYYYY to much violence here.

Danny and Rafe, come in and save a sliver of the day by destroying many Japanese planes. Yay for them.

But all is not happily ever after. The boys are still faced with their conflict over Evelyn and their passion to seek revenge on the Japs for their disastrous invasion.

The Good
What made me not walk out of this movie was the underlying love story. In the beginning, the love between Evelyn and Rafe was magical and passionate. It's like I could close my eyes and put myself in her shoes. The chemistry between Ben and Kate in the beginning was over the top, unbelievably fantastic.

Mark my words....Kate Beckinsale is a woman to watch. I first caught her in Last Days of Disco and there, I felt that she had real presence. Apparently, she's not scandalous enough to feature in the media so for awhile, I forgot about her existence :).

In Pearl Harbor, Kate's character is strong without being a b*tch and vulnerable without being PMS queen of the universe. When she was in a scene, it just made things easier to watch from a believability and sincerity stand point. Thank you Michael for casting a brunette!

If you want to see this movie - she is the main reason why you should see it.

Josh Harnett is usually relegated to a supporting role in any movie he is in. He was a major weenie/wet pansy in Here On Earth. Even though I knew from the beginning that the "formula" meant that he was dead meat, his performance was much better than that of his friend, Ben Affleck. He was sweet (every woman's dream) and had a character that actually evolved over the course of three hours.

Even though I thought there was too much violence in the movie, I do think that the special effects around the war stuff was well done. What can I say? Michael Bay knows how to blow up stuff!

The Bad
I'm not even sure which bad I should list first.

First, I thought that the war acts were a little bit over the top for a PG-13 rating. Yes, I realize that as I grow older, violence (even if it is pretend) is more upsetting than it used to be. I felt like Michael Bay could have used other methods to get across the same message.

Side rant: I was SO appalled at the number of people who brought their children. I don't mean 14 year olds - I mean 6 and 7 year olds. Inappropriate. Bad parenting. Although I realize that as a society, we are more de-sensitized to violence, the scenes in this movie were WAYYYYY to much for a 6 year old to comprehend and process. I've updated this section based upon my comments. Bruckheimer and Bay do not even come close to depicting what really happened at Pearl Harbor. You know and I know that this "point in time historical moment" was a conveinent thing to marry the idea of making a big, explosive, and marketable movie. I still stand by original stance that a six year old doesn't need to have two hours of guns and bombs blown up in front of him. If you really want to educate a six year old about war, that's not where their first education comes from.

Second, Ben Ben Ben. sigh. This is the same feeling I had when the Backstreet Boys put out Black and Blue. Disappointment. The high point of Ben's acting in this movie was the beginning when his relationship with Kate was beginning. His low point was everything else. What happened? Well, several little things that just got under my skin. One I'll mention (cause I could make a list that would stretch this to the North Pole), he was supposed to be from Tennessee so I expected somewhat of a Southern Drawl. Yup. He started out strong and dropped and reinstated his accent all throughout the movie. P.S. Ben, you're no Tom Cruise.

Third, I had higher expectations for Cuba Gooding, Jr. If you're going to see this movie because he's in it, you're better off skipping in it. What a waste of a great actor!

Fourth, the writing was a little bit on the cheesy, predictable side. Sometimes, that's an okay thing but when Evelyn and Danny started having interaction with each other after Rafe's presumed death, I continued to look for the punchline.

The Unclassifiable
I feel that some of the other actors deserve some sort of mention.

Dan Aykroyd makes appearances throughout the movie as a nerdy government decoder. I'm sorry, but every time he opened his mouth, I was reminded of his stint in the movie, Spies Like Us. While his scenes made me smile, I'm sure that wasn't the intent

Alex Baldwin is just this side of psycho. I wouldn't call his performance as the commander to be "good". It seems more to be in step with his every day persona - so much so that it's scary.

The End
It really pains me not to recommend this movie. I wanted to love it. I wanted to cry and be moved. But I wasn't. It was a combination of less than stellar writing, too much violence, and Ben's mediocre performance.

Recommend this product? No

Suitability For Children: Not suitable for Children of any age

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