Pearl Harbor is a classic tale of romance set during a war that complicates everything. It all starts when childhood friends Rafe and Danny become Army Air Corps pilots and meet Evelyn, a Navy nurse. Rafe falls head over heels and next thing you know Evelyn and Rafe are hooking up. Then Rafe volunteers to go fight in Britain and Evelyn and Danny get transferred to Pearl Harbor. While Rafe is off fighting everything gets completely whack and next thing you know everybody is in the middle of an air raid we now know as "Pearl Harbor." Written by
What a great film this could have been! The recreation of the attack on Pearl Harbor is some of the best film-making ever - an extraordinary and moving sequence made utterly believable by state of the art special effects. It ranks up there with the opening sequence from "Saving Private Ryan" and the sinking of the "Titanic" as one of the most harrowing "disaster" sequences filmed in recent years. But like both those other two films, PEARL HARBOR is desperately in need of a decent script to frame the disaster sequence.
Okay - I could almost accept the hokey old love triangle romantic plot - certainly the stars are great to look at - but the dialogue really sucked: "I don't think I'll ever look at another sunset without thinking of you". Please! And all those hero shots from the ground, and the slow motion love bits, and the soppy music, and the eternal sunsets...
But what this film really needed was an editor! The climax of the film is the attack on Pearl Harbor - an American defeat. But it seems the film-makers decided that the American audience wouldn't be satisfied with this - and so the movie grinds on and on for another hour or so dramatising a revenge attack on Japan. And we're supposed to believe that this attack was fought by the very same guys who were on the ground in Hawaii. I mean we all know that America won the war in the end, so did we really need this long epilogue?
Personally I'd cut out all the Roosevelt and the Japanese high command scenes and concentrate on the experiences of the people on the ground at Pearl Harbor. The Japanese stuff was all completely unbelievable anyway. The sad loss would be the superb performance of Jon Voight as Roosevelt - but maybe they could make another film about him. I'd also end the film after the attack at Pearl Harbor, as the survivors pick up the pieces. So why not have a shorter Director's Cut - a novel concept - that makes this film the great film it could have been. If you like I'll lend the scissors!
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