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Pearl Harbor

movie reviewmovie review out of 4 Movie Review: Pearl Harbor

Starring: Ben Affleck, Kate Beckinsale
Director: Michael Bay
Rated: PG-13
RunTime: 183 Minutes
Release Date: May 2001
Genres: Action, Drama, War, Romance

Review by Susan Granger
2½ stars out of 4

It's a glossy, three-hour, epic love story about the loss of innocence, set around the tragedy of "the day which will live in infamy," according to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt (Jon Voight). And at $140+ million, it's also the most expensive movie ever made. So, is it a patriotic blockbuster? Yes. Is it an Oscar-contender, like "Titanic," its obvious inspiration? No.

Written by Randall Wallace ("Braveheart"), directed by Michael Bay ("Armageddon") and produced by Jerry Bruckheimer, "Pearl Harbor" delivers primarily in the violent, realistic action sequences: the Japanese sneak attack on the U.S. fleet on the fateful morning of December 7, 1941. Planes swoop in. Bombs explode. Battleships sink. Machine guns fire.

The two-pilots-and-a-Navy nurse love story fares less well. Ben Affleck and Josh Hartnett are boyhood pals who fall in love with the same woman, Kate Beckinsale. Affleck meets her at an Army induction center, where she inoculates his bare rump - twice. Romance ignites and blazes until his plane is shot down in the Battle of Britain. In Hawaii, Hartnett, delivers the news to Beckinsale and soon they find passion under the parachutes in an airfield hangar. But Affleck's not dead, and Beckinsale's pregnant. If it sounds trite, sappy and prosaic, it is. Without high drama or sentimentality, there's an emotional detachment, and it takes Col. James Doolittle's (Alec Baldwin) Tokyo raid, four months later, to resolve their destiny. But Cuba Gooding Jr is charismatic as cook who shot down Japanese Zeros and was the first African-American awarded the Navy Cross; too bad his part is so truncated. On the Granger Movie Gauge of 1 to 10, "Pearl Harbor" is an stunning, explosive 6. It's a contrived, commercial war movie. If you want accurate history, rent "Tora, Tora, Tora."

Copyright 2001 Susan Granger

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